Why Are We All so Sleep-Deprived?
As you prepare to “spring ahead”—a phrase that seems just a tad bit too jolly for the reality of losing an hour of rest—it’s a good time to reflect on a little thing called sleep deprivation. How many of us complain of daily exhaustion? How many of us live with constant fatigue, never able to rise above the brain fog? How many of us ignore our constant lethargy, thinking that’s the way it has to be?
In our culture, being tired is the norm—and according to sleep studies, it’s wrecking our lives. Not getting the recommended minimum of 8 hours of sleep can cause emotional instability, relationship issues, poor work performance, an increase in body weight, a dip in your immune system response, and even physical injury. Not things you want to be taking lightly.
But this is old news—nearly everyone knows how important sleep is for our overall wellbeing, yet very few of us are getting enough. Why? Below, we explore the physical, mental and cultural obstacles to a full night's sleep.
Introducing cortisol, also known as the “Stress Hormone” (cue horror movie soundtrack). Cortisol has a very important evolutionary purpose, but it tends to wreak havoc on our bodies. When our Stone Age ancestors were running from giant mastodons, cortisol would be released from their adrenal glands into their bloodstream—heightening alertness, providing a boost of energy for increased strength and speed, and triggering fear. In this case, cortisol was an awesome resource that probably saved the lives of countless cavemen. Today, however, the hormone tends to make life a lot more difficult.
We tend to put so much pressure on ourselves that cortisol is often released in situations in which our lives are not actually threatened. Sitting through a challenging work meeting, leaving a credit card at the grocery store, or simply not having the time to do everything in your planner can all trigger the release of cortisol. Ultimately, an excess of this hormone (a common ailment among modern folks) makes it really difficult to fall asleep at night, adding to the list of reasons you just can’t seem to get enough shut-eye.
Ever felt yourself peacefully drifting off, only to have the most embarrassing moment of the day flash before your tired eyes? Or tried in vain to fall asleep but couldn’t seem to get tomorrow’s to-do list out of your head? How about replaying the same conversation over and over again, thinking about all the things you should have said? This, LIV fam, is called mental noise, and it can keep you up for hours, torturing you with all the “woulda couldas shouldas” of the last 24 hours. Mental noise is another aspect of modern life that can keep us awake. We spend all day thinking critically and analyzing all our options and can’t seem to stop when it’s time to go to sleep--making for later and later bedtimes.
A Culture of Exhaustion
In a society in which dark under-eye circles are badges of honor, it’s easy to see why so many of us have a hard time getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Our culture rewards those who put work ahead of their personal needs-- we see them as ambitious and self-sacrificing, good workers and upstanding citizens. But there may be a fatal flaw with this logic: sleeplessness and fatigue decrease our productivity significantly, making the exhausted overachiever less of an asset in the workplace than a well-rested employee.
Moreover, those who prioritize work over self-care tend to burn out quickly and lose their motivation after years of sleep deprivation. No matter how much caffeine you drink, how well you eat, or how good you are at ignoring exhaustion, you cannot outrun your biological need for sleep. Eventually, it catches up with all of us
Is there any hope? Certainly! Exercise and meditation can soften the physical and mental obstacles to falling asleep, and taking some of the mental pressure off yourself can also be a big help. If you’re ready to start a new, earlier bedtime routine, try our breakthrough new sleep product, Liquid I.V. Sleep. One stick in 8 ounces of water can help you prime your body and mind to fall asleep more quickly and get the rest you need. Just remember to set an alarm clock.
Sleep well, LIV fam!
Written by: Samantha Colicchio, Liquid I.V. Brand Storyteller