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How To Tell If You Have Sleep Deprivation

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Addressing Or Preventing Sleep Deprivation

How To Tell If You’re Sleep Deprived

If you regularly wake up unrefreshed and are tired during the day, its time to take action to get the sleep you need. It can be tempting to simply pop a pill when youre desperate to get some rest. But theres much you can do to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep, without having to rely on medication.

While sleeping pills or sleep aids can be useful for short-term use, theyre not a cure and dont address the underlying causes of your sleep problemand over time may even make your symptoms worse. Instead, there are a number of lifestyle and behavioral changes you can make to address sleep deprivation and get your sleep schedule back on track.

Calm your anxious mind at night. Avoid screens, work, and stressful conversations in the hour before bed. Instead, develop a relaxing bedtime routine that enables you to wind down and calm your mind. Try taking a warm bath, listening to soft music or an audiobook, reading by a dim light, or practicing a relaxation technique such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation.

Postpone worrying. If you lie awake at night anxiously fretting, make a brief note of your worries on paper and allow yourself to postpone worrying until the following day. When youre refreshed after a good nights sleep, youll be in a much better place to deal with the problem.

Maintain a regular sleep schedule. By going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends, youll support your biological clock.

When To See A Doctor

In many cases, lifestyle adjustments can improve sleep quality and quantity. However, if these changes are not effective, see a doctor. Underlying health conditions, certain medications, and other factors can interfere with quality sleep.

If a person frequently has trouble sleeping, they may want to ask their doctor about a sleep study. This can help identify sleep disorders.

Facts Related To Sleep Deprivation

Some of the facts about deprivation that everybody should know are as follows:

  • When you dont give your body the amount of sleep required to remain fresh, you keep adding to the debt, this debt becomes sleep deprivation.
  • Sleep deprivation can occur as a result of medical conditions, mental illness, or medications.
  • Studies have shown that sleep deprivation has contributed to some very dangerous and disastrous accidents in ships, cars and space ships.
  • Lack of sleep can cause changes in your intelligence level, aptitude, cognitive reasoning abilities, alertness, as well as your ability to focus and concentrate.

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Practice Healthy Sleep Habits Yourself

Sometimes the very fact of being chronically sleep-deprived can make it difficult for us to fall asleep even when an opportunity presents itself. Now is a good time to acquire a toolbox of things to try when you are having trouble sleeping yourself. Meditation, having a daily sleep-inducing ritual, journaling before bed, and breathing techniques before sleep can be very helpful.

Health Risks And Sleep Intoxication

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If you arent getting enough sleep, its important to understand the effects it may have on you. Intense sleep deprivation a full 24 hours without sleep can result in symptoms similar to intoxication, Dr. Smolley says. Sleep deprivation impairs your judgment, and you may struggle to make decisions or stay alert.

More common than this dramatic, one-time deprivation, however, is chronic, poor sleep quality. Several consecutive nights of bad sleep due to a new baby, a snoring partner or a sleep disorder like sleep apnea can also result in this intoxicated experience.

Sleep should be refreshing and restorative, Dr. Smolley says. When it isnt, you can struggle with mental changes.

When you are lacking in sleep, it can affect various parts of the brain. This can result in:

  • Difficulty staying on task
  • Lack of ability to focus in monotonous situations or on repetitive tasks
  • Falling asleep in school or during meetings at work
  • Difficulty learning

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What About Stress Do Sleep

Yes, that seems a sure bet. As weve already seen, one study found that sleep-deprived teens reacted more negatively to a conflict discussion with peers. And experiments suggest that sleep deprivation alters brain activity in adults and children alike making neural regions that process emotion more reactive in response to potentially threatening social stimuli .

Oversleeping Vs Undersleeping: Both Are Bad

Oversleeping can be just as bad as undersleeping. The opposite of insomnia or not getting enough sleep is hypersomnia, or sleeping too much. This isnt the same as getting extra sleep following a night of sleep deprivation done rarely, this wont harm your sleep health. Consistently oversleeping, however, is a clear sign of underlying health conditions that you should not ignore.

Some signs that you may be sleeping too much include:

  • Excessive sleep duration well beyond the recommended 7-8 hours per night.
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning, and difficulty getting out of bed.
  • Feeling tired and unfocused throughout the day.

Hypersomnia can also be a sign of depression, especially in teens and young adults. It may also indicate another underlying sleep disorder, such as restless legs syndrome , narcolepsy, and obstructive sleep apnea . Its also possible to suffer from hypersomnia and insomnia at the same time. This is why its so important for short sleepers and long sleepers both to get tested for sleep disorders.

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Lack Of Sleep Impairs Performance

Lets say that a person who needs eight hours of sleep per night only gets six. This two-hour sleep loss can have a major impact including:

  • Reduced alertness
  • Errors of omission making a mistake by forgetting to do something
  • Errors of commission making a mistake by doing something, but choosing the wrong option
  • Microsleep brief periods of involuntary sleeping that range from a few seconds to a few minutes in duration.

Stats On Parental Sleep Deprivation

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Almost all parents will experience sleep deprivation in the first six weeks or so after a baby is born. After all, babies dont even know night from day at that point. But even once babies consolidate more of their sleeping to the nighttime hours, sleep deprivation is still part of the new parent experience during the first year, and usually beyond.

