Your Guide to Better Sleep + Our Favorite Sleep Supplements
We all have days where we feel run down, sluggish, or not quite up to tackling our usual daily activities. Perhaps you've missed a few hours of sleep due to a stressful situation or chose to stay out later than usual. When you begin to develop patterns of poor sleep habits, you start opening yourself up to severe health and wellness issues, reducing your fitness gains and overall quality of health. It’s important to understand that sleep is one of the three main factors that lead to a healthy lifestyle, adequate exercise, and balanced diet.
Fitness experts agree that rest is just as essential in the fitness equation as training. Talk to a fitness trainer and they’ll tell you that you should take your rest days, get adequate sleep, and never work out while you’re sick. If you push your body too hard, you risk slowed or no results in the gym. We’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you understand the importance of healthy sleep habits, the adverse effects of sleep deprivation, how to spot sleep deprivation symptoms, and how you can restore your sleep hygiene. We’ll also give you our top recommendations for sleep supplements and natural sleep aids that work.
Table of Contents
- Alarming Sleep Deprivation Statistics
- What is Sleep Deprivation?
- Three Types of Sleep Deprivation
- Sleep Deprivation vs. Insomnia
- Four Reasons Most People Can’t Sleep
- Stress and the Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation
- The Connection Between Sleep and Stress
- The Importance of Healthy Sleep
- Sleep Deprivation Symptoms
- Perspective from a Sleep Deprivation Timeline
- Understanding the Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation
- The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Workouts
- Understanding the Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Immune system
- How Can I Improve My Sleep?
- Our Favorite Sleep Supplements for Optimal Health
- Natural Sleep Aid Recommendations for Better Rest
Alarming Sleep Deprivation Statistics
So why is it that sleep always gets sacrificed? Why are one in three Canadians age 35-64 falling short on sleep requirements when they know they should be getting seven to nine hours a night? When we take a closer look into the causes and effects of sleep deprivation, we find alarming statistics, including:
-One in two adults has trouble falling asleep.
-One in five adults does not wake up feeling well-rested.
-One in three adults has trouble making it through the day without a nap.
What is Sleep Deprivation?
Sleep deprivation is often defined as a consistent lack of sleep. However, you may not realize that it also encompasses a significant reduction in the quality of your sleep. If you find yourself achieving seven to nine hours of sleep each night yet still wake to feel unrested, you’re experiencing a common sleep deprivation symptom. When you consistently get less than seven hours of sleep, it can eventually lead you down a long road of health and wellness consequences that can affect your entire body. In addition, the adverse effects of sleep deprivation can put you at higher risk of chronic disease if left untreated.
Three Types of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation, sometimes referred to as sleep insufficiency, can also be categorized according to a person’s circumstances surrounding the lack of rest. The three types of sleep deprivation include:
- Acute sleep deprivation
- Chronic sleep deprivation
- Chronic sleep deficiency
Acute Sleep Deprivation
Acute sleep deprivation describes a short period of severe sleep loss. While the effects of sleep deprivation are still harmful to your health, this period tends to last a few days or less.
Chronic Sleep Deprivation
Also known as insufficient sleep syndrome, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine defines chronic sleep deprivation as sleep loss that persists for three months or longer.
Chronic Sleep Deficiency
Also referred to as insufficient sleep, chronic deficiency describes ongoing sleep deprivation or poor sleep resulting from sleep fragmentation or other sleep disruptions.
Sleep Deprivation vs. Insomnia
Insomnia and sleep deprivation both involve failing to get sufficient sleep. While some may use these terms interchangeably, many sleep science experts point out a distinct difference between them. People who suffer from insomnia have difficulty sleeping, even when there is plenty of time for them to catch a healthy amount of z’s. Those who struggle with sleep deprivation fail to allocate enough time for sleep due to their lifestyle choices, behavior choices, or everyday commitments. There may even be overlaps in the effects of sleep deprivation one experiences and symptoms of sleep deprivation. However, someone with sleep deprivation can usually catch up on sleep on their days off, while the insomniac will continue to struggle regardless of extra time.
Four Reasons Most People Can’t Sleep
It seems that adults can’t sleep for a variety of reasons. Understanding the root issues that keep you from a good night's sleep is vital to your overall health and wellness. Let's take a look at some of the top reasons most adults say they can’t sleep. Chances are, you can relate to at least one of these issues leading to sleep deprivation symptoms.
