Signs you aren’t getting enough sleep

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Time zone adjustments and busy work schedules are just some of the reasons why many expats suffer from sleep deprivation. But, how do we know if we aren’t getting enough sleep?

By Allianz Worldwide Care | August 15, 2017

Allianz Care - sleep deprivation

Regular and sufficient sleep plays a vital role in physical health, enabling the body to heal and repair.

Although each individuals sleep needs are different, on average, most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well rested.

However, many expats do not get this much sleep on a regular basis. Over time they accept feeling tired as normal, which may result in decreased cognitive function and a negative impact on long term health.

There are some warning signs which can alert us to sleep deprivation and allow for remedial action to be taken:

Falling asleep when you want to be awake

Falling asleep when you're not actively engaged in an activity, or having trouble staying awake when it’s not bed time, could point to sleep problems.

This is particularly dangerous when the individual involved is driving. In a recent survey, almost half of male drivers admitted to experiencing micro-sleeps at the wheel.

Excessive coffee consumption

Because caffeine is a stimulant, many people use it after waking up in the morning or as a pick me up during the day. However, feeling like you need to drink coffee to stay active and alert throughout the day, may be an indication that you are not getting the rest you need.

Caffeine is fine in moderation, however, excessive consumption can exacerbate sleep problems and lead to insomnia and anxiety.

Memory problems

If you are having memory problems, it may be a sign of sleep deprivation.

Sleep is crucial for learning and forming memories, lack of sleep impairs a person's ability to learn efficiently and consolidate a memory, so that it can be recalled in the future.

Weight gain

If the brain is not getting the energy it needs from sleep it will often try to get it from food. Lack of sleep can increase the production of ghrelin and leptin in the body, causing increased cravings for sugary foods and inhibiting our natural ability to feel full.

Excessive sleeping on day’s off

We all deserve a lie in on our day’s off. However, regularly staying in bed for 11 or more hours on weekends can indicate that the body is making up for a sleep deficit.

This is not a healthy sleep pattern, as the body is trying to make up for having too little sleep on a regular basis.

Waking up tired

Waking up and feeling tired or with a sore throat, dry mouth, or headache could point to a sleep problem caused by medical issues such as sleep apnoea or acid reflux.

If you notice these symptoms on a regular basis, talk to your doctor to discuss if medication or other treatment would help you.

More irritable than usual

When you're sleep-deprived, you tend to be more moody and irritable. Sleep and mood are closely connected, poor or inadequate sleep can cause irritability, stress, anxiety and anger.

Get the rest you need

A good night’s sleep repairs the body and mind, which helps you function at your best. Some tips to help your body get the rest it needs include:

  • Go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time each day
  • Keep your room cool, quiet, and dark
  • Exercise regularly – but avoid working out close to bedtime
  • Switch off electronic devices and mobile phones at bedtime
  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Don’t eat big meals before bedtime

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