We have all experienced a sleepless night at least once in our lives. There are days when we find ourselves unable to fall asleep no matter what methods we try.
A night of tossing and turning can compromise our work performance the following day. But did you know that it can affect more than just your daily activities?
On the odd days when you just can’t put yourself to sleep, counting sheep or a warm glass of milk would usually help. But if you’re always having a hard time getting some shut-eye no matter how tired you are, it’s high time to check in with your health.
Having difficulties falling asleep and waking up during the middle of your rest could be a tell-tale sign of insomnia.
Insomnia Versus Sleep Deprivation
A lot of people think that insomnia and sleep deprivation could only mean the same thing. In general, sleep deprivation refers to a decrease in the number of one’s sleeping hours.
In that sense, sleep deprivation is an effect of insomnia since it steals away your time for sleep. But even so, sleep deprivation should not be mistaken for insomnia.
Most people don’t take sleep deprivation too seriously. They tend to think that a quick lifestyle change would automatically reset their body.
However, to cure both sleep deprivation and insomnia, it is essential to know the differences between the two.
As you have already read, sleep deprivation means a lack of sleep according to health standards.
On average, a person must have at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep. If your sleeping hours are much lower than these standards, you are sleep-deprived.
The cause of sleep deprivation comes in many different forms. There may be certain activities in your life that are taking too much of your time away from rest.
Whether you’re working overtime or partying up until the early morning, the activities you participate in are the root causes of your sleep deprivation. Its effects usually show after some time if no action has been taken to change.
Meanwhile, insomnia is a sleep disorder where one finds it difficult to fall or stay asleep – no matter how tired or exhausted they are.
A person who is experiencing insomnia did not choose to stay up all night. They had all the opportunities to go to sleep, but they were still unable to fall asleep.
It is important to note that insomnia isn’t the effect of choosing unhealthy lifestyle choices. It is more often than not linked to several psychological and medical causes.
Unlike sleep deprivation, a simple lifestyle change may not end the symptoms of insomnia.
Consequences Of A Lack Of Sleep
Statistics show that 37% of 20-30-year-olds in the United States report having a short sleep duration. And about fifty to seventy million people are affected by insomnia. Apart from insomnia, it is shocking how most people cannot afford to have good sleeping habits.
Perhaps it is because they needed to work overtime at work, or their job requires them to come into work even in the middle of the night. Because of this, sleep deprivation has become part of their daily routine.
Sadly, most people don’t realize how grave their health situation is until it’s too late. Below are some of the most common health-related issues when one is sleep deprived:
Unsatisfactory Work Performance
Without some much-needed rest, our bodies will not have the necessary energy to perform daily activities. Our bodies need to be in top condition for us to be productive at work.
When we lack sleep, our minds are tired. It becomes difficult to focus, and we do not have enough energy to finish our tasks.
The decrease in productivity inevitably leads to unsatisfactory work performance. If you are struggling to keep up with work, it may be because you are sleep-deprived.
Feeling sleepy during the day is an effect of not getting enough sleep. But there’s more to it than the constant yawning or the lack of energy.
Drowsiness doesn’t just hinder you from performing the simplest tasks, but it is also a safety hazard.
Did you know that drowsy driving is one of the most common causes of death on the road? Statistics say that there are about 1,550 deaths and 40,000 non-fatal injuries that were all caused by drowsy driving.
Apart from putting a person in life-threatening situations, daylight sleepiness disrupts a person’s sleep cycles. You are not awake when the sun is up, and you aren’t asleep when it is down.
Having such sleeping habits can be detrimental to your health in the long run.
Effects In Hormone Production
Our hormones act as messengers that tell our body what its cells need to do. We need hormones for our bodies to function. Things such as hunger and reproduction are dependent on hormones.
However, when one is sleep-deprived, their bodies are unable to produce enough hormones for the body to perform simple functions. And when one has a hormonal imbalance, our bodies are susceptible to numerous health-related issues.
Weak Immune System
Apart from hormone production, we also need to pay attention to is our immune system.
We are exposed to millions of germs, bacteria, and fungi every day. It is our immune system that protects us from some harmful and infectious organisms.
Studies show that sleep-deprived individuals catch colds easier than those who sleep well enough. Aside from messing up with our hormone production, sleep deprivation also weakens our immune system.
Can you imagine how dangerous it is for our health when we both have a hormonal imbalance and a weak immune system?
Body Weight Issues
Think that a weaker immune system and a decrease in hormone production are the only effects of sleep deprivation?
Think again. Aside from these consequences, your body weight is also at risk if you don’t get enough sleep.
If you’ve ever been in a diet or are planning to lose some weight, you may have heard some people tell you that sleep is crucial for weight loss. A lot of health and fitness trainers recommend sleeping for 7-8 hours every night.
We’ve mentioned above that sleep deprivation can adversely affect your body’s hormone production, including two hormones that are essential to weight loss: leptin and ghrelin. These hormones control our feelings of hunger and satisfaction.
