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Not Getting Enough of These 6 Nutrients Could Be Wrecking Your Sleep

Not Getting Enough of These 6 Nutrients Could Be Wrecking Your Sleep

Even if you get in bed at a decent hour, your diet could be affecting the quality of your sleep.

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In a perfect world, we would all get to bed on time and sleep for eight hours straight. And the next morning, we’d wake up feeling rested and energized. While that is actually the case for some, it is not for many of us. In fact, 40 percent of Americans get less than the recommended amount of sleep on average.

Our stressful lifestyles, sedentary activity levels, and poor diets have recently all been linked to low sleep quality. In fact, diets lacking in whole foods can lead to vitamin deficiencies, which are closely tied to sleep disorders. Here are some of the essential nutrients you may be lacking if your sleep is suffering.

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Magnesium is involved in more than 300 metabolic reactions in the body—including reducing stress and blood pressure, boosting our metabolisms, and keeping our nerves and muscles strong—yet it is one of the most difficult nutrients to get enough of. Magnesium is not only responsible for reducing anxiety and improving sleep quality, but also boosting energy levels to keep you powered through the day.

The NIH advises men and women between the ages of 19 and 30 consume 400 and 310mg, respectively, and increase to 420 and 320mg after age 30. While many Americans don’t get enough of this essential nutrient, it can be easily obtained through a plant-forward diet. Some of the best sources of magnesium are nuts, spinach, black beans, soy, whole wheat bread, avocado, and potatoes.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is another hard-to-get nutrient, especially during grueling winter months. Sunshine is our best source of this hormone, and sun exposure is a factor in properly producing melatonin, the hormone in charge of regulating our circadian rhythms. Similar to magnesium, Vitamin D deficiencies are not only linked to poor sleep quality but also to lower energy levels throughout the day.

The NIH advises the average adult consume 600IU of Vitamin D each day, which is relatively easy to come by for omnivores. Fatty fish, beef liver, and fortified dairy are all good or excellent sources. However, if you are vegetarian or vegan, you may have to stock up on Vitamin D-fortified products if you don’t spend much time in the outdoors. Orange juice, some plant-based milks, and cereals are often fortified with Vitamin D. Mushrooms are also a great source.

Interested in learning more about the link between sleep and our health? Read these stories next:


Looks like your mom was onto something when she would give you a glass of warm milk before bed! We typically associate calcium with bone health, but it is also an important factor in our sleep quality. Calcium deficiencies are linked to difficulty falling asleep, as well as non-restorative sleep.

The NIH advises men and women between the ages of 19-50 obtain 1000mg per day, while women over the age of 50 should increase their intake to 1200mg per day. Some excellent sources of calcium are dairy products, sardines, fortified plant-based milks, tofu, and turnip greens. Pro tip: consuming Vitamin D-rich foods helps your body better absorb calcium, so eat them together for max benefits.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to a host of sleep problems—from insomnia to sleepiness, not getting enough of this vitamin can wreak havoc on your nighttime routine. Vitamin B12 is also extremely important for our heart health and energy levels.

The NIH advises anyone age 14 and up should consume 2.4mcg B12 daily. The vitamin can only be found in animal protein sources such as beef, fish, eggs, chicken, and dairy products. While vegans are advised to supplement their diets with B12, nutritional yeast is a delicious vegan flavoring agent that packs anywhere from 20-300 percent of our daily B12 needs per serving.


Potassium is most commonly linked to preventing muscle cramps, but the mineral is beneficial for a variety of reasons. Potassium regulates blood pressure, strengthens our muscles, and works with magnesium to improve sleep quality.

The NIH advises men age 19 and up obtain 3400 mg potassium per day, while women should strive for 2600 mg. Potassium is found in a wide range of foods, but several plant-based foods give you the most bang for your buck. Dried apricots, lentils, raisins, potatoes, kidney beans, soy, and bananas are all excellent sources of the nutrient.

Vitamin B6

Reading through a list of the possible consequences stemming from a Vitamin B6 deficiency is pretty terrifying, making sleep quality just one of many reasons to ensure you’re getting enough of this nutrient. Vitamin B6 is responsible for over 100 enzyme reactions in the body, and specifically helps us with protein metabolism.

The NIH advises adults between the ages of 19-50 consume 1.3mg of B6 per day, while men and women over 50 should strive for 1.7 and 1.5mg, respectively. Some of the best sources of this B vitamin are chickpeas, tuna, chicken, potatoes, turkey, and bananas.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3’s have become a hot topic in the nutrition world as fewer people are fearing fat and more are understanding its importance in a healthy diet. Omega-3’s are known for boosting our heart and brain health and have even been linked to reducing anxiety and insomnia. This heart-healthy fat not only reduces these problems, but also promotes improved sleep quality.

