You might only recognize fatigue as a sign you need more sleep, but the truth is your body can tell you to get more rest in a number of subtle ways.
To help you better listen to yourself to know when you need more sleep, we've outlined four signs of sleep deprivation that are tough to spot:
1. Personality changes
Do you find yourself making snap decisions that are out of the ordinary for you? Are you a lot moodier than usual? These behaviors could be a sign of serious sleep deprivation.
Shelby Freedman Harris, the director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, told the Huffington Post that the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with judgment and impulse control, is easily influenced by a lack of sleep.
"Less sleep leads to poorer judgment and acting impulsively, e.g. poor eating when sleep deprived, buying things without thinking about the consequences, irritability and mood issues with others," she said.
While people often associate crankiness with tiredness, it takes more than just a nap to correct it. According to Harvard Medical School, even a short-term loss of sleep can negatively affect a person's mood or overall outlook on life. That connection between sleep and mood is a cycle too, as mental health issues can lead to further sleep deprivation.
2. Weight gain
If your eating habits are changing, and you're gaining weight because of them, quality sleep could be the solution. In 2004, the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort study was the first to show how sleep could affect weight gain, suggesting that individuals who sleep fewer than six hours a night have an increased risk of obesity. The researchers pointed to the reduction in leptin levels, the hormone that suppresses appetite, and an increase in ghrelin, which stimulates hunger.
This sign is tricky to attribute to sleep deprivation, as weight gain can come from a number of different causes. However, if you find yourself gaining weight, making the effort to sleep 7-8 hours each night couldn't hurt.
3. Poor productivity
If you want to get promoted at work, pulling all-nighters aren't the best way to make a good impression. Without the proper amount of sleep, the mind can't work to its full potential and will struggle to concentrate and produce quality work. In fact, a 2009 study that demonstrated how poor rest can inhibit focus and slows reaction time.
Without sleep, you're also more likely to be at a loss for words, which doesn't bode well in business meetings. According to Harris, sleep deprivation affects the frontal lobe, which is responsible for functions related to speech, constructive thinking and creativity. Sleep-deprived people tend to have more slurred, monotone speech and use more cliché phrases.
4. Bad memory
When you're tired, you're not as conscious of your surroundings, leading you to forget little things like where you put your car keys or what you ate for breakfast. A study from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that people need a certain amount of sleep each night to consolidate memories. While this forgetfulness might not be a serious issue at first, research from the National Institutes of Health showed how sleep can impact brain health by clearing out the toxins related to neurodegeneration.
To browse our selection of sleep support supplements, click here.