Sleep experts recommend we get 7-9 hours of sleep a day. Sounds delightful! But in reality, our lifestyle choices are keeping us sleep deprived. In place of needed rest, we hang out late with friends or we’re overextending ourselves with work projects. If you’re a mom of little ones, your nights are likely spent getting them to sleep. And when they finally are, maybe you’re staying up late bingeing on Netflix shows.

How bad is a little sleep starvation? Well, if you slack on sleep too often, here’s the toll it can take:

You’re gaining weight.

Your body’s low on energy, and so you – in an effort to get more energy – you run to sugary and carby snacks. Blame it on the increased production of ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, in your gut. Too much ghrelin makes your body crave fatty and sugary foods. To boot, lack of sleep can slow down your metabolism. And that could be why you’re not seeing the scale move in the right direction.

Your memory sucks.

Can’t find your keys again? Look right in front of you. That’s where they were when you couldn’t find them last week. When the zzz’s are low, your memory isn’t as sharp as usual. More sleep is a remedy, according to a recent National Institutes of Health study. In one mice experiment, researchers showed for the first time that more rest helps the brain flush out the toxins associated with memory loss. Boost your memory by getting more rest.

Your emotional state is kinda jacked up.

Now you may be a rollercoaster of emotions, anyway. But if you’re not, and you find yourself crankier than normal, or down in a more depressed state, lack of sleep could be involved. In addition, poor sleep could affect how well you read other people’s emotions. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience, found that sleep loss dulls the ability to read facial expressions, an important component of emotional intelligence.“Recognizing the emotional expressions of someone else changes everything about whether or not you decide to interact with them, and in return, whether they interact with you,” said study senior author Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley.

Your skincare game isn’t so good.

They don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing. Staying up all night too often can result in a lifeless, dull complexion. Skin repairs itself while you’re asleep. So the less you get, the more you’re apt to battle wrinkles, puffy eyes, dark circles and even damage to your hair. Sleep deprivation causes a decrease in blood flow to the skin surrounding your face, experts say. The same challenge happens with your hair. When blood flow is low, your hair isn’t getting the awesome nutrients it needs to grow and stay strong. And let’s face it: A well-rested woman just looks healthier.

Finding balance is tough.

Meaning, you’re a little klutzy lately. Sleep deprivation messes with your fine motor skills. You’re so tired that your brain isn’t processing your movements. This leads to slow reaction time or falling due to balance issues. Note: Working out at this time is bad idea. Don’t sacrifice form and results. Instead, get some sleep!

You’re tired all of the time. 

It’s bad when you start nodding off at the worst times — while you’re in a meeting at work, enjoying someone’s company or driving your child to school. You’re no good to anyone when you’re overtired. Experts call these unintentional and dangerous bursts of sleep “microsleep.” They last for 1 second to 2 minutes, and can happen when your eyes open. (You look awake, but you don’t notice a traffic light change.) Scary, right?

There are even more consequences for not getting enough sleep. But let’s focus on how you can get more of it. Five quick tips:

  1. Shut down Instagram. The soft blue glow from your phone, tablets and laptop is counterproductive to resting your mind for sleep. Cover up your phone to hide the notifications that instantly light up the face.
  2. Set your internal clock. Aim to get up and go to bed at the same time on most days — allowing yourself that 7-9 hours the experts say we should get.
  3. Avoid late-night caffeine. A coffee drink at night? Don’t do it. But also stay away from drinks and foods with caffeine, like chocolate.
  4. No late-night workouts either. Unless it’s sleep-inducing sex or yoga, finish up your exercise routine 3-4 hours before bedtime.

 

Stacy Julien is editor in chief of CRUSH. Follow her on Instagram at @stacyjs_fitlife and Facebook @fitwstacyJ.