- People are sedentary for significant periods of the day.
- Adults' stress levels are off the charts.
- Mental health disorders negatively affect sleep.
- We are busy all the time.
1. People are sedentary for significant periods of the day.
We live in increasingly sedentary times. While you probably dabble in the health and fitness world if you're on our site, you also very likely work a desk job or are otherwise sitting for a period of four hours or more. Coincidentally, adults with poor sleep habits reported they were typically sedentary for at least four hours a day on average.
2. Adults’ stress levels are off the charts.
Stress has tons of well-documented adverse effects on a person’s health. For example, among many scary effects of sleep deprivation, sleep suffers greatly among adults who consider themselves to be chronically stressed.
3. Mental health disorders negatively affect sleep.
12.3% of adults that report getting poor sleep struggle with poor mental health. As people become increasingly sleep-deprived, the vicious cycle continues; their mental health deteriorates at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, th catch twenty-two of your mental health and the effects of sleep deprivation can go round and round if it isn't adequately addressed.
4. We are busy all the time.
People often complain that there are just not enough hours in the day. Usually, this is to excuse their lack of exercise. Still, if you're squeezing in your workout after a crazy day of work and your kid’s extracurricular activities, you may find that the lack of hours in the day ends up stealing from those precious sleeping hours.
Other leading factors people link to poor sleep include:
- sleep disorders, including sleep apnea
- work obligations or stressors
- medical conditions, including chronic pain
Stress and the Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation
The daily stressors you experience can wreak havoc across all aspects of your life. When you battle chronic stress, you may find yourself overwhelmed with symptoms, including:
- muscle pain due to tension
- chest pains headaches loss of sleep
- high blood pressure
Stress may have you feeling withdrawn, irritable, and lacking motivation. Routine tasks and obligations begin to seem unachievable. While the days seem daunting and draining, the nights are plagued with sleeplessness. Stress can cause your mind to race with worry and doubt, unable to shut down for the night. As the cycle continues and the effects of sleep deprivation kick in, your health is put at greater risk.
The Connection Between Sleep and Stress
The stress and anxiety from your day can prevent you from falling or staying asleep.
Heightened levels of the stress hormone cortisol can prevent you from falling asleep and cause multiple interruptions in your sleep cycles. However, some people find sleep supplements to help and adopt natural sleep aids that can relieve stress, quiet the mind, and support restful sleep.
The Importance of Healthy Sleep
It is vital to ensure your body receives the recommended seven to nine hours of restful sleep. Your overall quality of health depends upon consistent, quality sleep. Arming yourself with knowledge will help you recognize sleep deprivation symptoms and seek help before the harmful effects of sleep deprivation have a chance to strike. Whether you implement natural sleep aid routines or purchase high-quality sleep supplements, several options may help ease your struggle.
Healthy sleep habits can help you:
- avoid harmful sleeping pills and possible addiction
- live a healthier, happier lifestyle
- be productive and efficient
- avoid health issues, both physically and mentally
- achieve fitness gains and goals
Sleep Deprivation Symptoms
Sleep plays a vital role in allowing your body and mind to restore themselves each night. When your body is unable to transition through sleep cycles, including light through deep sleep, patterns begin to form and may result in a multitude of issues. Common sleep deprivation symptoms may include:
Chronic sleep loss is known to cause moodiness, a short temper, irritability, and emotional turmoil. Long-term mood instability can eventually lead to bouts of anxiety and cause depression.
Poor focus and concentration
You may begin to notice signs of forgetfulness, a shorter attention span, and a lack of concentration. Focusing on tasks becomes increasingly difficult when you are not getting ample sleep.
More susceptible to viruses
Weakening of the immune system is another sleep deprivation symptom to be aware of. When your body is deprived of sleep, your health is put at risk. This is because your system's defenses need rest to guard you against viruses effectively.
High blood pressure
If your blood pressure has been rising, ask yourself if you’re getting enough rest. High blood pressure is a sleep deprivation symptom to take seriously, as it puts you at risk for other illnesses. Most people report elevated blood pressure with consistently struggling to achieve at least five hours of sleep.