The NIH advises females age 19 and older consume 1.1g of these essential fatty acids each day, while men are advised to consume 1.6g per day. Fatty fish, canola oil, flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts are all great sources of omega-3 fats.

Is Ovaltine Healthy or Just a Sweet in Disguise?

Children worldwide are familiar with the rich, delicious taste of Ovaltine. This popular malted milk drink mix has been around since the early 1900s. Today, it's just as popular as it was decades ago. But does it really live up to the claims? Is Ovaltine healthy for toddlers or is it just candy in disguise?

Mix Ovaltine with coconut, almond, soy or rice milk to boost its nutritional value. Use it in your favorite desserts for extra flavor.

1. You’re Thirsty

While it may seem obvious, "thirst is the body's first natural cue that you need to have a drink of water, and it's a sign — at least to some degree — that there's some dehydration," Mills says.

What's happening, she explains, is a pretty cool physiological process: As dehydration sets in, electrolytes (minerals like sodium and potassium) in your bloodstream become more concentrated, which delivers a thirst cue to your brain. Saliva production also goes down, and that dry mouth feeling creeps in.

6 Reasons Wrecking Your Immunity

When your body immune system is really weak, you fall unwell at the drop of a hat. 6 reasons which might ravage your immunity are your diet regimen, inadequate sleeping pattern, stress levels not in check, not obtaining sufficient vitamins and also various other essential nutrients with your daily diet.

Ever marvel why some people never ever get ill throughout flu season?

Do you question why you never ever make it through the influenza season without getting ill? Some people seem to be ill all the time, and also get every bug that’s going.

Every year countless people come down with the flu. This season be proactive. Consider what is emphasizing you out and trashing your immune system down. In order to help recognize why you are getting ill, find out the six factors that will certainly boost your possibilities of getting ill in the initial place.

Once you understand what these are, you could help your immune system keep you well this flu season. Remember if you do get unwell it is essential to stay home, rest, and also clean your hands so you do not make others around you sick.

In some instance, you may have to see your wellness expert as well as obtain a complete checkup to make sure that there is absolutely nothing serious causing you to be ill greater than the average individual is.

Keep in mind that it is not easy luck that some are very healthy and balanced, while you appear to catch something every other month. There are some well-researched reasons as to why some people obtain ill more frequently compared to others do. So allow’s have a look at ways to maintain you well this influenza season.

6 Reasons You Might Fall Sick

1. Diet

A bad diet regimen will decrease your resistance. There are so many expressions about healthy consuming, such as ‘you are just what you consume’, this has actually never been truer. Your body needs a well-balanced, healthy diet that gives all the essential food groups and also vitamins.

Without an appropriate diet, your body could not work successfully as well as battle any infections away. It is very important to eat organic entire foods. Consuming refined foods and also sugars will make you tired, develop swelling and also is extra likely to make you sick.

With a healthy and balanced diet plan, any little pest that comes your means can quickly and also quickly be battled without turning right into an illness.

2. Sleep Deprivation

Quite simply, if you do not get adequate rest, you will certainly drop ill. Sleep makes it possible for the body to rest and also recuperate, as well as without this, it will certainly be incapable to operate properly.

While we sleep, the immune system generates proteins that fight swelling and disease. When you are unwell or worried, your body requires even more of these healthy proteins, without sleep, your body simply could not make enough to combat the infection.

During rest, the body immune system creates healthy proteins that fight inflammation as well as illness. When you are sick or stressed, your body needs even more of these proteins, without sleep, your body merely could not produce adequate to eliminate the infection.

While rest starvation leads to boosted diseases like colds and influenza, it has actually been revealed to have a lot more hazardous and also lasting impacts. Conditions such as heart illness, obesity, and also diabetic issues have all been connected to rest deprivation.

3. Stress

Stress is a typical component of living as well as actually, in small doses, it can be healthy. When we come to be as well stressed out for too long, our health and wellness is dramatically affected.

Research has continuously revealed that chronic stress and anxiety straight influences our immune system, damaging it and making us a lot more susceptible to health problems. Anxiety directly contributes to small diseases, but additionally far more serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, as well as cardio disease.

Too much anxiety is also connected to sleep deprival – exactly how numerous times have you not had the ability to rest due to the fact that you have also much on your mind that you worrying or stressing about?

