Sleep Deprivation and its Adverse Effects
Occasional interrupted sleep is no cause for alarm. It’s nothing more than just a nuisance when in isolation and is an inconvenience that happens from time to time. Take for example the time not long ago when you are woken by the sound of dogs barking or a car alarm blaring outside.
Yet there is a good number of people out there who tend to lack the ability to get adequate sleep at night. What this essentially means is that at the end of the day, their body and mind doesn’t really get the rest it needs in order to function effectively.
After a long day at work or school, we all crave for a good night’s sleep in order to relax both our body and mind. However, this is not always the case for certain people. At times you may find yourself staying up all hours of the night tossing and turning in your bed. When this happens with regularity, then the chances are that sleep deprivation may be affecting the quality of your life and perhaps even the life of your partner.
And as we all know, sleep deprivation leads to a moody, cranky and tired outlook the following day. Sleep deprivation can cost you in the long run because it can damage your sex life, physical appearance, health, memory as well as the ability to lose weight among many other things.
It is a widely accepted fact that good rest helps in the proper functioning of your body and mind. Think about it, what happens if the body and mind are deprived of sleep for an extended period of time? We will aim to outline such effects in this article, and discuss why you should be aiming to get the recommended amount of sleep every night. What are the consequences for those who continually neglect to get the required sleep needed and what causes sleep deprivation to develop to begin with? Well let’s find out!
What is Sleep Deprivation?
Well, in case you are wondering, sleep deprivation is a general term that is used to refer to the state when someone doesn’t get enough sleep effecting their ability to function at a desired level. This encompasses voluntary or even involuntary sleeplessness. In rarer cases it could be a Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder that is at play leading to the disruption of a person’s sleep.
Common Causes of Sleep Deprivation
The causes of sleep deprivation tend to vary from one person to another. This is because there are various factors that may cause sleep deprivation in one person that may not have a detrimental impact on another person.
Depression and anxiety are the major causes of sleep deprivation in very many instances but besides that, there are some other common causes too. If you are curious to see the other causes then here are some of those that are more relevant.
1. Poor Sleep Hygiene
If you like reading a lot about sleep and sleep disorders, we bet you have already come across this a couple of times previously. Yes, poor sleep hygiene is one of the major reasons why you might be having sleep deprivation trouble. This is because some habits like smoking and drinking coffee and alcohol just before bedtime cause disruption in the body.
When you consume these items they tend to stimulate your nervous system and at the end of the day, you will be far less likely fall asleep at the right time as a result. Also, if all you do is lay in bed and worry about your life instead of focussing on relaxing, then this might also be a reason why you are having sleep deprivation issues.
Well, this might not be an issue to everyone who is on medication but some of the drugs used to treat disorders such as ADHD-attention deficit hyperactive disorder can cause sleep deprivation at night in some people. If you are on this type of medication and are having trouble sleeping, then a talk with a suitably qualified person may be in order to find a resolution that works to improve your sleep outlook in a safe way.
3. Bad Personal Choices
Most people don’t realize how much damage sleep deprivation could cause to their quality of life. Therefore, instead of going to bed at a reasonable time, some people instead choose to stay up late at night, quite often lying in bed on social media platforms, watching television series or reading novels long into the night.
4. Irregular Work Schedule
In some cases, a person’s job may require them to work night shifts. This sometimes leads to them disrupting their sleep cycles to such an extent that their body’s natural rhythm is thrown out of kilter. And that is why irregular work schedules can have a large part to play in sleep deprivation to certain extent. Humans are generally hardwired to sleep at night and be active during the day. Whereas animals like owls and cats are nocturnal nigh time creatures by their very nature.
People who are frequent travelers to different continents are also more likely to have erratic sleeping patterns by the very nature of their travel. Here again such people are also more prone to sleep deprivation that other people who have a regular sleep pattern.
5. Poor Sleeping Environment
Sleep deprivation may also be a result of environmental conditions. For instance, if the bedroom is too hot or too cold or you have a snoring bed partner, chances are you will be more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation as a knock on effect.
6. Having Your Meals Too Late
Most people are skeptical about this one but when you eat too late at night, you may also suffer from sleep deprivation more often. That is because you may suffer from bloating, indigestion, discomfort as well as any other physical attributes that can keep you awake during the night long after the meal has been eaten. The acid from indigestion may also in some cases lead to some chronic breathing problems developing and a general sense of unease and disturbance.
Other Causes of Sleep Deprivation
- Illness such as colds and tonsillitis
- Babies who need frequent check-ups at night
- Staring at digital devices with blue light screens
So with the common causes of sleep deprivation listed lets move on to how sleep deprivation can impact on a persons life if left unchecked.
Adverse Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Just like any other essential thing the body needs such as food and air, it also requires adequate nightly sleep to function properly. This is because, as you sleep your body tends to restore its chemical balance and heal itself. During this time, the brain finds a way to forge new connections and retain the memories you have developed.
And that is why without enough sleep, the body systems and the brain generally will not function normally. In the long term, this will lower the quality of your life bit by bit incrementally. Actually, during a related study on the same, it was discovered that when you sleep for less than 8 hours you are at a higher risk of early death.
