According to the National Institutes of Health, 7-19% of adults reportedly do not get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can affect our everyday functions and our overall wellbeing from how we think to how we feel. Just one night with not enough rest can cause someone to feel drowsy throughout the entire day with a lack of energy and an irritable mood.
Sleep deprivation that lasts longer than just one day can have significant consequences and can worsen many major health conditions. It can be a short-term issue that occurs for one or a few nights or it can be a chronic concern that lasts weeks or even months. Overall, sleep deprivation is when you are not sleeping enough or are not getting good, quality sleep; however, not getting enough quality sleep and still waking up feeling tired is also a form of sleep deprivation.
Actually, there is no group of people that is more susceptible to sleep deprivation than others. Sleep deprivation can happen to anyone at any point in their life. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep, but with our busy and hectic lives that can be difficult to achieve every night.
At health, we recognize the importance of Sleep as one of the four pillars of overall health and wellbeing. Finding balance in your bedtime routine is important for your sleep hygiene, and recognising the signs of sleep deprivation early on can significantly contribute to good health hygiene. We have broken down all aspects of sleep deprivation from symptoms to causes to treatments for sleep deprivation.
The signs and effects of sleep deprivation
Not getting the standard 7-9 hours of sleep every night is common with our busy schedules, but too much lack of sleep can cause significant health concerns in the long-term.
Here are some common symptoms of sleep deprivation:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Trouble thinking, focusing and remembering
- Slowed reaction times
There are, however, more severe symptoms that occur with prolonged sleep deprivation:
- Uncontrollable eye movements
- Trouble speaking clearly
- Drooping eyelids
- Hand tremors
- Visual and tactile hallucinations
- Impaired judgment
- Impulsive or even reckless behavior
Not only can sleep deprivation affect your everyday behavior, but it can affect the systems, organs and processes in your body on a biological level. Inadequate attention to the effects of sleep deprivation can affect the following systems in the body:
- Heart and circulatory systems
- Metabolic systems
- Immune system
- Nervous system
- Mental health
Additionally, those with preexisting health conditions can experience worsening symptoms due to sleep deprivation. These conditions can also arise due to sleep deprivation as well. These conditions include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Vascular disease
- Heart attack
- Conditions that involve psychosis
Overall, there are many signs and effects of sleep deprivation that can affect your everyday life and health. While it is common to not get a perfect 7-9 hours of sleep from time to time, knowing these symptoms can help you determine whether or not your lack of sleep is an irregular occurrence or should be an actual concern.
What causes sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation can be caused from both life circumstances to actual medical reasons. While our schedules can be busy and hectic, it is important to recognize which aspects of our everyday lives can cause sleep deprivation. These causes that occur from life circumstances include:
- Shift work (especially part-time or full-time night shifts)
- Alcohol use (especially misuse)
- Using stimulants like caffeine later in the day
- Bad sleep related habits and hygiene
- High stress levels
- Sleeping in a new or unfamiliar place
In addition to life circumstances, there are numerous medical reasons that can cause sleep deprivation as well. These include:
- Lack of quality sleep due to sleep apnea
- Degenerative brain disorders
- Mental health concerns (anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD)
- Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
- Restless leg syndrome
- Medications like corticosteroids, stimulants and more
- Short-term illnesses and infections
Ways to cure sleep deprivation
There are ways to treat sleep deprivation that range from just behavioral changes to medications. For medications and breathing support methods, you should consult your healthcare provider, but behavior changes are controllable and accessible on your own. This can simply just be adjusting your sleep-related behaviors and pre-sleep routine to be more consistent.
Here are some ways to treat and prevent sleep deprivation:
- Have a routine
- Make the time for sleep
- Limit frequent naps
- Limit the time you spend around bright lights or using electronics
- Avoid drinking alcohol or eating a meal too close to bedtime
- Physical activity can help
- Do not rely on sleeping medications
Sleep deprivation can happen to anyone, but knowing the symptoms, causes and treatments can help you prevent sleep deprivation before it can impair your overall health. Getting a good night’s sleep sets the tone for the rest of your day, so maintaining a good sleep routine will ensure you are supporting both your short-term and long-term health.
It takes practice and consistency to maintain good sleep hygiene, but it does not have to be a difficult chore. Here are some products we recommend to help you ensure you get the restful sleep you need:
- This Works: Deep Sleep Pillow Spray
- Blooming Blends: Sleep
- Dodow: Battery Powered - Sleep Aid Device