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How Can Sleep Deprivation Affect Your Health

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Is Sleep Deprivation Different From Insomnia

How Sleep Deprivation Can Affect Your Health

While both insomnia and sleep deprivation involve failing to get enough sleep, many experts in sleep science make a distinction between them. People with insomnia have trouble sleeping even when they have plenty of time to sleep. On the other hand, people with sleep deprivation dont have enough time allocated for sleep as a result of behavior choices or everyday obligations.

An illustration of this difference is that people who are sleep deprived because of a busy work schedule usually have no problems sleeping longer on weekends to try to catch up on sleep. Someone with insomnia, though, still struggles to sleep despite having the opportunity to do so.

There can be considerable overlap between how sleep deprivation and insomnia are described, but patients should be aware that their doctor or a sleep specialist may use more specific definitions.

Causes Of Sleep Deprivation:

Disturbances in physical or mental health can cause sleep problems. Also, unsuitable bedroom environments like the extremes of temperature, noise level, or improper lighting can contribute to sleep deprivation. Drinking an excessive amount of caffeine, stimulant medication, smoking and alcohol can adversely impact sleep. Certain mental health conditions like anxiety disorder, depression, substance misuse can cause insomnia.

A night-time breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnoea can interrupt sleep and lower the quality of sleep. It is a common condition mainly seen in obese people. Common symptom is of loud snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness.

What Happens When You Dont Get Enough Sleep

Your doctor urges you to get enough sleep for good reason, Dr. Walia says. Shorting yourself on shut-eye has a negative impact on your health in many ways:

Short-term problems can include:

  • Lack ofalertness. Even missing as little as 1.5 hours can have an impact on howyou feel.
  • Excessivedaytime sleepiness. It can make you very sleepy and tired during the day.
  • Impairedmemory. Lack of sleep can affect your ability to think, remember andprocess information.
  • Relationshipstress. It can make you feel moody and you can become more likely to haveconflicts with others.
  • Qualityof life. You may become less likely to participate in normal dailyactivities or to exercise.
  • Greaterlikelihood for car accidents. Drowsy driving accounts for thousands ofcrashes, injuries and fatalities each year, according to the National HighwayTraffic Safety Administration.

If you continue to operate without enough sleep, you may seemore long-term and serious health problems. Some of the most serious potentialproblems associated with chronic sleep deprivation are high blood pressure,diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Other potential problemsinclude obesity, depression, impairment in immunity and lower sex drive.

So lack of sleep could mean more wrinkles! Understand whysleep is so important yet?

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Treatment Of Chronic Insomnia

A number of at-home and professional treatment options are available for chronic insomnia. Treatment will depend on the cause of your insomnia and may involve medication or therapy to address an underlying condition.

Along with treating any existing conditions, your doctor may recommend one or a combination of treatment options for chronic insomnia.

How Can Sleep Deprivation Affect Your Mental Health

How Does Lack of Sleep Affect Your Health

Sleep research is steadily establishing itself as an important field, and scientists have been trying to unravel the mystery of sleep for quite some time now. It is believed that having enough sleep helps us to deal with adversity and demands in our busy lives. Sleep is, in many regards, a built-in biological source of the ability to bounce back and be resilient. And while the connection between sleep and mental health is not fully understood, many scientists and researchers believe that a good nights sleep helps foster emotional and mental resilience. Sleep deprivation sets the stage for depression, negative thinking, emotional vulnerability, and anxiety.

A lot of Americans are sleep deprived, with over 25 million people suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Those with psychiatric conditions are even more prone to be groggy or yawning during the day. Studies suggest that sleep problems are particularly common in people living with depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , bipolar disorder, OCD, and schizophrenia.

For a better understanding of these latest findings, well show you what the connection between sleep and mental health disorders is.

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How To Catch Up On Lost Sleep

If you don’t get enough sleep, there’s only one way to compensate getting more sleep.

It won’t happen with a single early night. If you’ve had months of restricted sleep, you’ll have built up a significant sleep debt, so expect recovery to take several weeks.

Starting on a weekend, try to add on an extra hour or 2 of sleep a night. The way to do this is to go to bed when you’re tired, and allow your body to wake you in the morning .

You might sleep up to 10 hours a night at first. After a while, the amount of time you sleep will gradually decrease to a normal level.

Don’t rely on caffeine or energy drinks as a short-term pick-me-up. They may boost your energy and concentration in the short term, but can disrupt your sleep patterns even further in the long term.

Page last reviewed: 5 August 2021 Next review due: 5 August 2024

Sleep Deprivation Can Affect Your Mental Health

Sleep and mental health are closely connected. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health. And those with mental health problems are more likely to have insomnia or other sleep disorders.

Americans are notoriously sleep deprived, but those with psychiatric conditions are even more likely to be yawning or groggy during the day. Chronic sleep problems affect 50% to 80% of patients in a typical psychiatric practice, compared with 10% to 18% of adults in the general U.S. population. Sleep problems are particularly common in patients with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder .

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How Sleep Deprivation Decays The Mind And Body

Getting too little sleep can have serious health consequences, including depression, weight gain, and heart disease. It is torture. I know.

I awoke in a bed for the first time in days. My joints ached and my eyelids, which had been open for so long, now lay heavy as old hinges above my cheekbones. I wore two pieces of clothing: an assless gown and a plastic bracelet.

I remembered the hallway I had been wheeled down, and the doctors office where I told the psychiatrist he was the devil, but not this room. I forced myself up and stumbled, grabbing the chair and the bathroom doorknob for balance. I made it to the toilet, then threw water on my face at the sink, staring into the mirror in the little lavatory. My tousled hair shot out around my puffy face my head throbbed. I looked hungover.

In those first moments, I remembered the basics about what had landed me in the hospital: Some pseudo-philosophical ranting and flailing brought on by a poorly executed experiment to see how long I could last without sleep.

I was 18, in Italy, on a school-sponsored trip with that pompously misnamed group for American teens who earn As and Bs, the National Honor Society. I stayed up writing all night, and the next morning, on little more than impulse, I decided to go for it.

Why? There are a few layers of why, and I will mine them later.

What Are Sleep Deprivation And Deficiency

What To Know About Sleep Deprivation And How It Can Affect Your Health.

Sleep deprivation is a condition that occurs if you don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deficiency is a broader concept. It occurs if you have one or more of the following:

  • You don’t get enough sleep
  • You sleep at the wrong time of day
  • You don’t sleep well or get all of the different types of sleep that your body needs
  • You have a sleep disorder that prevents you from getting enough sleep or causes poor quality sleep

This article focuses on sleep deficiency, unless otherwise noted.

Sleeping is a basic human need, like eating, drinking, and breathing. Like these other needs, sleeping is a vital part of the foundation for good health and well-being throughout your lifetime.

Sleep deficiency can lead to physical and mental health problems, injuries, loss of productivity, and even a greater risk of death.

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Mental Health And Sleep

    Most people know firsthand that sleep affects their mental state. After all, theres a reason its said that someone in a bad mood woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

    As it turns out, theres quite a bit of truth behind this colloquial saying. Sleep is closely connected to mental and emotional health and has demonstrated links to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other conditions.

    While research is ongoing to better understand the connections between mental health and sleep, the evidence to date points to a bidirectional relationship. Mental health disorders tend to make it harder to sleep well. At the same time, poor sleep, including insomnia, can be a contributing factor to the initiation and worsening of mental health problems.

    Both sleep and mental health are complex issues affected by a multitude of factors, but, given their close association, there is strong reason to believe that improving sleep can have a beneficial impact on mental health and can be a component of treating many psychiatric disorders.

    Increased Risk Of Accidents

    A lack of sleep can limit the ability to:

    • pay attention
    • react quickly
    • make decisions

    A person who gets too little sleep may have a higher risk of drowsy driving, which can lead to accidents. In one survey, adults in the U.S. said that they had fallen asleep at the wheel within the last month. People should not drive or use machinery if they feel drowsy.

    often help . A person can:

    • Try going to bed and waking up at the same times every day, even on the weekends, with the goal of establishing a routine.
    • Avoiding eating 23 hours before bedtime.
    • After trying to fall asleep for 20 minutes, get up and read, then try again later.
    • Get regular exercise during the day.
    • Keep the bedroom quiet, dark, and cool.
    • Turn off electronic devices and keep them away from the sleeping area.
    • Limit the consumption of caffeine and alcohol, especially close to bedtime.
    • Avoid tobacco use.
    • Use a mouth guard to manage bruxism.

    If these measures do not help, a person should see a healthcare provider, especially if getting too little sleep is affecting the quality of life.

    Some people find that devices help, including mouth guards, white noise machines, anti-snore devices, sleep trackers, wedge pillows, and other products. These are available for purchase online.

    However, there is no guarantee that any of these will work.

    A doctor, possibly a sleep specialist, starts by asking about:

    Useful information can include:

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    Pressures Not To Sleep

    After an evening with four or five hours of homework, Walworth turns to her cellphone for relief. She texts or talks to friends and surfs the Web. Its nice to stay up and talk to your friends or watch a funny YouTube video, she said. There are plenty of online distractions.

    While teens are biologically programmed to stay up late, many social and cultural forces further limit their time for sleep. For one, the pressure on teens to succeed is intense, and they must compete with a growing number of peers for college slots that have largely remained constant. In high-achieving communities like Palo Alto, that translates into students who are overwhelmed by additional homework for Advanced Placement classes, outside activities such as sports or social service projects, and in some cases, part-time jobs, as well as peer, parental and community pressures to excel.

    William Dement

    The problem of sleep-phase delay is exacerbated when teens are exposed late at night to lit screens, which send a message via the retina to the portion of the brain that controls the bodys circadian clock. The message: Its not nighttime yet.

    Yuan, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics, said she routinely sees young patients in her clinic who fall asleep at night with cellphones in hand.

