In this blog we will discuss the topic of sleep deprivation. We will start by looking at its causes, and then look at its effects. Further, we will discuss ways to ensure that you aren’t sleep deprived, a.k.a sleep hygiene.
Sleep deprivation meme
10 hilarious sleep deprivation memes from around the internet
- What is sleep?
- The struggle!
- A new level unlocked!
- Coffee please!
- Blood, sweat, tears, and sleep!
- We know it doesn’t happen..
- Need a nap, ASAP!
What is sleep deprivation?
It occurs when a person is not getting enough of good quality sleep. Sleep deprivation is usually accompanied by other illnesses and/ or life circumstances. It can however cause its own symptoms and health outcomes. Due to this lack of quality or quantity of sleep they may experience a range of symptoms, like:
- Difficulty sustaining attention
- Memory problems
- Inability to focus
- Mood swings
- A reduced libido
Sleep deprivation is becoming increasingly common. In fact, it is estimated that half of all people older than 65 have frequent sleeping problems.
Its causes can range from:
- Sleep related disorders:
Some of the sleep related disorders as given in DSM 5 (APA, 2013) include insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or restless leg syndrome. These are mental illnesses related to sleep that cause an individual to be sleep deprived.
In insomnia, a person is unable to sleep. In sleep apnea, a person’s respiratory airways may get blocked while they are asleep.
Restless leg syndrome refers to an uncomfortable sensation felt in the legs during the time the person is trying to fall asleep, leading to their inability at falling asleep.
Age related inability to sleep, or decrease in the number of hours they are able to sleep, or the quality of sleep that they experience are very common. People older than 65 have trouble sleeping because of normal aging, their medical conditions, or the kind of medicines that they may be taking.
They may end up suffering from initial, middle, or late insomnia due to the same.
- Other mental illness:
Sleep deprivation is common in other mental disorders like depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or anxiety related disorders.
- Other illnesses:
These could be chronic pain diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart diseases, stroke, etc.
If a person is experiencing stress or some major life changing events, they may start to experience sleep related issues leading to sleep deprivation.
- Other factors:
These could include changes in schedule, which could be due to a new job, moving to a new place, having a baby, or increase in the number of responsibilities or duties a person has. All of these could lead to sleep deprivation.
- Technological advances:
Our lifestyle often involves looking at some or the other screen before bed, like TV, mobile, tab or laptop. This trains the brain to stay awake as it keeps getting light from these screens, leading to poor sleep cycle, and ultimately sleep deprivation.
Symptoms of sleep deprivation:
While sleep deprivation may be caused by other disturbances, in the long run it can also cause other minor symptoms. Over time, these symptoms end up becoming more serious.
Let us first look at the initial symptoms of sleep deprivation:
- Fatigue or drowsiness throughout the day
- Inability to pay attention
- Decreased memory
- Reduced physical energy and strength
- Diminished immunity
The long term, more serious, symptoms look like:
- Increased risk for mental illnesses like anxiety, psychotic episode, delirium, depression
- Increased risk for heart disease, stroke, etc.
- Potentially life threatening risks like accidents at hazardous work, or car accidents.
- Severe mood changes
Effects of sleep deprivation
- Type 2 diabetes
Lack of sleep affects the body’s release of insulin, which is a glucose metabolising hormone. Thus, people who get lack of sleep have high blood sugar levels, and are at risk for type 2 diabetes.
It has also been proved that habitual sleep deprivation leads to impaired glucose tolerance which is also known as prediabetes. It is a condition where the blood sugar level is elevated, but not enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
- Poor attention and memory
Lack of sleep reduces a person’s ability to concentrate, be creative, or pay attention to what’s going on fully. Further, When We sleep our brain forms connections that help us process and remember new information to stop a lack of sleep can negatively impact both short-term as well as long term memory.
- Weight gain
Several not studies show that one of the leading causes of high obesity in the United States might be the average number of hours that people are keeping. it goes to show that sleep deprivation might be causing an imbalance in the hormones that regulate glucose metabolism and appetite, thus, leading to weight gain.
This association between sleep deprivation and obesity appears to be the strongest in young and middle-aged adults.
- Weakened immune system
Too little sleep weakens your body’s immunity’s defence against viruses like those that cause the common cold and flu. does it make you more likely to get sick when you are exposed to germs and that becomes more likely to happen when you do not get enough sleep.
