And what to do about them.
Sleep is something everyone does, but only a small portion of people actually do it right. In fact, it's estimated that one in three adults in America don't get the necessary amount of sleep every night. Losing focus, experiencing mood swings, and being generally sleepy during the day are all telltale signs of a sleep problem. But there are less obvious signs that could also mean you're sleep-deprived. For instance, if you've been eating certain junk foods more than usual you might be wondering, “why am I craving sweets?" Here are five unexpected ways your body might be telling you it's time to get some Zzzs and a few suggestions to help you get good sleep.
You're Craving Junk Food
If you find yourself craving things like cookies, candy, and chips more than usual, the reason could be due to lack of sleep. There are two hunger hormones that make these cravings possible: ghrelin (which increases appetite) and leptin (which decreases appetite). When you don't get enough sleep, leptin levels decrease and ghrelin increase and signal to your body that you're hungry.
Increasing your appetite theoretically means you would just want more food, so then why does the body specifically crave what's bad for it when sleep deprived? Your body is likely looking for a quick-fix solution when it's feeling deprived, which is why sugary foods and high-calorie foods come to mind. Studies have shown a correlation between lack of sleep and choosing high-calorie foods.
One way to improve the quality of your sleep is by making sure your bedroom is set up for it. This means you should have shades that can keep out the morning light, and the temperature should be around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, make sure you have a good mattress that naturally helps cool body temperature. Materials such as activated charcoal from bamboo are key to staying cool throughout the night.
You're Waking Up Tired
If you notice you're waking up tired on a regular basis, feel tired at points throughout the day, and not even coffee can fix your problems, you could have poor sleep habits. Additionally, falling asleep easily during everyday activities like reading, car rides, and while watching TV could be signs you're sleep deprived.
Try setting a regular bedtime and limiting night time exposure to the blue lights in electronics..
Your Sex Drive Is Low
If you're exhausted, you may not be in the mood to have sex. One small study from 2015 concluded that sleep is essential to a “healthy sexual desire." Another study that only focused on men, found that testosterone levels decreased by 10-15% when they slept for only five hours a night instead of the recommended seven to nine hours.
To help you get better quality sleep, make sure your bedroom is reserved for sleep and sex only. By avoiding things like watching TV, eating, and working in bed, you can train your body to recognize your bedroom means it's time to sleep.
You Get Sick A Lot
If you're often sick, it might be because you're not getting enough sleep. Research has shown that poor sleep can cause your immune system to weaken. Specifically, one study reported that if you get fewer than five hours of sleep, there's a 45.2% chance you catch the common cold when exposed to the virus. That number decreases to 17.2% if you get more than seven hours of sleep.
You shouldn't just make sure you're getting sleep when you feel sick, you should be ensuring high-quality sleep on a nightly basis to keep yourself healthy from viruses, possibly including COVID-19. If you have anxiety about falling asleep or frequently toss and turn at night, try using a weighted blanket, which has been proven to help some people get better rest.
Your Skin Is Dull
Many dermatologists agree that sleep can cause wrinkles, dull skin, and, of course, the obvious — puffy eyes and dark circles. This is because your skin repairs itself while you sleep, and if you cut that process short, you're doing a disservice to your complexion. If you've looked in the mirror recently and aren't thrilled with your skin's appearance, think back on how much sleep you've been getting..
Whether you have one or a combination of these issues, one thing is certain: sleep is extremely important. Make sure you're getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night to help the health of your body. Go beyond just setting a bedtime; set up your bedroom as a sleep sanctuary. Start with a good mattress (that's not more than seven years old) and build out from there making sure your pillows, blankets, sheets, room temperature, and lighting are all set to give you the best and healthiest night's sleep.