July 20, 2021
Sam and I finally went on our honeymoon a few weeks ago (3 years late nbd), and it made me realize that I desperately needed that break more than I even knew. While we were there, I noticed a few changes within myself – I was eating foods that usually cause “problems,” yet I was still feeling great. My digestion was the best it’s been in a long time. My skin was clear. I could think clearly. I felt like I was literally glowing with happiness.
I’m sure some of this had to do with the insanely gorgeous overwater bungalow, sunshine, and scenery BUUUUT there is also one common denominator to how amazing I was feeling – SLEEP.
I was actually sleeping.
At home, I’m in constant work mode. I get up early and get after the day, and I’m usually up super late – still working. I don’t mind it when it’s happening, because I truly love it. But that doesn’t stop the lack of sleep from slowly chipping away at my health and wellbeing.
Now that we’re home and back to “real” life, I want to hold myself accountable to make sleep a priority. And I want to help YOU figure out if sleep could be the missing link in your healthy lifestyle!
Let’s start with some signs that you need more sleep.
1. Your energy level is all over the place
Low energy is one of the most obvious signs you need more sleep. But there’s more to it than just feeling tired. Sometimes, lack of sleep shows up in different ways that might not be so obvious.
You could feel totally fine and alert and ready for anything all day long, but notice a huge drop in energy during your workouts. This is a huge sign for me because I’m usually so busy during the day that I don’t notice how tired I am, because I don’t slow down. But then I start a workout and notice I’m fatiguing quickly or my muscles feel weak.
2. It’s hard to concentrate
Ugghhhh I hate it when I can’t focus. Even if I don’t really feel tired, I know that this is a sign that I’m pushing myself too hard.
According to Sleep Foundation, chronic sleep deprivation makes it hard to concentrate and stay on task, learn new things, and make decisions. So if you’re staying up super late to work, study, etc. and you notice you’re bouncing around from TikTok to Instagram to shopping to YouTube instead, it might not be procrastinating. You might just need to rest!
3. You’re moody
Sam can confirm this – I am NOT pleasant when I’m tired. Usually that just comes out when I’m suuuuuuper tired after a really busy or stressful day, but I’ve definitely noticed that my fuse is shorter when I’ve been staying up late a lot or not sleeping well.
And “moody” doesn’t always mean angry or snappy. It can also mean you’re just more sensitive or you experience mood swings. When your body is tired, it’s harder to control your emotions. You might cry about things that normally wouldn’t bother you, or get stressed more easily.
4. And SO SNACKY
Who knew that having cravings is just one of the big signs you need more sleep?! It makes sense – your brain needs more energy to make up for what it’s not getting from sleep. So it craves energy from food.
There are two main hormones that regulate your appetite:
Leptin, which tells your brain that you’re full, you don’t need more food. And ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite. Being tired throws both of these off, suppressing leptin and increasing ghrelin.
In other words, you’re always hungry.
5. Your digestion is “off”
This was the BIGGEST shock to me on our honeymoon. Normally, eating a lot of gluten, dairy, and sugar is bad news for my digestion. It makes me so uncomfortably bloated that I can hardly move and just makes me feel horrible. But on vacation, I decided indulging was worth the risk. I ate what I wanted, and prepared to pay for it.
But guess what happened? NOTHING.
I pretty much felt normal! I mean, I didn’t feel AS good as I do when I totally avoid those foods, but I didn’t feel super bloated and uncomfortable. I was able to enjoy creme bruleé almost daily with no regrets.
Why did this happen? SLEEP. Lack of sleep increases inflammation in the gut, which causes problems over time. Resting my body allowed some of that inflammation to calm. Plus, being on a regular schedule with little to no stress made a huge difference!
6. You keep getting sick
I think we can all agree that we have NO time to be sick.
Sleep has a huge impact on your immune system. One study even found that getting less than 7 hours of sleep at night makes you THREE TIMES more likely to catch a cold. Whaaaaaat?!
Here’s why this is one of the biggest signs you need more sleep – your immune system works while you sleep to produce cytokines. These proteins defend your body from infection and fight inflammation! If you get sick, lack of sleep will make it harder to recover too.
7. Your skin suffers
Want glowy, clear skin? Prioritize sleep.
It’s always obvious to me when I’m not sleeping well because even my skin looks tired. It’s dull, kinda dry, and prone to breakouts. What I didn’t know until now is that not getting enough sleep causes your skin to lose moisture! Not only does this make your skin dry and more dull, but over time it can increase signs of aging like wrinkles and under-eye circles.
If you haven’t noticed a trend yet, your body WORKS while you sleep. It repairs itself. This is true for the skin too! Blood flow increases and collagen works to repair damage.
So how can we getter better Zzzs?
Okay, so sleep is important. How can we make sure we’re getting enough?
Sleep quantity vs. sleep quality – It’s one thing to get the hours. But what matters is how well you’re sleeping. If it takes forever to fall asleep, or you’re waking up a lot at night, your sleep quality is probably suffering.
So now that you know some signs you need more sleep, what can you do to get it? I have some tips!
- Work on stress management – Stress is a major cause of insomnia
- Get on a schedule – Set regular sleep and wake times as often as possible
- Quit your afternoon caffeine
- Limit screens before bed – Blue light from your phone or computer can disrupt your circadian rhythm
- Create a sleep haven – make sure your room is comfy, from the bed itself to the temperature!
- You might need to avoid exercising at night – sometimes this can boost energy, making it harder to sleep!
- Calm your mind – meditate, take a bath, read a book, etc.
- Talk to your doctor about a supplement – melatonin, magnesium, and some others work for some people!