You might notice a change in your appetite after going through nights without much-needed sleep.
For some people, they may feel hunger more often even if they’ve had enough meals for the day. Others may notice that they don’t have the appetite to eat. Because of this, they do not get enough nutrition needed for the day.
Apart from this, sleep deprivation also releases insulin into our bodies. Insulin is the culprit behind type 2 diabetes. Too much insulin in your body is also the reason why your body might be storing unnecessary fat.
Other Underlying Health Issues
It is natural to feel exhausted after a few nights of no sleep. But if you suspect something abnormal about your sleeping patterns, it might be a sign of some underlying health issues.
Individuals who have certain conditions like asthma and allergies are prone to insomnia. Moreover, people who have serious illnesses, such as Parkinson’s Disease, kidney-related issues, and even cancer are also likely victims of insomnia.
If you find that your sleeping habits are showing some worrying symptoms, it is time to check in with your doctor. They can make a thorough assessment of your body’s condition.
And they can also discover some health conditions which need immediate attention. Remember that it is easier to recover from a health issue when you address them earlier.
There are a couple of medications, such as sleeping pills, that one can take for insomnia. Unfortunately, these medications would often have a side effect on some people.
Using Essential Oils For Better Sleep
There are plenty of solutions for someone who is sleep-deprived to get some rest. One solution is to get rid of objects or activities that get in the way of your sleep.
For starters, you can avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine. You can also make your sleeping quarters a little more comfortable and inviting. Change your light bulbs and place the television somewhere else.
There are also a couple of medications, such as sleeping pills, that one can take for insomnia. Unfortunately, these medications would often have a side effect on some people.
And when you take sleeping pills too often, they become less effective. What other options do you have? Don’t worry! There’s one natural and powerful solution you can try.
Did you know that essential oils can also help you get to sleep?
For many centuries, people have used essential oils in aromatherapy. These oils have various medicinal properties, and they are said to have the power to improve one’s mood.
It can also create a more calming environment. It reduces stress and anxiety, and it can also induce sleep all at the same time.
The best part of it all is that essential oils are a natural alternative. They have lesser side effects than prescribed medication. If you are interested in how they work, below are some of the best essential oils for sleep, as well as some recipes for you to try.
3 Best Essential Oil Recipes For Sleep
There are various ways on how to use essential oils. You can apply it to your skin topically and use it as a massage oil.
You can also add a few drops to your bath salt for a relaxing time in the tub. The most recommended method for better sleep is to use the essential oils as a pillow spray or as a blend for the air diffuser.
The recipes below are for air diffusers, but you may also use them as a recipe for pillow sprays. If you are going to use these recipes for a pillow spray, please don’t forget to add some distilled water to dilute the oils.
The measurements depend on the number of essential oil drops you’ve added. For the recipes below, you may add six tablespoons of water.
Essential Oil Blend #1: Lavender and Cedarwood
Lavender is perhaps the best essential oil to use for better sleep. Lavender essential oils can calm the senses and reduce stress. It also has a pleasant aroma.
You may use your lavender essential oil by itself, but if you would like a more potent solution, try adding a few drops of cedarwood oil.
The aroma of the cedarwood oil supports your pineal gland which releases melatonin, or otherwise known as the body’s sleepy hormones. The warm and woody scent of the cedarwood oil compliments the lavender essential oil very well.
To create your blend, mix three drops of lavender essential oil with three drops of cedarwood oil into the air diffuser.
Essential Oil Blend #2: Lavender and Sweet Orange
If you aren’t a big fan of woody scents, you may trade cedarwood oil for sweet orange instead. Citrus oils are usually used to encourage focus and regain energy.
But in this case, the sweet orange oil helps in promoting better breathing. This oil blend is best for those who have a cold.
To create this bend, add three drops of lavender and three drops of sweet orange.
Essential Oil Blend #3: Chamomile, Bergamot, and Frankincense
Like lavender, chamomile is one of the more popular essential oils for calm and relaxation. If you find lavender to be too strong for your nose, chamomile is the more gentle alternative.
Meanwhile, bergamot is often said to be a cross between a lemon and an orange.
But unlike the strong citrus smell of an orange, bergamot is sweeter and lighter. To make this essential oil blend powerful, try adding a few drops of frankincense into the solution too.
Like bergamot, frankincense reduces stress and anxiety, and it is often used together because their scents compliment the other.
To make this blend, mix three drops of chamomile and two drops each of frankincense and bergamot.
It’s unfortunate, but sleep deprivation is becoming more and more common every day. Although the demands of work may try to steal our hours of sleep away from us, it is still no excuse to ignore your health.
Try these essential oil blends that promote better sleep. It’s not just to catch up with your Z’s, but it’s also one way to take care of yourself.
Allen Wei is someone who believes in living his best life, focusing on balance, happiness, and relaxation. He fosters a positive lifestyle in terms of his body, mind, and environment, and he is a huge proponent of learning to be balanced via relaxation techniques integrated into our busy lives.