Sleep Deprivation Symptoms
Sleep Deprivation Symptoms
Healthy sleep is important for proper health and function of our bodies. Recognizing sleep deprivation symptoms can be an early warning for us that we need to address the problem before we get into real trouble.
Each person is different in the amount of sleep they need to maintain proper healthy function of the body and mind. When we are infants we need many more hours of sleep than we do as adults.
While a newborn may sleep 14-17 hours a day according to the National Sleep Foundation, a healthy adult may only need a recommended 7-9 hours of sleep.
When you don’t get the sleep your body needs you begin to build up what is known as a sleep deficit. For instance, if your body needs 7 hours of sleep per night, but you only get 6 hours a night for 1 week, then at the end of the week you have a sleep deficit of a full night of normal sleep.
In 2006 Charles Czeisler, Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School wrote that the negative effects on cognitive performance of sleep deficit can be similar to those that occur after drinking too much alcohol: “We now know that 24 hours without sleep or a week of sleeping four or five hours a night induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .1%”.
Many people these days work long hours and go without sleep due to a number of factors. Corporate CEOs have bragged about working 100 hour work weeks. But is that really healthy?
Sleep deprivation is defined as a person getting less sleep than they need to feel awake and alert. The amount of sleep lost that would indicate a person is sleep deprived will vary with each individual.
So how can you know if you are suffering from sleep deprivation? Here are a few signs to look out for.
- Excessive Daytime Sleepiness– The most common symptom of sleep deprivation is being excessively sleepy during what is normally considered waking hours for you. This can also be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea as well. If you have unexplained excessive daytime sleepiness you should see your doctor for a referral to a sleep specialist.
- Changes in Mood or Behavior– Sleep deprivation can also lead to changes in mood such as irritability or increased moodiness. It can also lead to psychological problems such as depression. It can lead to increased cravings for food which can cause increased weight gain.
- Cognitive Changes– A person suffering from sleep deprivation may also have cognitive changes that may manifest in forgetfulness, trouble learning, trouble performing basic tasks, and trouble with concentration.
Effects Of Sleep Deprivation On Your Body
Sleep deprivation can also have major health effects. Sleep is the time our bodies have the ability to heal and regenerate. Lack of sleep affects your body in a number of ways.
- Weakens The Immune System– Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system. This means you have a greater chance of getting sick, as well as having a greater chance of developing chronic disease.
- Increases The Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease– In addition to weakening the immune system that same lack of sleep can also put increased strain on your cardiovascular system. This can lead to heart disease and even heart attack.
- Weight Gain– Lack of sleep can affect the hormones that affect when the body tells you it is hungry and you need to eat. This can result in weight gain due to you feeling hungry all the time.
- Systemic Inflammation– Lack of sleep can lead to increased inflammation in your body, causing a host of problems.
- Increased Risk of Diabetes– Sleep deprivation also raises your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
How Do You Prevent This?
It’s simple to prevent sleep deprivation. Get the proper amount of healthy sleep. If you are having problems sleeping you can try a few different things before you see a physician.
- Meditation- Try meditation or relaxation techniques.
- Set A Sleep Schedule- Having a set bedtime will get your body into a routine and help you feel sleepy when the time comes.
- Try Aromatherapy- Many people have found that inhaling the scent of lavender or roman chamomile essential oils can make them feel relaxed and help them get to sleep. If you feel like this is something that may help you there is a wonderful kit available here.
- See a Sleep Specialist- If you can’t find a way to get enough sleep and you need medical help, find a board-certified sleep physician who will be able to diagnose your condition and recommend treatment options.
Getting enough sleep is essential to your health and well being. Knowing sleep deprivation symptoms is the first step in identifying whether you have a problem. If you have any of these symptoms please do something about it. The risks to your health of sleep deprivation are not something you want to ignore.