7 Surprising Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep

Sure, there are the obvious little details that show you might be sleep-deprived. We’re talking about puffy red eyes, constant yawning and an irritable, aggressive demeanor. (Sorry in retrospect to anyone who has ever seen us after a big week at work.)

But what about the more subtle, less obvious symptoms of lack of sleep? Some of them are so surprising you might not have considered them before...

1. Everything is slow

If you’re really tired your reaction time slows right down. That means you might be accident prone, tripping over something or stumbling where you wouldn’t normally stumble.

But it also means that your brain slows down, too. It might take you longer to read an email or you might find your brain drifting of in the middle of a meeting or conversation. Don’t put this down to being over-stressed at work. If you find your productivity sliced in half it’s usually a sign that you’re pretty damn tired. You don’t need an energy drink, you need some shuteye.

2. You fall asleep anywhere

We’ve all been that person snoring away in a movie theatre, at the theatre or on a short domestic flight. If you’re really, truly tired you will be able to sleep anywhere that offers you a bit of darkness and the time to doze off.

Think about it: if you weren’t incredibly tired would you really fall asleep in the middle of a buzzy action movie? Would you really find yourself craving a snooze while a production of opera unfolds before you? Of course not. We’re suppose to be awake and alert for these experiences, not exhausted.

3. You’re making impulsive decisions

According to research people who are suffering from sleep deprivation are more impulsive and more spontaneous than they usually would be if they were well-rested.

The idea is that your brain is functioning on less than its normal amount of rejuvenation, which can lead to spur-of-the-moment choices and impulsive, sometimes reckless decision-making. If you’re doing things that are completely out of character it’s probably because you’re seriously tired.

4. You’re fighting with everyone

Someone cut you off while driving? Your partner driving you up the wall? Your BFF annoying you to no end? If you’re getting into verbal fisticuffs with everyone from your boyfriend to a stranger on the street it could be a sign of sleep deprivation.

We know that tiredness makes us more aggressive, but researchers at the university of Berkeley found a specific link between being exhausted and wanting to fight with people. The cause, they noted, was that when you’re sleepy you don’t have the same impulse control and conflict resolution skills as you normally would. You have been warned.

5. You drift off easily

Falling asleep as soon as you get into bed isn’t a sign that you have a regular, healthy nighttime routine. In fact, it’s a sign of the opposite: sleep deprivation.

It’s normal to lie in bed for a while before drifting off so if your body is so exhausted that it can’t stay awake the second you get horizontal that’s your brain trying to communicate just how sleepy it is.

6. Your moods are swinging

We all like to cry at a particular emotional moment of This Is Us, but if you’re sobbing all the time – or equally, if you are manically laughing at something you wouldn’t normally find funny – it might be a sign of sleep deprivation.

Researchers discovered the link between emotions and sleep in 2007, when a study found that exhaustion led to an increase in the participants’ responses to “negative and disturbing images”. So if the news is making you sob or you can’t keep it together through an episode of Call the Midwife (guilty), you might need to look into your sleep routine.

7. You get a little energy kick late at night

This is a strange one, but it’s true. Many truly sleep deprived people find that they get an energy boost at about 9:30PM, which leads them to think that they’re not sleep deprived at all.

That’s entirely the wrong conclusion to draw, however, as that late-night kick is actually your body kicking into fight-or-flight mode and trying to keep you awake just that little bit longer in order to establish a healthy sleeping pattern.

The best advice in this case is to ignore that energy boost. If you’re attempting to give yourself an early night and you find yourself feeling peppy listen to a zone-out podcast or do some sleep-time meditation to wind down and get your body into sleep mode. Trust us, that energy boost is not your friend.

If you are concerned about your health, wellbeing or sleep, your first port of call should be your GP, who will advise a correct treatment plan.

Now that we’re on the topic, here are 10 simple ways to enhance the quality of your sleep – starting from tonight! – plus the 7 surprising things making you tired.

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