Patricia Sarmiento

Most people are aware of the importance of getting a good night’s rest, but an unfortunate many are also acutely aware of just how evasive a good night’s sleep can be. Of course, not getting enough sleep leaves you cranky, exhausted, and irritable, not to mention less effective at both work and home.

Sometimes even your best efforts fall short, and despite staying in bed for a full eight hours each night, you still end up suffering the ill effects of inadequate sleep. If you’re experiencing any of the following warning signs, it could indicate that you’re suffering from a sleep quality issue.

1. | You’re hungrier during the day.screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-56-33-pm

Changes in appetite can of course be an indicator of other health problems, but you might be surprised to learn that feeling hungrier than usual throughout the day can be a sign that you’re not getting enough rest. When your body isn’t well-rested, it tries to compensate through the energy you consume through food. Additionally, inadequate sleep can alter your body’s ability to sense that it’s full, which can lead to overconsumption.

2. | You’re gaining weight.

If you’re eating more than usual and not expending those extra calories with physical activity, you’re bound to put on a few pounds. But weight gain isn’t just a consequence of consuming more food; it can also result from increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which the body produces more of when it’s sleep-deprived. Cortisol has been linked to weight gain, particularly around the midsection.

3. | You’re noticing short-term memory problems or having difficulty focusing.

If you’re busy keeping up with work and family, you might be inclined to write off short-term memory lapses as a result of being frazzled or stressed out. But constantly forgetting where you put your keys or not recalling what you watched at the movie theater last week can also be an indication that you’re missing out on much-needed sleep. Likewise, feeling as though you’re unable to focus well (such as having to read the same sentence several times) can be an indicator that you’re not getting enough quality sleep.

4. | You’re getting sick more frequently.

Sleep is your body’s opportunity to repair and restore itself, and it’s been linked to immunity in a number of studies. One study found that participants who slept, on average, less than seven hours per night were nearly three times as likely to catch a cold compared to participants who got at least eight hours of sleep each night.

Other research has found that mammals who require the most sleep produce the most white blood cells, the body’s first line of defense against illness and disease, and that species that tend to sleep more generally have greater resistance to pathogens.

5. | You’re noticing blemishes, dark under-eye circles, or other changes in your appearance.

Studies have shown that certain characteristics of a person’s physical appearance can reveal clues about how well they’re sleeping. Red, puffy eyes, dark circles under the eyes, pale skin, and even wrinkles and fine lines can make an appearance when you’re not getting enough quality sleep.

While these signs can help you identify whether you’re experiencing a sleep quality problem, they also provide information to the people you interact with. Thus, these seemingly subtle changes in appearance can actually have social impacts, influencing how others perceive and communicate with you.

Quality sleep isn’t always as simple as going to bed every night and sleeping a certain number of hours. Both the quantity and the quality of your sleep can have impacts on your health and well-being. Identifying possible signs that you’re getting inadequate sleep and taking steps to correct any sleeping issues you’re having, such as making changes to your diet or adding exercise to your daily routine, is important for avoiding the lasting and detrimental effects of chronic sleep deprivation.

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