General Health Friday March 27, 2015

In Your 20s? Get Some Sleep!

Your 20s are suppose to be ten of the most exciting years of your life - full of possibilities, open doors and exploring the world, as well as yourself. There are parties every weekend, exciting new career opportunities and spontaneous outings around every corner. It is no surprise, then, that many of us are finding ourselves nodding off in the most inconvenient of places. With all of the fun and games, we're forgetting one important thing – sleep.

It's a popular theory amongst the masses that we need more sleep. However, thinking and doing are two completely separate things, and whilst you may think that only getting five hours a night isn't doing you much harm, you could be in for a rude awakening.

The experts at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommend getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, with more allocated to children. So what can happen to you if you're not getting enough?

Increased stress

Whether you decided to watch another episode of Breaking Bad or couldn't stop thinking about work, lack of sleep not only has you feeling tired but stressed too. Regardless of family issues, workload or an inability to say "no" to a night out, if you regularly get a couple less hours than you should, your body will release the stress hormone cortisol. The result? Your stress levels hit the roof.

Increased risk of disease

In a study recently compiled by Journal Sleep involving more than 54,000 adults, researchers discovered that those who sleep for less than six hours each night were significantly more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes and stroke than those getting up to nine hours per night.

Increase in weight

A lack of sleep tends to send your hormones into overdrive. When it comes to weight, the hormone associated with appetite, ghrelin, is significantly hindered - this is the hormone that tells your brain your hunger is satisfied. Sleep deprivation can lead to munching at odd times of the day and overeating to satisfy the grumbling. It has also been proven that your body stores fat much more readily when you're tired.

Increase in illness

Whenever you feel tired, this has a knock-on effect on your immune system. Your defences are down, due to your body spending so much effort on keeping you moving, that it isn't producing the necessary antibodies to keep you healthy. This can also have an impact in terms of vaccinations, which work with your body's natural antibodies to prevent illness. The effectiveness of certain vaccines is significantly lowered if your body is too exhausted to respond.

Increase in moodiness

Probably the most familiar side effect of sleep deprivation is a short temper. We can all get a bit cranky if we're don't get enough sleep, however it is scientifically proven that you are considerably more negative when extremely tired. As alertness affects everything from your performance at work to your social life, remember to switch off each night, and reap the benefits.

Increase in ageing

Linked to the release of cortisol, this pesky hormone breaks down collagen and decreases the production of growth hormones leaving your skin weakened and prone to wrinkles. Premature aging is an irreversible effect and a lack of sleep reduces the elasticity in your skin leaving you looking permanently tired.

And you thought being a bit cranky from hitting the snooze button one too many times was bad enough! There are plenty of negative effects associated with a lack of sleep, so it makes sense to unwind, relax and switch off.

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