The Damaging Effects of Lack of Sleep on Your Life

Tired. Exhausted. Worn out.

These words aren’t fun. They’re often an excuse for us being at our worst. They’re signs of working too much and resting too little. They’re an anthem for people in a busy season, with a new job, suffering from an increased workload, or dealing with a new baby in the house.

No, these words aren’t fun… and they describe people who aren’t fun (and sometimes aren’t nice either).

When we lack sleep, we lack the ability to relate and respond emotionally. We lack Emotional Intelligence.

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

Have you dealt with emotions in the past week? Of course. Either your emotions or someone else’s derailed a conversation, started an argument, or resulted in a misunderstanding. People are naturally emotional. But managing our emotions isn’t as easy as having them.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is something we must work on. Emotions can be hard to understand — especially in others. But the more we understand feelings, the better we can respond.

When we understand emotions and respond intentionally, our relationships improve — both professional and personal.

Sleep More. Relate Better.

Improving our EQ starts with something simple: Sleep.

If we want to deal with emotions in a healthier way, we need to get our sleep hygiene under control.

We all know we need more sleep. We should get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Yet, about 40% of Australians don’t get that much sleep.

These are just some of the consequences we deal with because we miss sleep.

Sleep affects our EQ too.

When you’re awake, toxic proteins build up in your brain. This is a byproduct of normal neural activity. As these toxins build up, they impair our ability to think clearly and exhibit self-control. They make us grouchy and impulsive.

It’s why we feel so bad after we pull an all-nighter, only sleep three hours, or our kids wake us up relentlessly through the night.

Without good sleep, toxic proteins stay around. Your body can only remove them when you’re getting enough quality sleep.

Maybe getting more sleep isn’t an option for you — you have kids, a job, demands. But you can still clean up your sleep hygiene. When you improve the quality of your sleep, you’ll be able to let your body work the way it’s supposed to.

Poor Sleep Hygiene Makes You Fat

Still not motivated? Beyond the impaired cognitive function and diminished emotional control that comes with lack of sleep, when you don’t sleep enough, you get more stressed. That means your body overproduces the stress hormone cortisol and you get fatter.

When you don’t sleep enough, your metabolism slows down. Plus, you get hungrier because your body overproduces ghrelin — the hormone that stimulates appetite. Meanwhile, it underproduces the hormone leptin which helps you feel full. So, you have less tendency to feel full, your metabolism is slower, and you’re hungrier. Ouch!

How To Get Better Sleep

Motivated now? Here’s what you do to clean up your sleep hygiene.

  1. Don’t Take Sleeping Aids – Anything that helps you fall asleep too quickly prevents your body from moving through the natural sleep stages that promote high-quality sleep. It’s better to allow your body to go to sleep naturally.
  2. Avoid Blue-Light Electronics at Night – Most screens are high in blue-wavelength light. When you get home from work and open your laptop or hold that tablet up to your face, you’re bathing your brain in “morning” light. You’re stopping melatonin production, telling your body to be alert and awake. Then, when you finally fall asleep, you don’t get the high quality sleep your brain needs to remove the toxic proteins that inhibit our thinking.

Focus on the Goal

Turning off the television and skipping your nightly social media browse sounds difficult, but what’s it costing you?

We could all benefit from the ability to understand people’s emotions better and respond accordingly, especially in HR. And increasing your ability to do just that may be as simple as making the changes necessary to sleep a little more and little better.

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