Prone to stress, anxiety, and paranoia
While stress and anxiety can certainly stem from various factors, be aware of your sleep patterns when these are heightened. Paranoia and hallucinations are also known as sleep deprivation symptoms and should all be discussed with your physician or sleep specialist.
Digestive system issues
Poor sleep can also lead to issues within your digestive system, including inflammation. While these concerns can lead to other illnesses and diseases, you may also experience rapid weight gain leading to obesity.
High-risk behavior or poor decision making
If you aren’t one to make rash decisions but notice yourself doing so, you may be experiencing a sleep deprivation symptom. Poor cognitive function includes your decision-making skills and may result in risky behavior.
Impatience is a common sleep deprivation symptom and may grow worse with time. If this is outside your typical personality, your body's lack of rest may undoubtedly be the main culprit.
Lack of energy
Even when you make it to bed with plenty of hours to sleep, you may still wake feeling fatigued. Frequent night waking or restless sleep can also cause a lack of energy and is a common sleep deprivation symptom. You may also notice excessive yawning or extreme sleepiness soon after waking.
Perspective from a Sleep Deprivation Timeline
While every case is different, and there isn’t a timeline set in stone for sleep deprivation, we’d like to give you a general overview of what one would experience as they are deprived of sleep over time. This general timeline overview can help you better recognize sleep deprivation symptoms. Familiarizing yourself with this information may also help you understand the importance of implementing natural sleep aid remedies, sleep supplements, or seeking a doctor’s help before the harmful effects of sleep deprivation set in.
As your hours of sleep continue to diminish, the symptoms of sleep deprivation will grow increasingly worse throughout each stage in the timeline. Take a look at the symptoms and effects of sleep deprivation through each period:
Period 1: After Twenty-Four Hours
Missing twenty-four hours won’t cause any major health problems. While it’s not a recommended habit to get into, you aren’t alone if you’ve been in this stage. Your body and mind will feel tired and perhaps a bit off until you’ve caught up on sleep. Working out will be more challenging, as will many of your daily activities.
Staying awake for twenty-four hours may cause the following sleep deprivation symptoms:
- anger and irritability
- more prone to stress
- a reduction in alertness
- increase in brain fog
- low concentration
- clumsiness and prone to accidents
- dark circles under the eyes or puffiness
- food cravings or overeating
Period 2: After Thirty-Six Hours
After missing thirty-six hours of sleep, your sleep deprivation symptoms grow more intense. The overwhelming urge to sleep may cause you to experience microsleeps without even realizing it. Microsleeps are brief bursts of unintentional sleep and tend to last up to thirty seconds.
At this stage, various parts of your brain will have difficulty communicating with each other. This miscommunication can severely impair your cognitive performance, causing sleep deprivation symptoms that may include:
- changes in your behavior
- memory impairments
- difficulty understanding, learning, and retaining new information
- poor decision-making
- increased difficulty processing social cues
- significant reduction in reaction time
Physical sleep deprivation symptoms at this stage may result in:
- lowered immune functioning
- extreme fatigue
- increases in appetite
- increased inflammation
Period 3: After Forty-Eight Hours
Forty-eight hours without sleep is considered extreme sleep deprivation. At this stage, you are struggling to stay awake. Microsleeps are likely a common occurrence as your body tries to function. At this point, some people will begin to hallucinate, while others experience sleep deprivation symptoms such as:
- heightened anxiety
- increases in stress level
- extreme fatigue
- labored coordination
Period 4: After Seventy-Two Hours
Your sleep deprivation symptoms will intensify after missing three days of sleep. While microsleeps may lengthen in time, they are no match for the hours of sleep you have lost.
The effects of sleep deprivation at this stage will significantly impair your perception and cause significant disordered thinking. You are bordering sleep psychosis and may also experience:
- intense hallucinations
Understanding the Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation
The long-term effects of sleep deprivation are no joking matter. While your fitness goals and gains will undoubtedly suffer, there is a long list of health and wellness consequences to be aware of.
Sleep is vital to your memory performance. While you sleep, your brain is hard at work, forming connections that help you process and recall new information. The adverse effects of sleep deprivation cause your short- and long-term memory to be significantly impacted.
The negative effects of sleep deprivation can significantly affect your body’s release of insulin. As a result, lack of sleep can lead to higher blood sugar levels, putting you at greater risk for type 2 diabetes.
