That’s a question all women should be asking themselves. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Mom of three, or someone who is trying to juggle a career and a home. Most of us are so busy these days; we are too busy to get the rest we really need.

What is sleep deprivation?

Simply said, it refers to just not getting enough sleep. On average, enough is around 7-8 hours every night. However, this can vary from one to another. For some, "enough sleep" means at least nine hours, for others, it may just mean six hours of sleep.

How do you know whether you are getting enough sleep?

Answer these questions and find out whether you are sleep deprived or are suffering from a sleep disorder.

• Do you feel drowsy during the daytime?

• Are you frequently feeling exhausted?

• Do you find it hard to focus on the activity at hand?

• Do you experience low levels of energy?

• Do you feel you are less active while performing your daily activities than you should be?

• Are you constantly stressed out and tense?

• Are you snapping at everything and everyone?

• Do you experience short episodes of what are called "micro-sleeps", (short bursts of sleep that occur during the day) that you may not even be aware of?

• Are you constantly drinking cup after cup of coffee to keep yourself awake?

If you answered "Yes" to all or most of these questions, chances are, you are sleep deprived.

Why should I be concerned about sleep deprivation?

Lost sleep is quite serious. While you are sleeping, your body, and particularly your brain, is regenerating itself so that it can function optimally. When you don't get enough sleep, the neurons in your brain will begin to malfunction and negatively affect your behavior. This means that you are more prone to injuries and accidents, especially while driving.

Since sleep deprivation affects your cognitive abilities, you will find it difficult to think and understand what's going on around you. You will need to use all your energy to get through the day, and won’t have much left for anything else. This is when cravings can become intense, because your body is desperate to get the energy it needs to function. Unfortunately, quick sugar “fixes” only serves to spike your blood sugar and further deplete and exhaust you after the initial burst of energy it provides. Your creativity will be low, and you will have some trouble remembering things.

With poor energy levels, your work performance will be affected and as well as your relationships. Irritability, anger and depression are common in people who just don't get enough sleep.

Long-term sleep loss can actually lead to some serious diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. However, to some of us, it may seem like the worst news of all is that not getting enough sleep makes you fatter, because stress increases cortisol—which increases bellyfat!

I am sleep deprived. What should I do?

Well, the answer is simple. Get your seven to eight hours of sleep every night possible. That is easier said than done. You may find that you have picked up some habits which may actually be affecting your sleep. For example, you may be in the habit of drinking too much alcohol or caffeine. Both of these things will interfere with your sleep and quality of your sleep. Make sure you eat a good breakfast to give you energy for your day.

If you are up late catching up on your work or chores, be aware that proper rest will make you faster and more efficient at completing these tasks. If you are watching TV, exercising, or eating immediately before you go to bed, it will be more challenging to get a good night’s sleep. Instead, try to incorporate activities that relax your body and mind, such as enjoying a soak in your bath…or listening to some peaceful and slow music.

Also, follow a sleep routine. Decide on a regular time to go to sleep at night, and try to stick to within an hour of that time.

In Tim Ferris’s book, The Four Minute Body, he refers to Bi-Phasic sleep studies showing that if you can’t sleep more than 5 hours, a 20 minute nap will get you the REM sleep you need.

A little time spent asking yourself what may be interfering with your sleep is worth it. Just a little change here and there may do the trick, and help you become a happier, slimmer, healthier and more productive person.

Author's Bio: 

Gayle Morris, MS, CHC, EBTP & Eve Fogler, MES, CHC, EBTP are Cravings Coaches and Wellness Speakers who use your cravings and brain chemistry as a doorway to solving emotional eating, mindless eating, and stress eating issues. You can end roller-coaster dieting forever with this step-by-step, supportive approach. Get a high dose of inspiration and fun! Gayle and Eve co-founded