Sleep Deprivation and health

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What is Sleep Deprivation?

Ever spent the night tossing and turning? You know you will end up feeling tired and cranky the next day. Different people require different amounts of sleep. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that an average of 7 hours of sleep is required. It is estimated that about one-third of adults in the U.S. alone don’t get enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation is a consistent lack of sleep or a decrease in the quality of sleep. Though not a specific disease, it is usually caused by illness or various life circumstances. Not getting an average of 7 hours of regular sleep can lead to health issues that affect your body.

Symptoms

The most noticeable symptoms of sleep deprivation include

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Increased drowsiness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Reduced physical strength
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Impaired memory

If sleep deprivation is ignored for long, it can lead to more severe symptoms like hallucinations, severe mood swings, and increased risk of depression.

Causes

Sleep deprivation can be caused due to illness or lifestyle. It could also be various factors affecting the quality of your sleep.

Reasons for sleep deprivation may include waking often during the night, working in shifts, stress due to deadlines, a noisy sleeping environment, an environment that is too hot or cold, using technology like phones before bedtime, an uncomfortable bed, family demands, staying up beyond the correct bedtime, or waking early.

A lot of health issues also cause sleep deprivation or disrupt sleep. A few such issues are Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Pain, Anxiety, Depression, Obesity, Bruxism (grinding teeth), Substance abuse, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

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Impact on Health

Sleep deprivation affects various parts of the body. Not only does it leaving us feeling exhausted, but it also affects various aspects of our health.

Immune System: It can lead to lesser resistance to infections and longer recovery time.

Weight: Sleep deprivation can cause hormonal imbalances. It can also cause insulin resistance, weight gain, and risk of type 2 diabetes.

Brain: Sleep deprivation affects the normal function of the brain, leading to mood disturbances. It also affects the brain’s cognitive function. This leads to reduced short-term memory, reduced capability of problem-solving, increased anxiety, and depression. Severe, long-term disruptions in sleep may also cause hallucinations and paranoia. It also increases the risk of accidents.

Hormones: Lack of sleep affects the production of hormones. It also leads to the additional release of stress hormones.

Heart: Our body needs it sleep to rebuild heart vessels. Sleep also helps in the processes that regulate blood pressure and sugar levels. Lack of sleep may increase the chances of heart disease.

Prevention

Sufficient sleep, an average of about 7 hours, goes a long way in reducing the risk of various health issues. A few ways in which you can ensure sufficient sleep are mentioned below.

  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly, especially during the day.
  • Avoid using electronics right before going to sleep. Try keeping them away from the sleeping area.
  • Avoid meals, especially heavy food, closer to bedtime.
  • Keep the bedroom dark and quiet.
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Taking care of small factors like these, or getting medical help when required, will help us to deal with sleep deprivation in the long run.

Originally posted 2020-08-10 07:42:21.