Some people spend their days exhausted without ever realizing that they need more sleep. That’s because sleep deprivation often rears its ugly head in ways far less obvious than the feeling of tiredness—especially if you’re a heavy user of caffeine or other stimulants. Here are five subtle ways your body may be telling you to make sleep a priority.
You suffer from mood swings
Emotional regulation is a complex biochemical process. No matter how good your manners are or how hard you try to keep yourself in check, you’ll find it difficult to keep your cool if you’re not getting enough sleep. That’s because sleep deprivation impairs the parts of your brain responsible for keeping your emotions balanced and properly tethered to your environment.
You often get sick
"Sleep (or laughter, depending on whom you ask) is the best medicine"—so goes the old adage, and not without merit. Neglecting sleep directly impacts your immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses ranging from the common cold to serious, chronic problems that can derail your life.
You’re very clumsy
Poor sleep translates to generally impaired processing, and your motor skills are no exception. It’s true that some people are just clumsier than others, but if you’re constantly tripping over your own feet, don’t discount the possibility that sleep deprivation may be the culprit.
You can’t concentrate
Studies show that the first part of your brain to suffer impairment from not getting enough rest is your frontal lobe—the part responsible for complex planning, decision-making, and concentration. If you find yourself zoning out or reading the same paragraph over and over again, you may just be bored, or you may need to revisit your sleep schedule.
You’re always ravenous
Hunger and appetite are controlled by two important hormones—leptin and grehlin. When you’re well-rested, your body has a much easier time keeping hunger signals tethered to your actual physical need for nourishment. When you’re sleep-deprived, these hormones go out of whack and you crave high-calorie foods to help stay awake.