Forty percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep a night, and the average American sleeps just 6.8 hours a night. In contrast, the average American slept 7.9 hours a night in 1942,[i] which is probably closer to what your body demands.
Nearly half of men polled by the Better Sleep Council said they believe you can train yourself to need less sleep[ii] … but this is a myth. You can cheat sleep by staying up late and getting up early – but your body won’t be fooled.
Lack of sleep can leave you unable to concentrate and stressed out. It also contributes to chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, depression, immune system trouble and even weight gain and obesity. Too little sleep can even shrink your brain.
When facing sleepiness during the daylight hours, nearly one-third of adults turn to coffee or other caffeinated beverages to perk up,[iii] but this is only a temporary fix. Lurking under your caffeine buzz is a tired person just waiting to come out, probably when you least expect it.
11 Surprising Signs Your Body Needs Some Sleep
If you’re nodding off during meetings or, worse, while driving, you know you need to get more shut-eye. Other signs can be much less obvious, yet no less important to take note of for your overall health. If any of these signs describe you, it’s time to focus on getting more sleep.
1. You Fall Asleep the Second Your Head Hits the Pillow: This doesn’t earn you bragging rights; falling asleep within five minutes of lying down is a sign of sleep deprivation (and may even a sleep disorder), according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.[iv]
2. You’re a Klutz: Coordination takes focus, concentration and quick reaction times, all of which are altered when you’re sleep deprived. If you’re stumbling more often than usual, it’s because your neurological function probably isn’t at its best.
3. You Can’t Make a Decision: Even simple decisions, like what kind of coffee to order, take on monumental difficulty when you’re overtired, because sleep deprivation makes you less able to discern between relevant and irrelevant information.
4. You Take More Risks: Sleep deprivation boosts production in brain regions associated with positive outcomes while minimizing those that analyze negative outcomes.[v] The end result is an increase in risky decisions.
5. You’re Unusually Hungry: When you’re sleep deprived your body produces less leptin, a hormone that curbs appetite, and more ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone.” When this happens, it’s not unusual for your stomach to feel like a bottomless pit. Chris Winter, MD, owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia, told Health:[vi]
“If the brain is not getting the energy it needs from sleep it will often try to get it from food.”
6. You’re an Emotional Mess: Are you irritable, crying for no reason, picking fights with your spouse or overly anxious? Lack of sleep sends your emotions into overdrive.
7. You’re More Impulsive: Sleep is important for regenerating your brain’s pre-frontal cortex, which is the area involved in self-control. Lack of sleep leads to a litany of impulsive and sometimes deviant behaviors as a result, like not exercising, eating more junk food and even engaging in “interpersonally inappropriate behavior.”[vii]
8. You’re Sick, Again: Sleep deprivation results in poorer immune function, which explains why people who sleep less than seven hours a night, and those who have poor sleep efficiency (the percentage of time you’re actually asleep while in bed), are about three times more likely to catch a cold than those who sleep eight hours a night.[viii]
9. Your Blood Pressure is Up: It takes just one night of too little sleep to cause your blood pressure to be elevated for the entire next day.[ix]
10. Your Skin is Suffering: Proper sleep not only helps your skin to repair damaged cells but too little sleep can disrupt hormone levels that lead to skin breakouts. Sleep deprivation can even cause excess wrinkling. Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist, told Health:[x]
“If done for long periods [not getting proper sleep], you will see that you have excess wrinkling probably from a decrease in collagen … The body produces it while you’re sleeping.”
11. You’re Forgetful: Sleep is essential for memory consolidation,[xi] and sleep disturbances can contribute to forgetful behaviors. One study by Penn Medicine researchers even revealed that lost sleep leads to injury to, and loss of, neurons, including those important for alertness and optimal cognition.[xii][xiii]
What Can You Do to Sleep Better, Stat?
Poor sleep isn’t something to take lightly. If you’re in need of more sleep (be honest) try the basics first: be sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep (it should be a dark, comfortable, cool and calming environment) and turn off your electronic gadgets well before bed. Get into a bedtime routine just like you do for your kids, but yours might involve winding down with a cup of chamomile tea, washing your face and reading a chapter or two of your current read (nothing overly adventurous or upsetting, though).
Strive to have a set bedtime and wake-up time, which helps keep your body clock in sync, and if you need to go to bed earlier to fit in enough hours of sleep, turn off your Netflix marathon (or put down your novel) and do it. Also helpful in the long run is regular exercise, which has been shown to improve sleep quality, mood and quality of life in people with insomnia.[xiv]
Finally, don’t be hesitant to give your body a little help. You can sleep better the very first night you try Sleepzyme®, which contains the natural sedative Valerian plus nine other proven, all-natural sleep aids. This includes:
- Magnesium citrate to boost and activate your ‘sleep hormone’ (melatonin)
- GABA, which improves your most vital state of sleep (the delta phase)
- 5-HTTP to help your body make serotonin and melatonin
- Inositol, which helps you stay asleep longer and have fewer bad dreams
- L-Theanine, which helps you relax and fall asleep with ease
- Lemon balm leaf to reduce anxiety and improve sleep
- Hops flower, which contains a naturally occurring sedative
- Passion flower, which is also recognized as an herbal sedative
- Melatonin to help regulate your sleep cycle (i.e. your circadian rhythm)
It also contains a special blend of enzymes uniquely formulated to improve the effectiveness of the botanical ingredients. If you’re serious about getting proper sleep, there’s no better solution on the market. Sleepzyme® is mother nature-approved. It’s all natural, non-addictive and has no negative side effects. Just take 3 capsules approximately one hour before bed each night with an 8 oz. glass of water and let nature do the rest.
[ii] Better Sleep Council April 2013
[iii] Better Sleep Council April 2013
[iv] Huffington Post July 6, 2014
[v] Sleep. 2007 May;30(5):603-9.
[vii] Huffington Post May 27, 2013
[viii] Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(1):62-67.
[ix] Harvard Medical School, Sleep and Disease Risk
[xi] PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e34106.
[xii] Penn Medicine March 18, 2014
[xiii] The Journal of Neuroscience March 19, 2014
[xiv] Sleep Med. Oct 2010; 11(9): 934-940
Written By: Updated: April 8,2015
2 thoughts on “11 Surprising Signs You Need More Sleep”
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I have been deprived of sleep for months ever since I got accepted from my part-time job. I work full time from 9am-5pm every weekday and 7 pm to 12mn every day except Sunday. Before my full-time job starts at 9 am, I wake up at 6 am to cook my breakfast, prepare my lunch, and then head out for an hour and a half travel to work. I have been experiencing these signs and now I understand that I need more sleep.