The Impact of a Poor Night's Sleep
Whether you’ve had a late night, had to get up extra early for a flight or simply haven’t slept well enough, we all know the groggy feeling that comes with a lack of sleep. But, due to the important role that sleep plays in many of our bodily functions, a lack of it can have many more impacts on our overall health. Let’s look into some of the most common short-term effects of poor sleep.
There are many ways that sleep can impact energy levels. One of the most notable is that it’s necessary to conserve and restore energy in our bodies. This is with the help of the chemicals adenosine and glycogen. Adenosine makes us feel sleepy and accumulates while we’re awake while glycogen helps to store energy in the brain and decreases during waking hours. More importantly, glycogen is restored during sleep. When we don’t get adequate sleep, we’re not able to restore glycogen to the necessary levels which can make us feel lethargic and drained the next day.
If you’ve found yourself being less productive than usual, the culprit may be your sleeping habits. Studies have found that when someone doesn’t get an adequate amount of sleep they can experience reduced concentration, problem-solving, memory capacity and creativity, which are all very important factors for productivity. Difficulties with productivity can be quite detrimental, so if it’s been an issue for you, improving your sleep could be a good solution.
Poor sleep can also have a significant impact on your memory. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, as we touched on earlier, a lack of sleep can reduce one’s ability to focus and efficiently learn. But on top of this, sleep is important for consolidating memories in the brain. Without good-quality sleep, it’s harder to remember the events or anything you’ve learnt from the day before. For this reason, it’s not the best idea to pull an all-nighter studying for a test the next day as your brain doesn’t get the chance to consolidate what you’ve been learning.
In the same way as your mood can impact how well you sleep, sleep loss can also have an impact on your mood. It’s certainly not uncommon to feel a bit irritated when you don’t get enough sleep, and there are studies that back this up. They’ve found that sleep deprived people experience increased negative moods, like anger and irritability, and decreased positive moods, like friendliness and elation. So, if you’ve found yourself feeling down, getting consistent, good-quality sleep could be a route to improving your mood.
What to doSimply understanding the negative health impacts of a lack of sleep isn’t going to instantly improve it. Thankfully, though, there’s plenty of research into the many methods we can try to improve our sleep from maintaining a routine to creating a good sleep environment. To learn more, check out our blog ‘The Circadian Rhythm’.