Listed below are some of the other adverse effects of sleep deprivation for many people;
1. Higher Risk of Accidents
In recent history, the lack of enough sleep has proven to be one of the major causes of fatal accidents across the world. And for that reason, sleep deprivation has become a big road safety hazard to most people. As much as drunk driving, drowsiness when driving is very likely to lead to serious accidents occurring. This is a problem that is affecting many people below the age of twenty five.
In other cases, sleep deprivation leads to more injuries and unexpected accidents while at work. Actually, a study conducted on the same showed that excessive sleepiness during the day is accountable for most of the accidents caused on work sites.
2. Leads to Serious Health Problems
If you are suffering from sleep deprivation, this is not one of those issues that you should ignore. Sleep deprivation is a serious sleep disorder that could take a big toll on your overall health and wellbeing if you are not careful enough to address it.
Some of the health problems related to poor sleep include; stroke, diabetes, heart failure, heart attack, heart disease, irregular heartbeat among other issues. In one particular study conducted on this, it was discovered that about 90% of people who suffer from sleep deprivation also develop another health complication over time.
3. Lower Sex Drive
Believe it or not, sleep specialists have recorded that a large portion of men, as well as women who suffer from sleep deprivation, have a lower libido and sex drive than those who get enough nightly sleep. This is because sleeplessness leads to depletion of energy levels, as well as increased tension and irritability.
This issue also affects most of the men who suffer from the condition of sleep apnea. For that reason, sleep deprivation could be the downfall of many relationships as it tends to affect the sex life of many couples. In a study, a sleep specialist proved that men who have sleep disorders produce a lower level of testosterone during the night than those without such issues.
4. Depression and Anxiety
In the long term, sleep deprivation may lead to some more complicated issues. For instance, sleeplessness may contribute in a strong way to depression and anxiety when you sleep for less than the required time per night. In certain cases, many insomnia patients tend to associate their sleep disorder with depression.
It would appear that sleep deprivation, and depression always seem to feed into each other. When you lose out on sleep, you are often likely to aggravate the symptoms of depression. On the other hand, depression makes it more difficult to get sleep for certain people. In that way, when you treat the sleep disorder you may also help with the symptoms and effects of depression too.
5. Damage Of Your Physical Appearance
After missing out on enough sleep for just a few nights, you will most likely realise you have puffy eyes and sallow skin. But besides that, it is believed that when you have sleep deprivation your skin may also lack luster, have dark circles under the eyes as well as the formation of fine lines. This is because when you don’t get enough sleep the body tends to release a stress hormone known as cortisol.
And when released in excess amounts, cortisol tends to break down the skin protein known as collagen that is responsible for keeping the skin elastic and smooth. The body will release less of the repair growth hormones too when sleep deprived. Ok so you think you are already a grown man or woman and you no longer need the growth hormone. Right?
However, this growth hormone, especially as we start to age helps to thicken the skin, increase the mass of our muscles and also strengthen the bones of our bodies. It also helps to patch up the wear and tear that occurs to the body during the exertions of the day.
6. Loss of Memory
In any case, if you are trying to ensure that your memory remains sharp, ensure that you get enough sleep on a nightly basis. Otherwise, the brain events known as the sharp wave ripples might not do their work fully. These waves help to consolidate the memory but when you don’t get enough sleep it gets a little harder for them to do that.
Besides, these ripples also transfer the learned knowledge to the neocortex of the brain. Here the long-term memories are stored. And one more thing, these ripples mostly occur and operate when you are in the deepest session of sleep. This is the reason why people who have sleep deprivation often have memory issues.
7. Impaired Judgment
When you don’t experience enough sleep on a nightly basis, this tends to affect your ability to make sound judgments. This is because it becomes hard to assess the current and past situations critically and accurately before acting on them. In simple terms, sleep deprivation affects how we interpret events.
And that is why sleep-deprived people have a higher risk of judging things poorly. Most people especially younger people who spend sleepless nights awake always think that less sleep is a sort of badge of honor. However, sleep specialists have criticized this act and have encouraged people especially those who are required to make judgments to have enough sleep. Most people today will sleep for 6 hours or less but when you gauge the quality of their life, it has a downhill graph. This shows just how harmful what these people are doing really is.
This may seem a little farfetched but, trust us sleep deprivation is can be a major cause of excessive weight gain for many people. In case you are wondering how this is so well here’s how it happens. When you lack sleep your body will most likely have increased hunger and a higher appetite and if not kept in check, this can develop through habit into an obesity problem.
In a related study, it was discovered that people who sleep for less than 6 hours have more likelihood of becoming obese then when compared to other individuals who sleep at least 7-9 hours per day. The worst of it is that sleep deprivation will not only increase your appetite but it will also stimulate cravings especially for high-fat, high sugar, high-carb foods.
Other adverse effects of sleep deprivation include
- A higher death risk (as is the case in japan from overwork)
- Impaired alertness, attention, reasoning, and concentration
Hopefully now the full importance of obtaining the correct sleep targets are becoming obvious so let’s begin to wrap up this article for now.
So in summary it has become clear that sleep deprivation is a sleep disorder that should be addressed and treated in good time before any further health complication develop. There are a few home management procedures like the ones listed above that you can consider addressing in order to improve your sleep outlook. However if you feel you need to talk to someone about your issues then please do ensure that you make an appointment with a sleep specialist or someone you feel will be able to listen and help address your sleep problem before it develops into something more damaging.
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