Sleep plays a significant role in the overall functioning of our entire body. When your body doesn’t get the sleep it needs it’s called sleep deprivation, and it affects nearly one third of American adults. Lack of sleep, especially over a period of time, can affect the way we think and feel and lead to an array of physical and mental health problems. The easiest way to avoid sleep deprivation is to understand what it is and how to prevent it.
Sleep deprivation: getting less that amount of sleep than your body requires. The amount required varies depending on age and health. To learn the recommended amount of sleep you need read How Much Sleep Do You Need?
There are 3 types of sleep deprivation:
- Acute sleep deprivation: A significant lack of sleep for a short period of time, usually a few days or less.
- Chronic sleep deprivation: A significant lack of sleep that continues for 3 months or more.
- Chronic sleep deficiency: An ongoing significant lack of sleep.
What causes sleep deprivation?
There are many causes of sleep deprivation including lifestyle choices/changes, work schedule/shift work, poor sleep hygiene, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, and other medical conditions.
What are the sign/symptoms of sleep deprivation?
The biggest sign is excessive sleepiness during the day and having a hard time staying awake. Other signs of can include:
- mood swings/ irritability
- lack of concentration
- brain fog
- worsened memory
- poor decision making
- decreased energy levels
Experiencing these symptoms consistently over a period of time can really do a number on your body and result in some serious health conditions. Studies have linked chronic sleep deprivation to increased risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks, high blood pressure and stroke, diabetes, obesity, immunodeficiency, hormone abnormalities, increased pain levels, and mental health disorders. There is a strong correlation in persistent lack of sleep and depression, anxiety, and bi-polar disorder.
How do you prevent sleep deprivation?
The biggest action step is to establish a sleep regimen and stick to it. Having a consistent sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time daily) is key. Adjusting your sleeping environment and daily habits may be difficult at first but will pay off in the long run. Tips For A Better Sleep is a great resource for establishing a sleep routine that will set you up for success.
Always talk to your doctor if you are experiencing sleep deprivation symptoms so that together you can create a plan of action that is best for you!