In short, way too much tension is extremely negative for our wellness. To assist lessen your stress and anxiety practice yoga exercise, meditation, sluggish deep breathing exercises and also requiring time just to relax.

4. Nutrients And Vitamins

While all vitamins and nutrients are necessary, some are specifically good at eliminating infection and diseases. Magnesium, particularly, assists us to handle tension, and also react to situations.

When we are stressed, weak or often also simply chilly, we are making use of up our shops of magnesium. Unless this is replaced, we will certainly be running low and consequently most likely to get ill.

Similarly, vitamin D is crucial for several basic features, and it is much harder to obtain adequate degrees in the winter season. Vitamin C is a necessary part of the immune system, as well as without it, you will certainly most likely be dropping ill.

If you are not getting adequate vitamins as well as various other necessary nutrients through your daily diet regimen, take into consideration taking a supplement to ensure you are able to battle any type of illness that comes your method. If you do begin to really feel like your falling victim to something you could start on numerous remedies such as mushroom formula, zinc, elderberry, or a mix of these.

5. Dehydration

People typically aren’t consuming alcohol sufficient water. One method to guarantee consuming even more water is to change soft drink and lattes with water. Every part of our body relies on an adequate quantity of water to operate properly.

Without enough water, crucial organs as well as muscular tissues struggle. Daily, we shed a huge amount of water with our bowels, sweat, and urination. Think of how completely dry as well as aching your throat would lack any moisture or water.

Dehydration takes place when you are not changing lost liquids adequately, and your body begins to battle. It may not seem like a huge problem initially, as the signs and symptoms resemble that of a moderate cold or a migraine. Dehydration can become life intimidating if left uncared for.

6. Overwork

Are you a workaholic? Do you function a lot more than you relax or unwind? Is work always your primarily priority? This could well contribute to being run down. When you are diminished, you are more vulnerable to illness.

Bottom line, there is no magic to health, it truly is about self-care. It takes an effort to preserve a high level of healthiness, however you are well worth it!

Are anti-nutrients wrecking your diet?

Variety is one of the main keys to a healthy diet. The rationale behind this is simple enough: a varied approach makes for greater nutrient density. Meat, grains, fruits and vegetables all possess different nutrition profiles, but all are essential to good health. When it comes to food however, you are what you absorb. And the presence of anti-nutrients in your diet could very well hamper that.

No need to cry wolf

Image from Paxabay

Well, maybe it’s not as bad as it sounds. According to nutritionist Charlotte Mei, one shouldn’t need to worry too much about the presence of anti-nutrients. “They are present in the foods we eat but we’re still doing okay and not suffering from any detrimental nutrition deficiencies even after consuming them,” she says.

Furthermore, the so-called “danger” posed by anti-nutrients boils down to a matter of scale. For example, glucosinolate is a naturally-occurring compound found in cruciferous vegetables like kale. Aside from having a suppressive effect on the thyroid, it also affects its ability to process iodine into thyroid hormone. However, the fact is that glucosinolates are largely destroyed by the cooking process. Even if one were to consume kale raw, it would take a near-obscene amount of it (on a daily basis too) to pose a problem. And only if the person in question already suffering from an underlying thyroid disorder and iodine deficiency.

“I would say that it’s not necessary to think about anti-nutrients affecting our health status on a daily basis. It shouldn’t be a concern if one has a well-balanced diet including a variety of nutritious foods throughout the day. This way, one would have enough of these dietary minerals in their diet to offset any minor losses in nutrient absorption caused by anti-nutrients.”

“Anti” isn’t necessarily a bad thing

Picture on Unsplash

Scientifically speaking, the term “anti-nutrient” refers to any compound that reduces the body’s ability to absorb or use essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Some examples of anti-nutrients include: glucosinolates, lectins, oxalates, phytates, saponins and tannins. While the prospect of nutrient deprivation does sound scary, the truth is that there also health benefits associated with these anti-nutrients.

The same glucosinolates that interfere with iodine uptake are also responsible for giving kale its caner-fighting properties. Phytic acid, an ant-nutrient common in grains and legumes, may be helpful in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It might be surprising to learn that these anti-nutrients are also known by another name – phytonutrients. These are the same highly celebrated health-boosting compounds that people associate with whole foods.

