For many of us, sleep is like a bad high-school boyfriend: He shows up just enough to keep the relationship going, but he usually can't be found when you need him most. According to a 2014 survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affects their daily lives at least once a week. That's a lot of bad boyfriends.
Sleep deprivation (aka short sleep duration, which is defined as getting less than seven hours of zzzs per night) is linked to many serious health problems, including being at increased risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, frequent mental distress, and even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Then there are the more obvious and immediate problems, including mood and performance issues. And don't even get us started on the under-eye bags.
Even if you think you get plenty of high-quality sleep, it's still possible you're not getting the sleep you need and just don't know the signs. The good news? You can begin to turn your chronic sleep issues around within a matter of days, says Michael J. Breus, PhD (aka The Sleep Doctor), clinical psychologist, clinical advisory board member of The Dr. Oz Show, and author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health.
"If you start going to bed at a consistent bedtime for seven to 10 days, you will begin to make up for some of that lost sleep and be on a better path," says Dr. Breus, who (with the assistance of a few sleepy sloths) shares some of the not-so-obvious signs that your body is craving more shut-eye below: