• Are you sleep deprived?

We all need sleep, lots of it. We all try to get by with as little as possible in our busy lives, but in reality we need 7-8 hours a night. Our bodies give us plenty of signs that we need more sleep, but most of us ignore them. So, how can you know if you are sleep deprived?

1. You can’t even make a simple decision. When you are tired, you’re less able to distinguish between important and irrelevant information. You’re overwhelmed by minor details. Should you wear the white blouse or the blue one to work today? Do you want an aisle seat or a window seat for your flight to New York? Do you want potatos or rice with dinner tonight? Even the simplest decision takes on great importance. Tired people also have trouble adjusting to changing circumstances and make riskier choices.

2. You are still hungry! Studies show that chronic sleep loss disrupts blood sugar levels and causes the body to make appetite stimulating hormones. Tired people tend to eat more sugars and other simple carbohydrates. And sleep deprivation erodes self-control, probably why I had that bowl of ice cream last night. (No, I was not living my mission!)

3. You are always sick. It seems a no- brainer, but people who don’t get enough sleep are more vulnerable to infection than those who are well rested. People who sleep less than seven hours a night are three times more likely to get a cold than those who got enough sleep.

4. You cry over all the commercials, not just the Hallmark ones! People who don’t get enough sleep have difficulty responding in emotionally appropriate ways to situations. Without sleep you are more emotionally volatile, which explains why I am more short-tempered when I don’t get enough sleep. Tired brains store negative memories more effectively than positive ones, so when you are tired you feel down more often than when you are well rested.

5. You’re clumsy. You trip over the furniture and dropped your coffee all over the floor. Lack of sleep causes slower and less precise motor skills, imparied reflexes and lack of focus. And sleepiness may throw off balance or depth perception, making stumbling and tripping easier.

How do you recover if you’re not getting enough sleep? Of course, try to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Also get some sun, exercise, eat right and take a nap!

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