Lack of sleep lowers your libido. In men, this may be due to the decrease in testosterone levels when your body has not had an adequate sleep.
Thinking, concentrating, and problem-solving are all impaired as the effects of sleep deprivation take hold. Your mind becomes foggy as your critical thinking skills and decision-making become delayed.
The chemicals responsible for sending signals to your brain to regulate your eating habits suffer from lack of sleep. The effects of sleep deprivation hinder these chemicals from letting your brain know you are full. Eventually, this can lead to obesity and additional health issues.
The effects of sleep deprivation may cause higher levels of chemicals associated with inflammation. Paired with heightened blood pressure, the two may lead to heart disease.
Fatigue causes a severe lack of coordination and balance. In addition, the effects of sleep deprivation put you at risk for accidents that may otherwise be prevented.
Increases in Pain
Developing pain or feeling an increase in pain can be an effect of sleep deprivation. When your body experiences persistent pain, it can cause interruptions in sleep, an inability to fall asleep, or additional stress and anxiety over the pain itself.
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Workouts
While establishing a workout routine is a great natural sleep aid and beneficial to implementing healthy sleep habits, working out without proper rest can set you back or lead to injury. Your fitness efforts will begin to plateau as your gains begin to decline. Without the ability to rest and repair, your hard work is powerless against the effects of sleep deprivation. Instead, you will add to body and mind exhaustion.
Poor muscle recovery is another negative effect of sleep deprivation that will detour your fitness goals. Your body works hard to repair muscles after a workout. Without proper sleep, your muscles aren’t able to rebuild and strengthen after an intense breakdown. If you push yourself without proper rest, you may inflict joint pain, stiffness, and aches throughout your body.
When you are well-rested, your motivation levels are high and you are focused on your fitness goals for the day. Coordination is optimal with seven to nine hours of restful sleep, lowering your risk of injury. The effects of sleep deprivation can hinder your form, performance and skew your perception of exertion.
Understanding the Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Immune system
Let's take a deeper dive into the harmful effects of sleep deprivation on your immune system. During a healthy night’s sleep, your immune system will produce antibodies and cytokines—protective, infection-fighting agents. Your immune system utilizes these substances to ward off foreign invaders, like toxins, bacteria, and viruses. Specific cytokines also aid you in a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from building up defense mechanisms necessary to keep you protected. As a result, your body becomes susceptible to invasion while recovery times are lengthened.
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Respiratory system
Sleep apnea, a nighttime breathing disorder, disrupts your sleep and significantly reduces your quality of sleep. Sleep apnea causes you to wake up several times throughout the night due to the repetitive stopping and starting of your breathing. In addition, adverse effects of sleep deprivation from sleep apnea makes you vulnerable to respiratory infections and chronic lung disease.
Most people with sleep apnea are unaware of their sleeping condition. More often than not, they assume they slept uninterrupted throughout the night yet always feel unrested when they wake. It is usually a significant other who catches the effects of sleep deprivation, including continuous breathing interruptions and awakenings during the night.
If you have concerns about sleep apnea, consult your physician. Referral to a sleep specialist may lead to testing and a diagnosis. If your sleep deprivation symptoms are determined to be sleep apnea, you may be given a breathing device to help during sleep. The most common device is a continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machine.
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Digestive system
Let’s examine the link between obesity and sleep deprivation more closely. Sleep affects the levels of leptin and ghrelin, two hormones responsible for controlling your feelings of fullness and hunger.
Leptin signals your brain when you’ve had enough to eat. However, without proper sleep, your brain’s level of leptin is reduced, and ghrelin, an appetite stimulant, is increased. The flux of the two hormones helps explain nighttime snacking urges and late-night overeating.
Symptoms of sleep deprivation involving obesity include reducing your body's release of insulin after you eat. This release aids in reducing your blood sugar level. Lack of sleep also lowers your body’s glucose tolerance and is linked to insulin resistance.
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Endocrine system
Sleep is vital to hormone production. The production of testosterone, for example, is dependent on at least three hours of uninterrupted sleep. Sleep disturbances during the night interfere with your endocrine system’s ability to produce the hormone. Waking up throughout the night could affect hormone production.
The interruption in sleep also affects the production of growth hormones, decrease optimal functions, including:
- building muscle mass
- repairing cells
- repairing tissues
How Can I Improve My Sleep?
