If you’ve ever tossed and turned during the night, you already know how you’ll feel the next day: exhausted, irritable, and unorganized. But getting sleep deprivation than the 7 to 9 hours each night that is recommended has effects further than just making you tired and cranky.
Lack of sleep does have long-term impacts.
It deprives you of your mental resources and seriously jeopardizes your physical health. Poor sleep has been scientifically linked to a variety of health issues, including immune system deterioration and weight gain.
Causes of Sleep Deprivation
In a nutshell, sleep deprivation is caused by constant sleepiness or poor sleep quality. Regularly getting less than 7 hours of sleep can eventually harm your overall health. In addition, a sleep issue may be the underlying reason for this.
To function at its best, your body requires sleep just as it does air and food. Your body repairs itself and rebalances its chemicals as you sleep. Your brain creates new connections between ideas and helps with memory recall.
If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain and body won’t function normally. Additionally, it may significantly reduce your quality of life.
The following are cautionary signs of sleep deprivation:
- Extreme drowsiness
- often yawning
- Daytime drowsiness
Caffeine and other stimulants can’t even make up for your body’s intense need for sleep. Making it more difficult to get to sleep at night can worsen sleep deprivation.
This could then result in a cycle of caffeine use during the day to make up for the fatigue brought on by the lack of sleep at night.
Chronic sleep deprivation can interfere with your body’s internal systems, which can result in symptoms that go beyond the ones mentioned above.
The Central Nervous System
Your body’s main information channel is your central nervous system. It needs sleep to stay healthy, but chronic insomnia can impair how your body normally transmits and processes information.
Your brain produces connections between nerve cells (neurons) when you sleep that help in the storage of newly learned knowledge. Your brain becomes exhausted from lack of sleep, making it less capable of carrying out its tasks.
Additionally, it might be more challenging for you to focus or pick up new information. Your body’s signals may also be delayed, which will make it harder for you to maintain coordination and raise your risk of accidents.
Your emotional and mental health are both negatively impacted by lack of sleep. You may have increased impatience or mood fluctuations. Additionally, it may impair judgment and originality.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you may begin to have hallucinations, which are false perceptions of sight or sound. Bipolar disorder sufferers may also experience mania when they are sleep deprived. A few more psychological issues are:
- Suicidal thoughts
Your immune system creates antibodies and cytokines, which are protective, infection-fighting molecules, while you’re sleeping. These substances help cells fight against outside attackers like viruses and bacteria.
Certain cytokines can also promote sleep, which enhances the effectiveness of your immune system in protecting your body from disease.
Lack of sleep stops your immune system from strengthening. Lack of sleep can affect your body’s ability to fight off intruders as well as how quickly you recover from illnesses.
The respiratory system and sleep have a reciprocal relationship. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a respiratory condition that occurs during the night, can cause sleep disruptions and poorer sleep quality.
This can result in sleep loss, which makes you more vulnerable to respiratory infections like the common cold and flu as you wake up throughout the night. Lack of sleep can aggravate respiratory conditions already present, such as chronic lung disease.
Lack of sleep is another risk factor for gaining weight, along with overeating and not exercising. Leptin and ghrelin, two hormones that regulate feelings of hunger and fullness, are affected by sleep.
Leptin signals to your brain that you have had enough food. Without enough sleep, your brain produces less leptin. The fluctuation of these hormones may account for late-night overeating or overnight munching.
You can feel too exhausted to exercise if you don’t get enough sleep. Reduced physical activity over time can result in weight gain because you don’t burn enough calories and don’t develop muscle mass.
Lack of sleep also reduces the body’s ability to tolerate glucose and is linked to insulin resistance. Obesity and diabetes type 2 can result from these changes.
Processes that sustain the health of your heart and blood vessels, such as those that impact your blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation levels, are all impacted by sleep. It is essential for your body’s capacity to heal and maintain the heart and blood vessels.
Cardiovascular disease is more likely to affect people who get sleep disturbances. One study found a connection between insomnia and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Treatment for Sleep Deprivation
Getting enough sleep, usually, 7 to 9 hours each night, is the most basic treatment approach for sleep deficiency.
Even if you haven’t slept for weeks or months, this can be difficult. After this, you might require help from your therapist or a sleep expert who, if necessary, can identify and treat a potential sleep disorder.
It may be tough to get a good night’s sleep if you have sleep disorders. They might also make you more susceptible to the bodily consequences of sleep deprivation listed above.
If you identify with a sleep disorder, you may be prescribed medication or a device to keep your airway open at night (in the case of obstructive sleep apnea) to assist in treating the condition and enable you to consistently receive better quality sleep.
Make sure you get enough sleep, as this will help you avoid sleep deprivation the most. Follow the requirements for your age group, which for most adults ages 18 to 64 is 7 to 9 hours.
Other techniques for regaining a regular sleep schedule include:
- limiting daytime naps (or avoiding them altogether)
- avoiding coffee after noon or at least a couple of hours before bedtime, going to bed and waking up at the same times every day, and maintaining your bedtime schedule on weekends and holidays.
- avoiding heavy meals a few hours before bedtime, spending an hour before bed calming activities like reading, meditation, or having a bath.
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