There is hardly anyone who has not suffered from sleep deprivation. It occurs when people get less sleep than is actually required to feel awake and alert. However, there is no set scale to indicate the amount of sleep required by an individual and it varies from person to person. However, seven to nine hours of sleep every night is generally recommended.
Sleep deprivation is a serious condition, and children and young adults are most prone to it. Not only does lack of sleep cause sleepiness during daytime, resulting in poor performance at work or school, it may also cause emotional difficulties, physical and psychological ailments that may even become life-threatening.
Causes of Sleep Deprivation
The causes of sleep deprivation can be stress, anxiety or depression. But its major causes are sleep disorders. The most serious among these disorders is sleep apnea that has led to many fatalities.
Sleep apnea causes breathing to happen in stops and starts. For treating sleep apnea, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy may be used. This clinically proven treatment uses CPAP technology to prevent the symptoms of sleep apnea from recurring.
Ill Effects of Sleep Deprivation
It is important to take the recommended hours of sleep every night to prevent feeling groggy, grumpy, tired and cranky the next day. Sleep disorders are also one of the reasons for sleep deprivation. Sleep apnea, one such disorder, can even become life-threatening if left untreated.
There are many ill effects of sleep deprivation:
- Affects long-term and short-term memory: Lack of sleep negatively impacts the connections formed in the brain during sleep. These connections help in processing and remembering new information. Though not life-threatening, it does affect short-term and long-term memory.
- Affects thinking and concentration: Lack of sleep leads to difficulty in thinking and concentration. It not only hampers problem-solving skills, but also makes the concentration waver, making it difficult to focus on the issue at hand. It also poses problems for those in the creative fields.
- Affects bodily balance and coordination: Sleep deprivation affects the sense of balance and coordination, making one prone to falls and physical accidents. These may prove life-threatening.
- Mood fluctuations: Not getting adequate sleep can make one moody, irritable and quick-tempered. Chronic sleep deprivation can even lead to anxiety or depression. For patients with anxiety and depression, sleep deprivation can even aggravate the condition.
- Causes drowsiness: Fatigue accumulates in the body due to lack of sleep. This results in drowsiness. If someone is behind the wheel and driving, this condition may lead to accidents, resulting in injury or death.
- Weakens body’s immunity: It has been found that lack of sleep weakens the immune system, leaving an open door to a host of diseases and ailments.
- Susceptibility to high blood pressure: Less than five hours of sleep at night makes an individual susceptible to high blood pressure that, if not controlled, becomes life-threatening.
- Ups risk of heart disease: The increased blood pressure and raised levels of chemicals linked to inflammation, caused by sleep deprivation, are known to play roles in causing heart diseases.
- Increases risk of diabetes: Sleep deprivation affects the body’s insulin release that lowers the amount of sugar in the blood. This leads to high blood sugar levels upping the risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes, if left untreated, can cause death.
- Causes weight gain: Sleep deprivation makes the release of chemicals erratic, the ones that signal the brain to stop eating when full. The result is overindulgence in food, leading to obesity. Obesity is one of the prime causes of heart diseases, diabetes and other deadly diseases.
- Affects sex drive: Lack of sleep results in low libido due to a drop in testosterone levels.
Sleep deprivation can be harmful, so it is important to take at least seven hours of sleep every night. It never hurts to be alert regarding sleep disorders. Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, snoring and insomnia can become life-threatening if left untreated.