Are You Too Sleepy To Enjoy Your Life?

Here’s how a lack of slumber affects your life—and how to perk up.

| June 26th, 2013
Are You Too Sleepy To Enjoy Your Life?

More than half of YouBeauty readers confessed to having trouble staying awake while driving, eating meals or engaging in social activities within the past month. With 52 percent of us walking around like zombies, it’s no wonder “The Walking Dead” is such a popular show. But is this struggle to keep our eyes open during the day the real horror story in our lives?

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After working up to 16-hour shifts as a cook in a restaurant, 25-year-old Emily* found it hard to unwind and sleep for more than five hours a night. That vicious sleep cycle has sent her into a tired tailspin she struggles to break. Lindsay*, 30, a jewelry designer, also can’t manage to get more than five hours of slumber each night. “I never feel rested,” she says. “My body is tired, but my mind is not.”

Bianca*, 31, who works nights as a nurse at a New York City hospital, is lucky to get six hours of sleep between shifts and sometimes takes Benadryl just to help her fall asleep during daylight hours. “I constantly feel jet-lagged,” she laments.

They have all described symptoms akin to shift work sleep disorder (SWSD). “Those with SWSD often report excessive sleepiness during work times and insomnia during the off hours when sleep is desired,” says YouBeauty sleep expert Shelby Freedman Harris, Psy.D. “Other symptoms may include headaches, weight gain, gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, attention and concentration issues, work absenteeism, irritability and depression.”

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Sheesh, the things we’ll do for a paycheck! But shift work isn’t the only burden that can affect your exhaustion level, as new mom Shannon* can attest. Although the 39-year-old typically gets a good night’s sleep, she admits that her active baby can tucker her out. After six sequential sleepless nights while her husband was out of town, Shannon lost her cool.

“[The baby] was up all the time and wouldn't go back down,” says Shannon, recounting the fatigue and frustration that brought her to tears. “By the end of the week, I was a lunatic. I hated my husband and was so insanely angry with him. It got to the point where I knew I was being irrational, but I couldn't help it.”

And understandably so. Not getting enough sleep not only affects your physical health, but also your mental health, making it hard to even enjoy the people and things you love. “Sleep helps with mood and decreases irritability,” Harris informs.

Working the opposite schedule from her husband, Bianca finds it hard to be able to spend much time with him. And when they do finally get the chance, she struggles to have the energy for their date nights.

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