Much can be said about a good night´s sleep not only does it leave you feeling refreshed and alert, but it allows you to attack your day. It plays a vital role in good health and should not be underestimated.
A good night´s sleep constitutes 7-9 hours per day for adults. (Preschool children need 10-13 hours and school-age children 9-11 hours).
Sleep is vital for brain function and systemic physiology in many body functions. This post takes a deeper look at sleep deprivation’s effects on health.
What is sleep deprivation?
Sleep deprivation effects
Sleep deprivation refers to getting an inadequate amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to many health problems such as:
- may increase forgetfulness
- may reduce the ability to fight off infections (compromised immune system)
- may increase the risk of acquiring illnesses (cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity)
- may increase the risk of mood swings
- may increase the risk of depression
Many adults and even some children have experienced some form of sleep disorder. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is becoming more and more common because many people sacrifice sleep to be more productive.
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), 30-70 million US adults have a sleep disorder. 35.2% of adults report sleeping less than 7 hours. Hawaii has the highest percentage of sleep disorders at 43%.
Symptoms of sleep deprivation
- frequent yawning
- tendency to doze off when inactive
- feeling tired upon waking up in the morning
- feeling drowsy all-day
- poor concentration
- mood changes (irritable)
- reduces physical strength
Types of Sleep Disorders
Is the inability to fall or stay asleep and is the most common sleep disorder affecting 50% of the US adult population (women are at higher risk).
- Transient- lasts for just a few nights at a time.
- Intermittent- occurs periodically
- Chronic- occurs regularly.
Can cause pauses in breathing during sleeping. Sleep apnea classifies as a serious medical condition that causes the body to take in less oxygen. It´s not uncommon to wake up during the night.
OSA-Obstructive Sleep Apnea- the flow of air stops while asleep because the airway space is obstructed or too narrow.
Central Sleep Apnea relates to a problem in the connection between the brain and the muscles that control your breath. (Sleep apnea affects more men than women).
A class of sleep disorders that can cause abnormal movements or behaviors during sleep such as sleepwalking (which affects more children 5% than adults 1.5%), sleep-talking, groaning nightmares, bed-wetting, teeth grinding/jaw clenching, etc.
RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome)
RLS is an overwhelming need to move the leg mostly associated with certain health (neurological) conditions such as ADHD and Parkinson´s disease.
A condition that often causes someone to suddenly fall asleep during the day no matter what they are doing (sleep attacks).
Causes of sleep disorder
Many causes come from a lifestyle, environmental, and health issues/medical conditions such as stress, hectic schedules, jet lag, hormones, and underlying health issues such as gastrointestinal issues like SIBO, IBS, depression, etc.
Please do not underestimate a good night´s rest. A lack of sleep can harm energy, mood, concentration, and overall health. In some cases, sleep disorders can be a symptom of other mental health conditions. It can affect the pituitary glands, can have metabolic effects, and can affect pro-inflammatory responses.
- Short-term consequences: It can reduce the quality of life and cause emotional distress and mood disorders.
- Long-term consequences: Can include the following: hypertension, dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular disease, and can worsen the severity of common gastrointestinal disorders. Also, 20% of car accidents are due to driver sleepiness.
Do you snore loudly or heavily while asleep regularly?
Are you sleepy or tired most of the time during the daytime (or have a lack of energy)?
Do you regularly have trouble falling or staying asleep during the night?
Do you experience frequent sleepwalking, nightmares, or night terrors?
If you answered yes to all the above questions and experienced these symptoms regularly, you may have a sleeping disorder. Please seek medical advice from your primary physician to see if you have a sleeping disorder.
Some solutions to solving sleeping disorders
- –reduce stress and anxiety by exercising, meditating, journaling, etc.
- -create and stick to a regular sleep schedule
- -drink fewer fluids before bedtime
- -eat smaller low carbohydrates meal before bedtime
- -eat more vegetables and fish and reduce sugar intake
- -wind down 30 minutes before bedtime by doing something relaxing such as taking a bath, listening to soft music, or reading
(Please be sure to speak to your primary physician if you believe you may have a sleeping disorder to find the right treatment for you).
- -melatonin supplements
- -medications for any underlying health issues
- -a dental guard (for teeth grinding)
- -sleeping pills such as Zolpidem, Zaleplon, Suvorexant, Gabapentin, Modafinil, etc.
Two full nights of sleep deprivation or four partial nights of sleep deprivation is enough to compromise your immune system
13% of people who sleep fewer than 6 hours a night can have a higher risk of premature death.
More than 33% of Americans don´t get enough sleep.
The Southeastern United States has the most widespread sleep deprivation.
Single, divorced, and widowed individuals are more likely to get less sleep than married people.
Sleep-deprived people are 70% more likely to have a car accident.
20% of all serious car accidents involve a sleep-deprived driver.
Each year approximately 8,000 car accident deaths are due to sleepy drivers in the US.
Over 15% of people who are diagnosed with insomnia experience depression.
People who suffer from insomnia are twenty times more likely to develop panic disorders.
Inadequate sleep increases the risk that someone will be uncivil in the workplace.
The World record for a person going without sleep is 266 hours, an equivalent of 11 days. Research has shown that going for long periods without sleep can be deadly. An experiment was conducted on rats that died after 32 days of no sleep.
In 2012 a fan in China died of exhaustion after staying up for 11 full nights to watch every game in the European 2012 Championship.
It was determined, in his case, that sleep deprivation alone didn´t kill him, but that other factors were involved and that it certainly didn´t help.
Sleep deprivation is not as harmless as first thought with such damaging health effects; it isn´t wise to sacrifice sleep first; prioritize your tasks instead. Be in-tuned with yourself so that when your body sends you signals, you are alert and can find medical help if you need it.
How about you? Are you depriving yourself of sleep?
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*This article is for informational purposes only and not intended as a diagnosis. Please find a reliable and trusted primary care physician, so that you can have an open dialog about your health concerns and treatment plans.