Are you one of the 50 million to 70 million US adults who aren't getting enough sleep? If you have young kids, we're just going to assume you are — but at this point, you might be so used to functioning with less than the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep that you don't even realize you're exhausted anymore. Even if you're eating right, squeezing in workouts, and living a healthy life in every other way, your lack of sleep can still negatively affect your health and well-being, often in unexpected ways. We consulted with the sleep experts at Nectar, a leading online memory-foam mattress company, to find out the sneaky symptoms of sleep deprivation. Check them out below.
1. You're Always Hungry
Eat a hearty lunch but find your stomach rumbling for a snack by 3 p.m.? "Sleep deprivation can increase your appetite by affecting two key hormones in your body: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that gives you the sensation that you are full, signaling the red light to not take another piece of apple pie. Meanwhile, ghrelin is the hormone that gives you that hunger signal, internally saying, 'I'm ready to eat, where's the pizza?'" the Nectar sleep experts explain. "When you get a good night's sleep, you're able to properly control these hormones in order to keep them balanced. When you're sleep deprived, your body has difficulty regulating itself, making it hard to tell if your appetite is real or if your body is simply sending false alarm bells."
2. Your Skin Is a Mess
Beauty sleep isn't just a saying, as you probably know from looking in the mirror after a night spent up with a fussy newborn or sick kiddo. But you may not know that not getting enough zz's doesn't just make you look bad in the short term — it can also cause premature aging in the long term. "While you're sleeping, your skin works to repair damaged cells. Therefore, lack of sleep can cause redness, puffiness, dark circles, and bags around your eyes. If continued for long periods of time, this can eventually lead to wrinkles, lines, swelling, and droopiness at an early age," Nectar's experts say.
3. You're Clumsy
Dropping dishes or tripping over your own feet? Sleep deprivation could be the cause. Nectar's pros say, "When you're overtired, you tend to move slower than usual. This lapse in function causes a significantly lower reaction rate and can result in issues with your motor skills, making you unsteady on your feet. If you find yourself repeatedly tripping over a step or two, it might mean your motor skills are not thriving."
4. You're Super Emotional
You thought your days of tearing up at every corny commercial would end when the baby was born, but your little one is here and you're still crying at the drop of a dime. Those all-nighters you're pulling could be the culprit. "A good night's sleep helps promote emotional resilience, while lack of sleep can lead to emotional vulnerability," Nectar's sleep experts explain. Without it, they say, you may feel like you're riding an emotional roller coaster. "Beyond just crying over the little things, lack of sleep tends to cause problems coping with stress. Eventually, this can lead to anxiety, depression, and other disorders."
5. You Keep Getting Sick
Your immune system needs sleep to function at its best, leaving you less able to fight off infections. And if you have a tyke in day care or preschool, you're constantly being exposed to germs. The Nectar team explains, "During sleep, your immune system produces cytokines, which are proteins that aid in protecting you from viruses, inflammation, etc. So if you keep getting colds and always feel like garbage, lack of sleep might be to blame."
6. You're Losing Everything
Every parent forgets to put the lunchbox in their kid's backpack occasionally, but if you're constantly losing your car keys, misplacing your phone, or forgetting names and appointments, Nectar's experts say this memory loss could be a sign of something more; specifically, a lack of sleep. "A good night's sleep leads to memory consolidation and emotional processing. Therefore when you're overtired, it becomes much more difficult to be attentive and inhibits your ability to remember certain things."
7. You Can't Concentrate
Concentrating on anything is hard when you have demanding little ones running around, but if, in your moments of solitude, you find yourself reading the same paragraph over and over without knowing what the heck it says or wasting time on Facebook instead of finishing that important Excel doc for work, it could be due to inadequate sleep. Nectar's team explains, "Inability to concentrate is a sure sign you're not getting enough sleep at night." They add that beyond a lack of focus, sleep deprivation can also impair your ability to make decisions.
8. You Don't Remember Lying Down in Bed
Are you one of those people who falls asleep the moment your head hits the pillow? You might think this is a good thing — but occasionally the opposite is true. Nectar's sleep experts explain, "If you don't remember laying your head down, it's a sign that you could be experiencing extreme exhaustion during the day without even realizing it." Yet another sign that you're not getting sufficient zzz's!