First, don’t panic. No matter how bad your sleep habits currently are, it’s never too late to make improvements to negate the adverse effects of sleep deprivation. It’s like the gym; you’re never too old to start making changes to improve your health. From incorporating sleep supplements to implementing natural sleep aid routines, you can make improvements today.
Here are eight ways you can start to improve your sleep:
- Stick to a schedule. Weekdays and weekends shouldn’t vary. Go to bed and wake up at similar times each day, adding natural sleep aid routines to help you relax at the end of your day.
- Start a screen-free sleep ritual. Your bedtime routine should not include the use of bright lights or electronics. Instead, try some of our favorite natural sleep aids, like reading, yoga, or meditating.
- Avoid daytime naps. If you typically find it difficult to fall asleep, skip the nap so that your body is ready for sleep at night.
- Exercise daily. Move your body! Exercise is an ideal natural sleep aid and tends to fix a lot of health issues.
- Check your environment. Ditch lights of any kind and rid your room of noises that disturb your sleep regularly.
- Make sure you’re comfortable. Hint: your mattress’s life expectancy is only about ten years.
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine in the evenings. All of these substances can disturb your natural sleep rhythms.
- Try adding sleep supplements to your bedtime routine. The use of sleep supplements from a reputable brand provides a safe way to help you drift off into uninterrupted sleep. Combining a natural sleep aid routine, like a calming bath or white noise, with your sleep supplements are ideal.
Our Favorite Sleep Supplements for Optimal Health
We’re Supplement Superstore, so of course, we believe in the power of sleep supplements to provide a beneficial impacton your health and fitness. Sleep supplements can help you achieve better quality sleep regularly so that you can complete the trifecta of fitness: sleep, exercise, and diet. Check out these natural sleep aid ingredients and look for them in your next sleep supplement:
A lack of vitamin B6 can cause both insomnia and depression. Give your body a boost with a sleep supplement that contains vitamin B6. You’ll help your body produce more serotonin and melatonin naturally. These hormones are vital to quality sleep and optimal mood.
Check out: Allmax ZMA Sleep Supplements
GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric, is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the brain. GABA reduces the activity of neurons in the brain to promote relaxation, enhance mood, and improve sleep. Use a sleep supplement with GABA to ease anxiety so you can sleep more peacefully.
Check out: 5% Nutrition Knocked the F*CK Out Sleep Supplement
Like GABA, melatonin is another hormone found in the brain. As changes in light throughout the day occur, the brain releases melatonin, signaling that it’s time to sleep. Sleep supplements that contain melatonin are excellent sleep aids because they can “trick” the brain into feeling tired, especially in individuals who do not produce enough melatonin on their own. If your natural sleep aid supply seems slightly low, add in a melatonin sleep supplement to assist.
Check out: Allmax Lights Out Sleep Supplement
Natural Sleep Aid Recommendations for Better Rest
The best way to prevent the harmful effects of sleep deprivation is to ensure you are proactive about getting adequate sleep. Developing natural sleep aid routines can be as simple or elaborate as you like.
We’ve compiled a list of our best tips and natural sleep aid go-to’s to get you started:
- Avoid caffeine at least several hours before your usual bedtime.
- Stick to the same bedtime each night to train your body for sleep.
- Wake up at the same time every morning – yes, that includes weekends!
- Spend an hour before bed on something relaxing to calm your mind and ease your body into relaxation.
- Don’t exercise in the evening close to bedtime. While it’s the best natural sleep aid, it should be done prior to bedtime. Instead, try light stretching or meditation before bed. It’s a great relaxation technique and can be used throughout your day to help relieve stress buildup.
- Enjoy natural light, as it helps regulate your body’s natural production of melatonin and regulate your internal clock.
Avoid Unwinding with Screens
While unwinding from a long day with a movie may seem like a great natural sleep aid, it is quite the opposite. The blue light from your screen can stimulate your brain, prompting it to stay awake. Even more, blue light from your tv, phone, or tablet reduces melatonin production. So, if you're serious about combatting the adverse effects of sleep deprivation, turn off the movies and stop the social media scrolling about an hour prior to bed.
Arming yourself with knowledge and resources will help you identify symptoms of sleep deprivation before they inflict further damage. From sleep supplements to natural sleep aid routines, you’re ready to take on the effects of sleep deprivation.