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What REALLY happens if you don't get enough sleep?

Every morning your alarm goes off, you’ve already been awake for 15 minutes because you naturally wake up on your own. Completely refreshed, ready to take on the day, you’ve got birds singing outside your window eager to help you get dressed like Cinderella.

That’s how it is for everyone, right? Mmmmmm, not so much.

How many times do you hit the snooze button in the morning? Or fall asleep waaaay later than you meant to, with the TV still on?

Not getting the right amount of sleep or not getting good quality sleep might seem like just the way it will always be, because that’s the way it’s always been. So it’s pretty easy to just shrug off. But it’s actually a much bigger deal than you might think.

The effects of lack of sleep are talked about more often, because, well, they’re easier to pinpoint. No one thinks to themselves, “Wow! I definitely feel more alert on my drive-in this morning. Must have gotten some quality zzz’s.” Nope, usually we’re thinking about how we’re dragging ourselves out the door, how we can’t focus at work, and how at 2pm we could easily go to sleep for the night.

On average, healthy adults need 7-9 hours of sleep. SEVEN TO NINE. When’s the last time that happened? If you literally can’t remember, you’re in good company. Well, I should say, you’re in average company. Sleep just isn’t a priority for most people, until they’re absolutely exhausted. But what REALLY happens when you’re not getting enough rest? Just more yawns to stifle or something more serious? Let’s take a look at 3 things I bet you didn’t know can happen when you’re not getting enough sleep (and I’d bet you want to rectify #2 immediately.)

1. You’ll look a lot older, a lot faster.

“Wow, you look tired.” That’s not something you ever take as a compliment. It doesn’t just make you look run ragged on the nights where you slept poorly. Lack of sleep over time actually releases more cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body. Having too much in your system breaks down collagen which keeps your skin smooth and radiant. Not enough sleep also slows down tissue repair that occurs overnight so your skin doesn’t get any time to rest or recover either.

2. Your sex drive can plumet.

Energy goes down, sleepiness goes up. Much like how the body of a person who’s in a survival situation uses up its stored fats first in case no other food comes in, your body in a state of sleep deprivation is only going to use energy to do the things absolutely necessary for your body. Since sex isn’t crucial for survival (except that whole next generation part of it) your body views it as a secondary need and it’s not going to be a top priority.

3. You’re going to gain weight.

Sleep-loss actually stimulates appetites and cravings! There’s a hormone your body produces while asleep that helps curb your appetite and keep those cravings at bay. That’s why people who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night are 30% more likely to become obese.  So while sleep might seem like a pretty passive thing your body does, it’s actually doing a whole LOT of work.

Not getting enough sleep is more dangerous than getting caught sleeping at your desk or having to drink coffee to make it through your kid’s soccer practice. It’s like a built-in reset your body needs in order to keep going at its highest capacity. While 9 hours every night might not be reasonable for you, doing your best to hit 7 hours most nights NEED to be a priority. It’s more than just extra yawns that are at stake.

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