Whether you're a night owl or you spring up from bed at the crack of dawn, everybody needs sleep. But if you have a family, a high-stress job or even hobbies that you can only do after all your other obligations, making sure you get enough sleep every night can seem like an afterthought – that is, until you wake up the next morning mentally groggy, physically sore and who knows what else.
Sleep is an essential part of healthy living, and when you start to skimp on an hour of rest this night and two hours the next, you may be seriously damaging your cell health in the process. In fact, once you learn all the ways your body suffers when you burn the candle at both ends, you might be in bed at the same time every night. Check out these three ways your body is negatively affected by burning the midnight oil.
1. You make it harder for your body to metabolize food
Think of sleep as a reset button for your body and mind. While you might not have much to do during those seven or eight hours, the rest of your organs are getting ready for the day to come, and this includes your digestive system. However, when you rob your body of the necessary amount of rest over a period of time, you might find that you pack on the pounds a little more easily.
In fact, researchers at Harvard Medical School found that sleep deprivation was one of the greatest driving factors in the development of obesity. When you're asleep, the body produces hormones that suppress appetite and the normal metabolic process, but the balance of these substances is thrown off when you keep an irregular or shortened sleep schedule. That means the first bite of breakfast you take will go straight to fat cells, as your body just isn't equipped to handle them after an all-nighter.
2. You make yourself sicker
There's more scientists don't know about sleep than what they do, but you can still track the effects of the lack of sleep on critical network of the body, such as the immune system. Researchers are still looking for why this happens, but when you're asleep for the night, the body actually releases microscopic antibodies that fight infections and illness-causing microbes in the bloodstream. This explains why you sometimes go to bed with a head cold only to wake up refreshed and raring to go with a new bill of health.
However, not sleeping deprives your body of these beneficial structures that help your immune system kick its protective powers into overdrive. Sure, you might have had a great time out the night before, but is it worth putting yourself at risk of catching some germs that your body won't be able to defend against?
3. You might look terrible
You might laugh at the idea of "beauty sleep," but there's actually a fair amount of science behind the fact that, when you deprive your body the ability to reset itself overnight, the effects will show on your face.
Everybody has seen these distinct bags under the eyes, and this is caused by the blood vessels just beneath the thin layer of skin on your face. In normal sleepers, these blood vessels are able to keep the cells contained within them, but when you don't catch enough shut-eye, Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, M.D., a dermatologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told WebMD that the effects can be eye opening.
"Lack of sleep causes blood vessels to dilate, causing the look of dark circles," Badreshia-Bansal told the source. "It makes you look angry, tired, sad and certainly older."
With so much riding on getting quality sleep each night, but so many other responsibilities that add undue stress to your life, it might make sense to find a sleep supplement that works for you. By hitting the hay at the same time each night, you'll create a healthy habit that your body will thank you for.