- Mood changes
There is nothing surprising about the fact that sleep deprivation can make you moody, emotional and short tempered. When this sleep deprivation becomes chronic it can affect your mood and lead to mental illnesses like in reality or depression which may end up escalating.
- High blood pressure
Your risk for high blood pressure and increasing if you sleep less than 5 hours per night for the sleep deprivation may also lead to increased risk of heart disease as with increase in blood pressure and higher levels of chemicals linked to inflammation are both linked to risk for heart disease.
- Risk of Accidents
As we discussed, blood relation leads to a lack of ability to pay attention or be able to concentrate. put you at a higher risk for accidents which can happen in hazardous situations like working in a factory, driving, for anything that requires your full attention Like even crossing a busy road.
This dress is also increased due to the phenomena of microsleep. They occur when a person has a significant sleep deprivation and last for from a few seconds to minutes when a person is trying to please stay asleep but are feeling sleepy, they may fall into a microsleep, especially if they are doing a monotonous task. This may also increase their likelihood of getting in an accident.
- Poor balance
Lack of sleep can also affect your balance by making your coordination poorer. This makes you more prone to falling as well as other accidents that require coordination.
- Decreased libido
Sleep deprivation can also lead to lack of sexual energy or drive. This sexual drive is known as libido. An explanation for this low sex drive could be a decrease in the level of testosterone in the body in response to lack of sleep.
- Lack of ability to think
Sleeplessness aur sleep deprivation also affects a person’s ability to think. Their problem solving and decision making skills get significantly reduced if they are not getting enough, such that it will take them longer than usual to make simple decisions and they will not be able to critically think in order to solve even simple problems.
Sleep deprivation negatively affects your nervous system, cardiovascular system, immune system functioning, Digestive system as well as the endocrine system.
Sleep hygiene & other treatments
One way to deal with this lack of sleep, sleeplessness or sleep deprivation is by maintaining proper sleep hygiene. discussed as follows a sum of the tips to be able to get better sleep:
- Try to make a routine of going to bed and waking up on a certain time and stickk to it.
- Avoiding eating, or drinking caffeinated beverages 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Stay active during the day
- If you aren’t able to fall asleep for 20 minutes, quit trying and engage in some other activity ike reading
- Avoid using screens at least 1 hour before bed
- Sleep in a dark or very dimly lit room
- Don’t use your bed for activities other than sleeping
- Maintain a comfortable room temperature
- Put distracting things out of your bedroom
- Even if you didn’t get much sleep during the night, avoid sleeping during the day
Behavioural and Cognitive treatments:
- Relaxation techniques like meditation, mindfulness training, guided imagery or breathing exercises to help reduce tension.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy may help in identifying a thought pattern that are leading to lack of sleep
Use of medications like sedatives, hypnotics or those that promote melatonin production. Relaxation techniques like body massage, yoga for sleep, aromatherapy might help. Drinking chamomile tea, as well as using lavender scents might also be helpful.
In this blog we discussed sleep deprivation by looking at its causes, long and short term symptoms, ill effects, and ways to treat or manage it.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Sleep Deprivation
How many hours of sleep is sleep deprivation?
The average amount of sleep required by adults is 7-9 hours. If the amount of sleep is significantly lower than this, it can be termed as sleep deprivation. Further, if the quantity is enough but quality of sleep isn’t, it can also be considered sleep deprivation.
How to fix sleep deprivation?
Some tips that may help include: keeping a regular sleep cycle, avoiding caffeine 2-3 hours before bed, sleeping in a dark and comfortable room, staying active throughout the day, and trying not to nap throughout the day.
Can’t sleep even though sleep deprived?
Sleep disorders might be contributing to your inability to sleep despite being sleep deprived.. Some of these may be insomnia, restless leg syndrome, or sleep apnea.
What are the causes of sleep deprivation?
Causes may range from sleep disorders, aging, other mental illness, physical pain, etc.
What happens to your body when you are sleep deprived?
Your body’s systems can be harmed, like the nervous system, endocrine system, digestive system, immune system functioning etc.
Is sleep deprivation a disorder?
It is not a specific disorder in itself. However, it may lead to other disorder, or be caused by sleep related or other disorders.
. Stoppler M.C., (n.d.) Hallucinations: symptoms and signs. MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/hallucinations/symptoms.htm