According to sleep statistics, over 60% of adults around the world say they don’t sleep as well as they’d like. This is a ridiculously high percentage, especially as a lack of sleep or a lack of quality sleep has huge effects on physical, mental and emotional health.
Regardless of how many hours of sleep you get a night, if the sleep you’re getting isn’t quality, this massively impacts your body, mood and day-to-day activities. Putting yawning and sleepiness aside, there are a few strange or hidden signs that are a clear indication you’re not sleeping well.
From selfishness to clumsiness, here are 5 strange signs you’re not getting quality sleep. We’ve already looked into more ‘normal’ sleep deprivation effects (opens in new tab) like getting sick more often, so check this out for more sleep advice.
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1. You’re constantly hungry
The first odd sign you’re not getting quality sleep is that you’re constantly hungry. According to a recent TikTok (opens in new tab) from NHS surgeon Dr Karan Raj who educates millions of viewers on medical advice, ravenous hunger is a result of poor sleeping patterns. Dr Raj says this is because “the body releases more of the hunger hormone ghrelin and less of the hormone leptin which makes you feel full. More hunger and less feeling full means you eat everything.”
Without your body telling you to stop eating, you’re more likely to give into cravings to satisfy your hunger and give yourself the energy your brain is lacking from poor sleep. This also contributes to weight gain as a lack of good sleep can slow down your metabolism, with studies finding that a shorter sleep duration was commonly associated with obesity.
2. You’re selfish
Not getting good or enough sleep at night can also make you more selfish. In Dr Raj’s TikTok, he said that “one of the worst affected areas after a bad night’s sleep is the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that regulates our social behaviours. This, in addition to high cortisol levels, means you’re less inclined to help other people.”
A recent study published in PLOS Biology (opens in new tab) also found that sleep loss leads to the withdrawal of human helping in individuals, groups and large-scale societies. According to the research, “insufficient sleep impairs emotional processing, including deficits in emotion recognition and expression, while conversely increasing basic emotional reactivity, further linked to antisocial behaviour.” So, not only are you more selfish to the people around you, but you’re likely to be more irritable, snappy, impulsive and unable to understand other people’s emotions or problems.
3. You’re clumsier than normal
If you’ve started to notice that you trip or drop things more often, this could be a sign that you’re not getting quality sleep. Clumsiness is a clear sign that you’re overtired and unable to focus or function like normal. It also affects your reaction time and basic movements, which is why you might find it harder to grip things or stay balanced. This is due to sleep deprivation or bad quality sleep negatively impacting your motor skills. According to Dr Chris Winter speaking to Health.com (opens in new tab), “when you’re tired, there’s a lapse in how you neurologically function in general. When sleep-deprived, you can’t process particularly well.”
4. You’re constipated
Another strange sign of poor sleep is constipation. As the main parts of your brain that controls your neurological and bodily functions are affected by bad quality sleep, this creates a knock on effect that impacts all the other parts of your brain and body. According to Dr Raj, “this includes the intestines which means irregular bowels and human plumbing issues.” If you’re feeling a little stuffed up or you’re having stomach issues, poor sleep quality could be what’s causing it.
5. You’re having sight problems
According to eye doctors and vision specialists, poor sleep can affect your eyesight. This is due to your tiredness affecting the ability to control your eye muscles. In the same article from Health.com, a lack of sleep “tires out the ciliary and ocular muscles” which makes it harder to focus and move your eyes up and down and side to side. Essentially, your eye muscles are too tired to concentrate and this can cause vision problems, like misalignment or double vision.
If you’re experiencing any of these strange signs, it’s time to make your sleep more of a priority. For sleep tips that can help you sleep better or fall asleep quicker, try these 3 sleep podcasts (opens in new tab) or this 30 second sleep hack (opens in new tab) recommended by sleep psychologists.