    Why Is Good Sleep Important For The Brain

    How Sleep Affects Well

    Your brain also maximises sleep to organise and store thought processes in a way to help you recall your memories.

    Sleep is crucial for both basic and high-performance cognitive function.

    Research in recent years has discovered how sleep helps remove toxins from the brain by allowing cerebrospinal fluid to flow in and out and wash over the brain while sleeping.

    The pattern of amyloid plaque buildup toxic to the brain associated with Alzeheimers disease has recently been discovered also in those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.

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    Weight Gain & Obesity

    The effects of continual sleep problems include rapid weight gain. A lack of sleep is related to higher amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone the resulting anxiety, stress and frustration often contribute to emotional eating and poor nutritional habits. Another hormone, called ghrelin, is produced in the stomach and has been associated with sleep long-term deprivation an excess of ghrelin can actually make people feel more hungry.

    Over time, sleep deprivation negatively impacts the bodys metabolism and eating habits. Tiredness often leads to unhealthy cravings and overindulgence, accompanied by a decrease in stamina and physical activity. Research has shown that people who feel unrested are more likely to choose foods that are rich in carbohydrates and sugar.

    Mathematics tells us that a decrease in exercise, combined with an increase in the amount eaten plus an increase in the caloric value of the food ingested, equals weight gain. Obesity is a known risk factor for insomniacs.

    Diagram of the main 10 effects of long-term sleep deprivation on the human mind and body.

    How To Sleep Better

    If youre experiencing mild, occasional problems with sleep, try these simple strategies from sleep expert Michelle Drerup, PsyD, DBSM.

    1. Treat getting enough sleep as if it is as important as taking medicine.

    With all the demands on our time every day, you might put a good nights rest at the bottom of your priority list. But Dr. Drerup says we need to schedule adequate time for sleep.

    Its very easy to stay up late and burn the candle at both ends, she says. However, when you do that, you quickly run into a problem of dealing with sleep deprivation.

    2. Keep a consistent wake time.

    Wake up at the same time every day, including weekends or days off. Waking at the same time every day will actually help you to sleep better at night. A fixed wake time helps to build a strong desire for sleep throughout wakefulness. This sleep drive gradually builds, and shortening it by sleeping in will make it harder to fall asleep the next night. Sleeping in on the weekend makes it much more difficult to wake up earlier on Monday morning.

    It also is important, Dr. Drerup says, to do some relaxing activity such as taking a warm bath or reading a book before bedtime. By making these activities part of your bedtime ritual, you can train yourself to associate these activities with sleep. This association will help you to move more easily into slumber.

    3. Put away the smart phones and tablets.

    4. If you do wake up during the night, avoid looking at the clock.

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    The Physical Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

    Sleep deprivation occurs any time that you get less sleep than your body needs. The degree of sleep deprivation can range from total acute sleep loss to chronic deprivation due to a reduction in the total sleep time. This can occur over one night or stretch over weeks, months, or even years. If someone requires 9 hours of sleep to feel rested, it is possible to become sleep deprived by getting 8 hours of sleep.

    Most of the physical side effects from sleep deprivation are relatively minor and, thankfully, easily reversible. And the cure? Get some sleep. If you do not sleep enough, you may be faced with myriad consequences, including:

    Sleep Increases Sex Drive

    How Can Sleep Deprivation Affect My Immune System?

    Men and women who don’t get enough quality sleep experience a loss of libido and less of an interest in sex, research suggests.

    Men who suffer from sleep apnoea a disorder in which breathing difficulties lead to interrupted sleep also tend to have lower testosterone levels, which can lower libido.

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    How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Mental Health

    Sleep is a physical activity sought by all people. Whatever status we hold in life, none of us can go on with our daily lives without sleep. Sleep affects how we function, how we react to people and situations, and our mental well-being. Some people working under night shift have trained their bodies to operate with fewer hours of sleep. Towards examination periods, students increase their efforts to study into the wee morning hours. Insomnia causes others to get little or no sleep. All these circumstances mentioned deny us sleep. So, how does sleep deprivation affect your mental health?

    Causes Of Sleep Deprivation

    In a nutshell, sleep deprivation is caused by consistent lack of sleep or reduced quality of sleep. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis can eventually lead to health consequences that affect your entire body. This may also be caused by an underlying sleep disorder.

    Your body needs sleep, just as it needs air and food to function at its best. During sleep, your body heals itself and restores its chemical balance. Your brain forges new thought connections and helps memory retention.

    Without enough sleep, your brain and body systems wont function normally. It can also dramatically lower your quality of life.

    A found that sleeping too little at night increases the risk of early death.

    Noticeable signs of sleep deprivation include:

    Stimulants, such as caffeine, arent enough to override your bodys profound need for sleep. In fact, these can make sleep deprivation worse by making it harder to fall asleep at night.

    This, in turn, may lead to a cycle of nighttime insomnia followed by daytime caffeine consumption to combat the tiredness caused by the lost hours of shut-eye.

    Behind the scenes, chronic sleep deprivation can interfere with your bodys internal systems and cause more than just the initial signs and symptoms listed above.

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