Being mindful is simple
Picture on Unsplash

Of course, that is not to say that we should pay no heed to anti-nutrients entirely. Certain groups of people would do well to minimise their intake of these compounds. “Populations who are at risk of diseases related to mineral deficiencies (anaemia with iron deficiency, osteoporosis, etc) may want to pay closer attention to their eating habits, or even consume more vitamin C-rich foods with meals that contain phytic acid to boost mineral absorption,” says Charlotte Mei.

Reducing the anti-nutrient count in your food is fairly easy. Steaming kale, broccoli and carrots can cut down on the level of glucosinloates and oxalic acid, while soaking brown rice has a similar effect in phytic acid levels. So as long as you’re not eating your food raw, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.

What to Eat to Sleep Better at Night

A well-balanced diet is important for maintaining optimal health and reducing the risk of medical conditions like heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes (1). Many people don’t realize that our dietary choices can also impact our sleep, including how long we sleep, the quality of our sleep, and even the content of our dreams.

What to Eat to Sleep Better at Night

In general, a diet that supports sleep is similar to one that supports a person’s overall health and helps to maintain a healthy weight. A well balanced diet focuses on nutrient-dense foods and limits foods that are higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium (2).

Both diet and sleep can be challenging topics to research and it’s important to remember that everyone’s dietary needs are different. If you’re interested in improving your sleep through diet, talking to a doctor or nutritionist before making any dietary changes can be a helpful place to start.

Current evidence suggests that certain foods and dietary patterns can affect sleep. Below are some tips on what to eat before bed and diet adjustments that may help you sleep better.

Tips on Tryptophan

Many people believe that both turkey and milk are foods that can make you tired. Tryptophan, also called L-tryptophan, is an amino acid that is found in animal products like turkey, chicken, eggs, and fish, as well as in dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Consumption of tryptophan has been shown to reduce depression and increase sleep duration (3).

Sleep-Friendly Fruits

Cherries may help combat insomnia (4). Drinking tart cherry juice has been found to reduce the severity of insomnia and help people fall asleep faster. Research suggests that several types of cherries contain high amounts of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone.

Kiwi is another fruit that may promote sleep. Research has found that consuming a few kiwis an hour or two before bed may help people fall asleep faster, wake up less often during sleep, and stay asleep longer. While the exact reason for this relationship is still unclear, kiwis may promote sleep through their high concentrations of antioxidants and folate.

Be Cautious of Caffeine

Pouring yourself a cup of coffee is a common way to give yourself a boost of energy during the day. Unfortunately, drinking coffee too late in the day can interfere with sleep. Coffee contains caffeine, a naturally occurring ingredient in many foods (5). Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning that it can increase alertness and help people stay awake.

Coffee isn’t the only drink that contains caffeine. Many foods and drinks contain caffeine, including tea, soft drinks, and chocolate flavored products like ice cream, pudding, and even cereal. Avoiding caffeine before bed is important because caffeine can make it more difficult to fall and stay asleep. Research suggests that caffeine should be avoided for at least six hours before sleep (6).

Reduce Late Night Snacks

Eating too close to bedtime can increase the likelihood of disrupted sleep. A study examining the relationship between meal times and sleep quality found that young adults who ate within 3 hours of sleep woke up more often during the night (7) than those who did not. To avoid having late-night meals interrupt your sleep, try eating dinner a few hours before bed and keep snacking to a minimum.

Avoid Alcohol Before Bed

Drinking alcohol is a double-edged sword when it comes to sleep. While alcohol has sedative properties that may help some people fall asleep faster, it can also reduce sleep quality and cause people to wake up during the night (8). Alcohol can also lead to snoring, worsen existing sleep apnea, and increase the symptoms of other sleep disorders. To protect your sleep quality, set your last call to at least four hours before bedtime.

Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Key Nutrients

Having a diet that’s rich in nutrients is vital for good sleep. Large research studies have investigated potential links between nutrient deficiencies and short sleep times (9), usually defined as less than seven hours a night. While researchers are still studying this topic, people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be deficient in nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D, and E.

Now that you know which foods help you sleep and which eating habits to avoid close to bedtime, you can adjust your diet to improve your sleep.

Eating Too Many Omega-6s Could Be Wrecking Your Health. Here&rsquos How to Fix It

Five simple RD-approved tips for balancing fatty acids in your diet.

One important key to fighting obesity and other chronic diseases? Fewer omega-6 fatty acids in our diet, and more omega-3s, according to the authors of a new editorial published in the journal Open Heart.

