Indeed, a lack of sleep has a detrimental impact on health. Physically, poor sleep leads to an increased risk of serious illnesses and also affects psychomotor function, causing poor performance at work or school, amongst other things. Psychologically, when a lack of sleep becomes a habit, it can give rise to illnesses such as depression or anxiety.
Before reaching this point, it is possible to spot certain warning signs that could indicate that someone is not getting enough sleep. Would you like to know what they are?
- Finding it hard to think clearly and make decisions. When you don't get enough sleep, this affects concentration, mental agility and the ability to process information and make decisions.
- Memory issues. A lack of sleep also has a direct impact on memory since, during the REM stage, the brain processes the information received during the day and helps to consolidate it and store it appropriately. If you do not have restorative sleep, this information is not reorganised properly and some of it is forgotten.
- Mood swings. Several studies indicate that a lack of sleep is linked to a reduced ability to regulate your emotions. This may make you feel as if you are on an ‘emotional roller coaster’, where periods of euphoria are followed by a state of deep sadness.
- Inability to manage stress. Stress and anxiety become triggers for insomnia and, in turn, are also caused by it. Once insomnia issues have set in, the lack of sleep causes a physiological response in the body which contributes to increasing stress and anxiety levels, putting the body on a higher state of alert and activation and making it more difficult to be able to relax and, therefore, to sleep.
- Irritability and frustration. Sleep plays a crucial role in various cognitive functions. With a lack of sleep, factors such as attention span or problem-solving abilities are affected, which can culminate in a more irritable mood.
- Changes in sensory perception. A lack of sleep can cause changes in individuals’ sensory perception, such as a reduced field of vision or loss of sensitivity to emotional signals, such as facial expressions of happiness or sadness.
To help to prevent these issues, the key is to adopt an appropriate routine before going to sleep which will enable you to improve your sleep quality. It is therefore helpful to limit consumption of stimulants, such as caffeine or theine; avoid use of electronic devices or intense physical exercise in the two hours before going to bed; stick to regular bedtimes and have a light evening meal, with food rich in tryptophan and Omega 3.
Having a comfortable mattress and good bed linen and sleeping in a quiet, dark room at a suitable temperature (approximately 18 degrees) will help to improve sleep hygiene.