Surprising Ways Sleep Changes Affect Your Life

April 4, 2019  |  
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Because I work from home, it’s easy for me to let my sleep schedule slip out of my control. All it takes is for me to say yes to a 4pm activity, and suddenly I’m wrapping up work at 10pm, having dinner at 11pm, dozing off at 2am and…waking up at nearly noon the next day. I do love the freedom that the freelance life gives me, but I also need to enforce some structure or I can start to feel like a less-than-functional member of society. I’m freelance, yes, but I shouldn’t let the freedom part of that get out of hand. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule—particularly one that lets you be awake for plenty of sunlight—is very important for your physical and emotional health. A small adjustment in your sleep schedule can cause problems. Becoming a total night owl can really have some serious consequences. Here is how drastic sleep changes affect your life.

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It affects your social life

You start to see friends less, because you simply aren’t on their schedule. They’re having happy hour drinks at 5pm, but you just started work at noon, so you’ll be working until 8pm or 9pm. You also can’t join them for a morning workout class because you’ll still be asleep. But missing out on friendship can lead to depression—we are social creatures after all.

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Your days feel shorter

Though you may be awake for the same amount of time, you aren’t experiencing as many daylight hours. The day naturally feels shorter. You feel rushed. You feel like the day is ending when it barely just began, since the sun is dropping, and you’ve only been up for a few hours. This feeling that the day goes by too fast increases the feeling that life goes by too fast, which can also trigger depression.

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Less sunlight can lead to other issues

The mere fact that you aren’t up with most of the sun means you aren’t getting vitamin D, one nutrient many people are low on, and one that you need for many important functions.

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You eat at odd times/alone

You start to eat at odd times. Breakfast is at 11am. Lunch is at 5pm. So, when everyone else is having meals, you’re in the middle of work. You wind up having to eat a lot of meals alone, which can feel very sad.

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You fall behind on oral hygiene

When your routine becomes odd, it’s easy to fall behind on oral hygiene. If you wake up at nearly noon, you may forget to treat the morning like a morning because, well, it isn’t. So you don’t brush your teeth until the evening, before you meet up with people, and then you don’t brush them at bedtime because you feel like you just brushed them.

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You fall behind in your skincare routine

For the same reasons you fall behind on your oral hygiene, you also fall behind on your skincare routine. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of just washing your face once a day, in the afternoon, versus twice a day, in the morning and evening, when you’re a night owl.

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You spend less time with your partner

You spend less time with your romantic partner because he’s on a regular sleep schedule. So, when he wants to have dinner together, you’re in the middle of your workday. You never go to sleep or wake up together, either. You share a bed, but you barely spend time together in bed.

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You make poor food decisions

In addition to eating alone because of your new eating schedule, you also eat less healthfully. It’s funny how being awake late at night, when nobody else is, has a way of convincing us that half a pizza at 1am doesn’t count. But it does.

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So you may face digestive issues

Your new and strange eating schedule can lead to digestive issues. A regular sleep schedule is important for healthy digestion, and especially for regularity. Messing with your sleep schedule can lead to constipation.

setting a sleep schedule

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When you must set an early alarm…

On the rare occasion that you must set an early alarm—for an appointment or travel—it feels absolutely miserable. You cannot fall asleep in time. You only get a few hours of sleep before heading out, and you’re a total zombie.

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You fall behind on chores

By the time you’ve finally finished work and can grocery shop or run to the drycleaners, everything is closed. Your domestic chores start stacking up.

setting a sleep schedule

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You may get headaches

Adjusting your sleep schedule can lead to headaches. Oversleeping or being low on sleep causes the blood vessels in your brain to expand and contract in a way that can lead to headaches and can even trigger migraines.

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You may turn to more stimulants

You may feel sluggish, even if you slept plenty, when you’re a night owl because you don’t get enough sunlight. So you’ll turn to more stimulants like coffee and energy drinks. You don’t have pique sunshine to keep you alert, so you turn to unhealthy alternatives.

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You befriend other night owls

You naturally befriend other night owls. But, they may be depressed and sluggish, since they’re experiencing all of the same things you are. They don’t help boost your mood.

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Your sense of time is warped

Your overall sense of time is warped. Things that happened yesterday can feel like they happened two weeks ago. You always feel slightly removed from reality, since you just don’t move and work during the same hours as everyone else does. This can cause mood swings and depression.

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