Sleep deprivation is not a particular type of disease. It is usually caused by other illnesses and or the lifestyle of a person or circumstances that can cause its own symptoms with poor health outcomes.
Nature has created and programmed man with specific systems to help us function well. And when any of the system is affected the whole body may suffer.
Not having enough sleep for whatever reason is sleep deprivation. The condition can be either chronic or acute and do vary widely in severity.
Check Out How You Can Get Help To Sleep Well
Sleep deprivation is not a specific disease. It is usually the result of other illnesses or from life circumstances.
Sleep deprivation is becoming more common. Many people try to adjust their schedule to get as much done as possible, and sleep is sacrificed.
Sleep deprivation also becomes a greater problem as people grow older. Older adults probably need as much sleep as younger adults, but they typically sleep more lightly. They also sleep for shorter time spans than younger people. Half of all people older than 65 have frequent sleeping problems.
Sleep deprivation can occur for a number of reasons:
- Sleep disorder. These include insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless legs syndrome.
- Aging. People older than 65 have trouble sleeping because of aging, medicine they’re taking, or health problems they’re having.
- Illness. Sleep deprivation is common with depression, schizophrenia, chronic pain syndrome, cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer disease.
- Other factors. Many people have occasional sleep deprivation for other reasons. These include stress, a change in schedule, or a new baby disrupting their sleep schedule.
What are the symptoms of sleep deprivation?
At first, sleep deprivation may cause minor symptoms. But over time, these symptoms can become more serious.
Early symptoms may include:
- Inability to concentrate
- Memory problems
- Les physical strength
- Less ability to fight off infections
Sleep deprivation problems over time may include:
- High risk for depression and mental illness
- Increased risk for stroke and asthma attack
- Increased risk for potentially life-threatening problems. These include car accidents, and untreated sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy.
- Severe mood swings
Diagnosis of sleep deprivation
Sleep specialists say that one of the telltale signs of the condition is feeling drowsy during the day. In fact, even if a task is boring, you should stay alert during it if you are not sleep-deprived. Also, if you frequently fall asleep within five minutes of lying down, then you likely have severe sleep deprivation. People with sleep deprivation also experience “microsleeps,” which are brief periods of sleep during waking time. In many cases, sleep-deprived people may not even be aware that they are experiencing these microsleeps.
If you have any of these warning signs or the symptoms listed above, see your doctor or ask for a referral to a sleep specialist. Your doctor will ask you detailed questions to get a better sense of the nature of your sleeping problems.
In some instances, if a more serious and possibly life-threatening sleep disorder, such sleep apnea, is suspected, then the sleep specialist may conduct a test called a polysomnography, or a sleep study. This test actually monitors your breathing, heart rate, and other vital signs during an entire night of sleep. It gives the sleep specialist a lot of useful information to help diagnose and treat your underlying disorder.
Treatments for sleep deprivation vary based on how severe it is. In some cases, your doctor may want you to try self-care strategies before turning to medication. Your doctor may prescribe sleeping pills, but keep in mind that they tend to lose effectiveness after a few weeks and can then actually disrupt your sleep. For more serious insomnia, your doctor may have you try light therapy, which can help your body’s internal clock to readjust and allow you to sleep more restfully.
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may prescribe more serious treatment, such as a special breathing machine you’ll use while you sleep.
If your sleep deprivation is mild, these simple strategies may help you to get a better night’s sleep:
- Exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes each day, at least five to six hours before going to bed. This will make you more likely to fall asleep later in the day.
- Avoid substances that contain caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, all of which can disrupt your regular sleep patterns. Quitting smoking is always a good idea.
Managing sleep deprivation
Another step that may help you to get a good night’s sleep is sticking to a consistent schedule, meaning that you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If possible, waking up with the sun is a good way to reset your body’s clock more naturally.
Also, keep your bedroom at a reasonable temperature because a bedroom that is too hot or too cold can disrupt sleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try doing something else like reading a book for a few minutes. The anxiety of not being able to fall asleep can actually make sleep deprivation worse for some people.
Finally, be sure to see a doctor if your problems with sleep deprivation continue. Don’t let them linger.
Creating a relaxing bedtime routine often helps to conquer sleep deprivation and get a good night’s sleep. This can include taking a warm bath, reading, or meditating and allowing your mind to drift peacefully to sleep.