Both types of fatty acids are essential for the body: Omega-6s𠅏ound in vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower, and corn oil—play a role in brain function, growth and development, reproductive health, and promote healthy hair, skin, and bones. Omega-3s𠅏ound in fatty fish—reduce inflammation, regulate blood pressure, and are crucial for the brain and heart. They’re also tied to a lower risk of many conditions, including diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, stroke, arthritis, asthma, and some cancers.

But it’s important to strike a balance between the two nutrients. As the authors of the editorial point out, humans beings evolved on a diet that contained equal amounts of both. Today, they report, thanks to technological advances and modern farming practices, Americans now eat sixteen times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s.

That’s a problem because while omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, omega-6s tend to be pro-inflammatory. Therefore when omega-6 intake is high and omega-3 intake is low, the result is excess inflammation and boost in the production of body fat.

The drastic imbalance in the Western diet has been tied to more than just obesity. It&aposs also been linked to diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, depression, pain, inflammatory conditions like asthma, and autoimmune illnesses.

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to consume more omega-3s while dialing back on omega-6s. Here are five steps you can take toward a healthier balance:

Check ingredients

Processed foods𠅎verything from frozen meals to canned soup, crackers, and salad dressing—may be loaded with omega-6s, due to the vegetable oils used by manufacturers. Check labels and curtail or avoid products that contain corn oil, soybean, sunflower, safflower, and cottonseed oils. The same goes for fast food, which is also typically made with those oils high in omega-6s. You can look up the ingredients in various menu items online.

Buy organic, grass-fed meat and dairy products

Research shows that foods that come from grass-fed and organically raised animals contain more omega-3s. Grass-fed beef, for example packs about 50% more omega-3s than regular beef. (For more info, check out my post all about grass-fed meat.)

Replace margarine with EVOO

Since margarine is typically made with oils high in omega-6s, I recommend ditching it. In its place, use extra virgin olive oil (which is low in omega-6s) or grass-fed butter (which is higher in omega-3s than conventional butter).

Eat more fish high in omega-3s

The best sources include salmon, sardines, rainbow trout, and mackerel. If you&aposre not a fan of fish, consider talking to your doctor or dietitian about a fish oil supplement. He or she can help you choose a brand that provides the right amount of DHA and EPA, the types of omega-3s in fish, for your health needs.

Load up on plants

Eating more produce helps displace processed foods that may be sources of omega-6s. Plus, some plant foods contain a type of omega-3 fatty acid called ALA. It has a different chemical structure than the more beneficial DHA and EPA found in fatty fish but a small percentage of ALA can be converted to DHA and EPA in your body. The more ALA you consume, the better.

ALA is found in nuts and seeds like walnuts, chia seeds, and flax, as well as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, dark leafy greens, and berries.

In general, I recommend aiming for three to five servings of veggies, and two servings of fruit per day. Each serving should be about a cup (or the size of a tennis ball when raw). One way to do this is to include veggies at all three meals: Add them to your breakfast smoothie or omelet, eat a salad at lunch, and include a few servings of vegetables (steamed, saut, oven roasted, or grilled) at dinner. As for fruit, have a serving at breakfast, and a second serving as a mid-day snack. Also, sprinkle nuts and seeds into smoothies, oatmeal, salads, and stir fys. Better balance, achieved.

Cynthia Sass is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and consultant for the New York Yankees. See her full bio here.

You can barely stay awake in the afternoon&mdasheven if you slept 8 hours.

"Fatigue is one of the first signs of B12 deficiency," says Lisa Cimperman, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That's because your body relies on the vitamin to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your organs. And without enough oxygen in your cells, you'll feel tired no matter how long you sleep. Fatigue can mean a number of things, though, so you can't assume you're B12 deficient if feeling sleepy is your only complaint&mdashdoctors usually are tipped off if you've got fatigue plus other symptoms.

Do this energizing yoga move for an instant energy boost:

7. Magnesium: Loss of Appetite, Nausea, Fatigue, and More

Magnesium helps support bone health and assists in energy production, and adults need between 310 and 420 mg, depending on sex and age, according to the NIH. Although deficiency is fairly uncommon in otherwise healthy people, certain medications (including some antibiotics and diuretics) and health conditions (such as type 2 diabetes and Crohn’s disease) can limit the absorption of magnesium or increase the loss of this nutrient from the body.

Magnesium deficiency can cause loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and weakness, according to the Cleveland Clinic. In more severe cases, it may also lead to numbness and tingling, muscle cramps or contractions, seizures, irregular heart rhythms, personality changes, or coronary spasms.

To help your levels return to normal, eat more magnesium-rich foods, such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, spinach, black beans, and edamame, Patton says.

Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep (And How Much You Really Need a Night)

If you eat well and exercise regularly, but don’t get at least seven hours of sleep every night, you may be undermining all of your other efforts.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

And we’re not being dramatic! Sleep disorders expert Harneet Walia, MD, says sleep is crucial for our health – and many of us are lacking when it comes to it.

“First and foremost we need to make sleep a priority,” says Dr. Walia. “We always recommend a good diet and exercise to everyone, but along the same lines we recommend proper sleep as well.”

How much sleep do you actually need?

Everyone feels better after a good night’s rest. But now, thanks to a report from the National Sleep Foundation, you can aim for a targeted sleep number tailored to your age.

The foundation based its report on two years of research and breaks it down into nine age-specific categories, with a slight range that allows for individual preference:

  • Older adults, 65+ years: 7 to 8 hours.
  • Adults, 26 to 64 years: 7 to 9 hours.
  • Young adults, 18 to 25 years: 7 to 9 hours.
  • Teenagers, 14 to 17 years: 8 to 10 hours. , 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours.
  • Preschool children, 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours.
  • Toddlers, 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours.
  • Infants, 4 to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours.
  • Newborns, 0 to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours.

Dr. Walia says there’s evidence that genetic, behavioral and environmental factors help determine how much sleep an individual needs for their best health and daily performance.

But a minimum of seven hours of sleep is a step in the right direction to improve your health, she says.

What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?

Your doctor urges you to get enough sleep for good reason, Dr. Walia says. Shorting yourself on shut-eye has a negative impact on your health in many ways:

Short-term problems can include:

  • Lack of alertness. Even missing as little as 1.5 hours can have an impact on how you feel.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness. It can make you very sleepy and tired during the day.
  • Impaired memory. Lack of sleep can affect your ability to think, remember and process information.
  • Relationship stress. It can make you feel moody and you can become more likely to have conflicts with others.
  • Quality of life. You may become less likely to participate in normal daily activities or to exercise.
  • Greater likelihood for car accidents. Drowsy driving accounts for thousands of crashes, injuries and fatalities each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If you continue to operate without enough sleep, you may see more long-term and serious health problems. Some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, impairment in immunity and lower sex drive.

Chronic sleep deprivation can even affect your appearance. Over time, it can lead to premature wrinkling and dark circles under the eyes. There’s also a link between lack of sleep and an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body. Cortisol can break down collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth.

So lack of sleep could mean more wrinkles! Understand why sleep is so important yet?

How to Sleep Better

If you’re experiencing mild, occasional problems with sleep, try these simple strategies from sleep expert Michelle Drerup, PsyD, DBSM.

1. Treat getting enough sleep as if it is as important as taking medicine.

With all the demands on our time every day, you might put a good night’s rest at the bottom of your priority list. But Dr. Drerup says we need to schedule adequate time for sleep.

“It’s very easy to stay up late and burn the candle at both ends,” she says. “However, when you do that, you quickly run into a problem of dealing with sleep deprivation.”

2. Keep a consistent wake time.

Wake up at the same time every day, including weekends or days off. Waking at the same time every day will actually help you to sleep better at night. A fixed wake time helps to build a strong desire for sleep throughout wakefulness. This sleep drive gradually builds, and shortening it by sleeping in will make it harder to fall asleep the next night. Sleeping in on the weekend makes it much more difficult to wake up earlier on Monday morning.

It also is important, Dr. Drerup says, to do some relaxing activity such as taking a warm bath or reading a book before bedtime. By making these activities part of your bedtime ritual, you can train yourself to associate these activities with sleep. This association will help you to move more easily into slumber.

3. Put away the smart phones and tablets.

Electronic devices keep your mind humming — and far from the relaxed state you need to achieve before bedtime. Dr. Drerup advises it’s a good idea to put away devices like smart phones and tablets at least one hour before bed time.

4. If you do wake up during the night, avoid looking at the clock.

“The minute you look at that time it’s not just looking at one number,” Dr. Drerup says. “You start mental calculations, you think about how long it’s been since you’ve been in bed and what you have to do the next day. And before you know it, a long time has passed and that cuts into your sleep time.”

Make time for downtime

“In our society, nowadays, people aren’t getting enough sleep. They put sleep so far down on their priority list because there are so many other things to do – family, personal stuff and work life,” Dr. Walia says. “These are challenges, but if people understand how important adequate sleep is, and how to sleep better, it makes a huge difference.”

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy