- Overheating or risky decisions could be signs you’re not getting enough sleep
- Other signs that you’re sleep deprived could be a craving for takeout or a poor memory.
Balancing work, a social life and staying fit and healthy can mean a good night’s sleep is often sacrificed.
But a lack of sleep can trigger serious and far-reaching health issues beyond just feeling tired.
Indeed, napping is vital for the healing of the heart and blood vessels, while those who are extremely sleep deprived even risk damaging their organs.
Here, MailOnline reveals the five signs you’re not getting enough sleep, according to retailer Bed Kingdom.
Fancy a takeaway
If you experience sudden cravings for takeout or junk food, it could be a sign that you’re sleep deprived.
A lack of sleep impairs appetite-regulating hormones, according to scientists at the University of California.
The small 2014 study monitored the food cravings of 23 healthy participants on nights when they had normal sleep and on nights of total sleep deprivation.
They found that when volunteers did not get enough sleep, participants were more likely to turn to junk food. The researchers believe this was due to cravings for high-calorie, high-sugar and high-fat snacks as a way to boost energy levels.
But researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine found in 2019 that cravings for unhealthy foods in those who don’t get enough sleep could be due to your nose or your olfactory system — the sense of smell.
Experts suggest that when you’re sleep deprived, your nose is too tired to transmit enough information to the brain about different food smells.
This can cause you to seek out richer foods with a stronger smell, often junk food.
READ MORE: Waking up early for work? That’s why it could be bad for you
Many people may feel more forgetful when they are tired.
Indeed, sleep deprivation affects the brain’s ability to learn and memorize information.
During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is known for dreaming, the brain is active, building and storing memories from the day before, according to the Sleep Foundation.
Less sleep disrupts this process, interrupting the formation of memories and the absorption of information.
And people who are sleep deprived even risk forming false memories, according to a 60-person study by doctors in Singapore, published in the Journal of Sleep Research in 2016.
Not only is your ability to remember affected by a lack of sleep, but sleep is also essential for enhancing the learning and absorption of motor skills and physical reflexes – hence the term muscle memory.
This is another reason why a high percentage of car accidents occur due to sleep deprivation, as experts say sleep-deprived drivers have slower reaction times.
A lack of sleep could even hamper weight loss attempts.
Sleep duration has long been linked to the body’s production of appetite-regulating hormones, according to researchers at Harvard University.
They say insufficient sleep is associated with higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite and signals hunger.
Sleep deprivation is also linked to lower levels of the hormone leptin, which is needed to feel full.
As a result, higher levels of ghrelin combined with less leptin will make you hungrier and your body will be slower to react when you are full, increasing the risk of overeating.
Sleep deprivation also increases stress, which leads to increased cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a stress hormone responsible for retaining energy (sugars and fats) for later use. So, higher levels of this hormone means your body retains more fat.
How much sleep do people need?
The amount of sleep you need each night to avoid sleep deprivation depends on your age.
Newborns (0 to 3 months) need 14 to 17 hours of sleep.
Infants (4 to 11 months) need 12 to 15 hours of sleep.
Toddlers (1 to 2 years old) need between 11 to 14 hours of sleep.
Children from 3 to 5 years old need 10 to 13 hours of sleep.
Children from 6 to 12 years old need 9 to 12 hours of sleep.
Teenagers (13 to 18 years old) need 8 to 10 hours of sleep.
Adults from 18 to 60 years old need 7 or more hours of sleep.
Adults 61 to 64 need 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
Adults 65 years or older need 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Experts say insulin levels are also affected by a lack of sleep because higher cortisol levels make the body less sensitive to insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that converts food into energy. The body has a harder time processing fat from the bloodstream when it becomes less sensitive to insulin.
Over time, this leads to fat accumulation in the body and weight gain.
Bad decision making
Studies show that sleep loss is linked to making risky decisions.
In 2020, Italian scientists looked at the effects of total and partial sleep deprivation on a person’s risk taking and impulsivity.
They studied 74 people – 32 of whom had a night of a few regular hours of sleep for them (they all said they typically slept 7-8 hours), followed by a night of no sleep at all, arriving at the lab at 21 hours. and stay wide awake all night.
The rest of the people, 42, had five nights of regular sleep, according to their own sleep patterns, followed by five nights of partial sleep deprivation – where they had to fall asleep at 2 a.m. and wake up at 7 a.m. in the morning.
They found that those with prolonged, albeit partial, sleep deprivation suffered more detrimental outcomes.
For the study published in the journal Nature of Science and Sleep, the authors wrote: “Under the effects of sleep loss, people [who are] usually more thoughtful and cautious become more impulsive and risk-taking when making decisions based on deliberative reasoning.
Experts have suggested that this increased risk-taking when sleep deprived is due to decreased function of the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that regulates thoughts, actions and emotions.
Sleep is vital for the body to regulate our internal temperature, experts say.
Without sleep, he struggles to maintain the normal temperature of 37°C (98.6°F).
This means that the more tired people are, the hotter their brains become, according to Boston University scientists.
Yawning – a telltale sign of fatigue – is a method to compensate for this failure in thermoregulation and helps cool the brain, they say.
So the next time you feel hot and bothered, it could be a sign that you need more sleep.