Deep-belly yawns, nap cravings, an unquenchable thirst for caffeine: Some signs of fatigue are obvious. But since sleep fuels so many processes in the body, tiredness can also be more subtle. Here are six lesser-known signals that you might want to start making sleep a higher priority:
1. You’re always thirsty.
In a 2018 study, it showed that those who consistently slept six hours a night or less had a 16 to 59% higher chance of being dehydrated than those who regularly clocked eight hours. The researchers said a hormone called ‘Vasopressin’ might explain this strange side effect. Insufficient sleep seems to hinder this hormone’s ability to do its job of regulating fluid levels in the body.
2. You fall asleep super quickly.
While lying awake with racing thoughts is no fun, falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow isn’t the goal either. Ideally, you want to fall asleep within five to 10 minutes of closing your eyes. Dozing off within this time frame is a sign that your body and mind are ready for sleep but not completely exhausted. Experts say If it takes you less than five to fall asleep—your body is trying to tell you that you’re extremely sleep-deprived.
3. You have a low sex drive.
Sex drive is largely dictated by hormones, and a lack of sleep can throw those hormones off. One study found that poor sleep can reduce the level of testosterone in particular: a sex hormone that gets both men and women in the mood. Hormonal imbalances can also make it more difficult to fall and stay asleep, potentially leading to a cycle of sleepiness (and sexlessness).
4. You easily fall into negative thought patterns.
When we get a bad night’s sleep, sour moods often follow. One small study in Clinical Psychological Science found that those who were sleep-deprived experienced, on average, 50% more unwanted thoughts than those who had a normal night’s sleep the next morning. Alternatively, getting enough rest seems to promote a positive mood and support our capacity for mindfulness.
5. You always crave sugar and carbs.
When we’re not getting enough sleep, it can stimulate hunger for certain types of foods. Poor (or lack of) sleep affects your hypothalamus, the master control center in your brain of hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. When these hormones are out of balance, it can trigger sugar and carb cravings, making you more likely to choose foods that create gut imbalances.
6. Your workouts feel more challenging than usual.
Sleep is when our bodies recover from the demands of the day so when we don’t have enough of it, we can’t operate at our best physically. If your workouts feel more difficult by the end of the week, it could be a sign that you are sleep deprived. Try getting an extra 30 minutes of sleep every night. You might be surprised just how much better you will feel.
Sleep is nothing to snooze on, and those who don’t get enough of it will struggle in more ways than one. Deep, high-quality sleep can pay dividends for everything from your mood to your sex drive. It’s a gift to yourself that’ll keep on giving long after the alarm goes off.