The science behind the benefits of sleep — for our mood, our performance, or our overall well-being — continues to mount, and one constant thread persists: Most of us need more sleep. Research shows one in three adults suffers from lack of sleep on a daily basis, and yet, so many of us are ignoring our bodies’ signs that tell us we need to rest. But when we pause and pay attention to those signs, it makes us listen and allow ourselves to reset, recharge, and feel our best.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the small ways their bodies signal to them that they need more sleep. Which of these signs resonates with you?

You feel sluggish and irritable

“With the state of uncertainty surrounding the world right now, getting enough sleep is vital if not critical. I listen to my body and what it tells me daily. I know I need more or better sleep when I hit ‘snooze’ more than once, and when I’m feeling sluggish at the gym or irritable during the day.”

—Joshua Miller, master certified executive coach, Austin, TX

Daily tasks feel harder

“When my body needs more sleep, my workouts get tougher, and it’s harder to remember basic things like drinking water. I also find myself struggling to remember to eat well and it to even make a to-do list. Essentially, things that used to come easily to me suddenly get harder when I need more sleep.”

—Karisa Karmali, fitness trainer, Ontario, Canada

You’re more pessimistic

“I know I need more sleep when I start to creep into ‘glass half empty mode’. I have a very positive outlook generally. Years of gratitude practice has rewired my brain to look for the happiness in life, but when I’m tired, all the negative emotions begin to creep in: self doubt, worry, a general underlying feeling of anxiety, and belief that ‘I’m doing life wrong’. I’m fortunate enough to recognize it now, and lucky that I’m able to sleep pretty much anywhere. So if I can grab a nap, I will. It’s incredible to me how even a lost hour or two can have such a negative impact on my state of mind.”

—Audrey Mason, happiness coach, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Your digestion is off

“My stomach will let me know when I am not getting enough sleep. It will just be off until I get the sleep I need.”

—Marc LeBlanc, engineering manager, Ottawa, ON, Canada 

Your mind is scattered

“When I haven’t had a restful sleep or enough hours of sleep, I wake up with a busy mind. When I am in my regular routine of good sleep hygiene, I wake up calm and feel like my mind is a blank slate ready to ease into the day. On the days when I haven’t given myself the gift of proper sleep, my busy mind generally spirals, leading to feeling physically anxious and emotionally reactive throughout the day. Lack of sleep and an overactive mind is uncomfortable enough that I’ve made it a habit to stick to my bedtime routine as much as possible.”

—Emily Madill, author and certified professional coach (ACC), Nanaimo, B.C., Canada

You’re extra achy

“I know my body needs serious rest when I start to feel full-body fatigue and aches, that no amount of coffee can fix. When I start feeling this way, I try to find time for a nap during the day and go to bed early for the next few nights.” 

—HF, health coach, Los Angeles, CA

You’re craving carbs

“I’ve come to recognize that the hunger I sometimes sense in the middle of the day is not real hunger but sleepiness. I feel what seems to be a void in my stomach, and I start to think about food, namely carb-rich foods like bread, potatoes, or pasta. So I ask myself, if I am really hungry or if what my body’s asking me for is a nap. After reading a lot about emotions, the brain, and the body, I’ve learned that when the body needs to restore energy, it gives out the same signal, whether it is for calories or for rest.”

—Carolina Perez Sanz, PhD, co-active and relationship systems coach, Miami Beach, FL

Your eyelids feel heavy

“The body doesn’t lie. I always know when I am in dire need of more sleep as my eyelids feel as heavy as lead and actually start to close. I believe this is my body’s way of creating forced shuteye. This physical alert ensures I integrate Microsteps towards better sleep.”

—Candice Tomlinson, coach and hypnotherapist, Sydney, Australia

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Author(s)

  • Rebecca Muller

    Senior Editor and Community Manager

    Thrive

    Rebecca Muller Feintuch is the Senior Editor and Community Manager at Thrive. Her previous work experience includes roles in editorial and digital journalism. Rebecca is passionate about storytelling, creating meaningful connections, and prioritizing mental health and self-care. She is a graduate of New York University, where she studied Media, Culture and Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. For her undergraduate thesis, she researched the relationship between women and fitness media consumerism.