In fact, a 2019 study published in the journal Sleep found that parents experienced some sort of sleep deprivation for the first six years of their childrens lives. Of course, this doesnt mean that the magnitude of sleep deprivation was the same throughout, but it is very common for young children not to sleep as soundly as we hope and expect them to. Here are some other highlights from the study:

  • Mothers reported an average of 40 minutes lost sleep per night in the first year of their babys life.
  • Mothers were the most sleep-deprived during the first three months of their babys life, reporting an average sleep loss of about an hour.
  • Fathers experienced sleep loss as well, but not as intensely as mothers, averaging a sleep loss of 13 minutes per night during the first three months.
  • Mothers reported lingering sleep deprivation for the first four to six years after the birth of their first child, though similar results were not reported after the birth of subsequent children.

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The 13 Major Sleep Deprivation Signs In Adults You Need To Watch Out For

We all know that our body needs sleep to repair and replenish, but what happens when our bodies are chronically sleep deprived without us even knowing?

A sleep study in 2012 showed that nearly 30% of adults worldwide are sleep deprived.

But what does being sleep deprived mean exactly, and is it really as bad for our health as some journals and news outlets report?

You Know You Are Sleep Deprived If You Experience These Things

Whether you are a parent, have a busy schedule, or just struggle with falling asleep in general, you are not alone. More than one-third of Americans are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Medical professionals recommend that adults between the ages of eighteen and sixty sleep at least seven hours a night. Without the seven hours of good quality rest ones health and well-being are greatly diminished.

Sleeping less than the recommended amount is associated with issues such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and mental distress. When someone gets less than the recommended amount of good quality sleep, they can become sleep deprived.

Children and young adults are the most vulnerable to sleep deprivation as their brains are still developing. However, sleep deprivation can impact people of any age. Below you will find symptoms of sleep deprivation. If you are experiencing some or all of these, you should consult your sleep specialist in NYC, Dr. Shukla and see how he can help support you in finding a way to get a good nights rest.

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But Why Are We Like This

So, why do we keep doing this to ourselves? The answer is not so straightforward and a lot of it comes down to our culture, technology, prioritization of productivity over health, and stress.

2020 isn’t making our sleep recovery any easier, either. “Stressors like dealing with the uncertainties of elections, or the societal changes associated with a pandemic can lead to an impairment in the brain’s ability to successfully restore brain and bodily functions during sleep,” says Dr. Nofzinger. “In these cases, the mind can still be working too hard, despite being “asleep” and lead to feelings of sleep deprivation the following day.”

“Stressors like dealing with the uncertainties of elections, or the societal changes associated with a pandemic can lead to an impairment in the brain’s ability to successfully restore brain and bodily functions during sleep.”

Both Dr. Nofzinger and Dr. Dimitriu cite anxiety as a chief contributor to the loss of sleep hours and quality. “Anxiety can often lead to insomnia, which can impact the amount and depth of sleep and our 24/7 inboxes certainly do not give us a break,” says Dr. Dimitriu. “I often joke with my patients that our days are so busy, ‘they have squeezed out our nights.'” “There simply isn’t time or reward for sleeping more .” This is where culture plays a large role in sleep deprivation.

Aches And Pains Seem Worse

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A common test for pain tolerance is to see how long someone can keep their hand in cold water.

In trials published in May from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, those with insomnia were more likely to remove their hand earlier than those sleeping well.

Studies have also shown those with chronic pain say their symptoms are worse when tired.

“We’re still trying to unpick why, but there are some theories,” says Professor Nicole Tang, a health psychologist who specialises in sleep and pain at the University of Warwick. “Sleep loss lowers mood and, in a low mood state, people are more likely to be looking for pain and be more aware of it.

“We also know that levels of inflammatory chemicals involved in pain are raised after a poor night’s sleep. Finally, one way the body controls pain is via signals sent down from the brain, which inhibit pain sensations – it’s possible that, during sleep deprivation, this descending pathway is weakened for some reason.

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Nodding Off While Driving

Drowsy driving is a serious problem, and the 70 million Americans suffering from a sleep disorder are having a frightening effect on the highway. One out of every 25 adult drivers admit to falling asleep while driving in the past 30 days. That means a lot of people on the road are getting such poor sleep that it is putting their lives, and the lives of those around them, in jeopardy.

Falling asleep at the wheel is of course very dangerous. But just being overly sleepy can be harmful too. It can slow your reaction time to dangerous situations. The national highway administration estimates that 72,000 crashes a year are caused by drowsy drivers, leading to an estimated 800 deaths. Medications that make you sleepy can make this serious problem even worse, so check the labels carefully and avoid driving after taking these prescriptions.

Is Sleep Deprivation Different From Insomnia

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.

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Sleep Problems Are Linked With Feeding Problems

Researchers studying over 600 American babies, aged 6-36 months, found that babies with feeding difficulties fell asleep later at night and slept for shorter intervals. They were also more likely be diagnosed with behavioral insomnia .

Does a lack of sleep cause feeding problems? Do feeding problems cause sleep loss? Or do these troubles go together for some other reason?

We cant know the answer from this study. It reports correlations only. But in a follow-up study, researchers found that both types of trouble tend to make parents feel more distressed , and parental distress can fuel sleep problems.

Getting Back To Sleep

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You’ve seen just how harmful to your health going without sleep can be. But for millions of people, getting enough sleep is frustratingly difficult. There are ways to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, though, if you’re willing to put in some effort.

  • Make a sleep schedule and keep to it. That means going to bed and waking up at the same time every nightyes, even on weekends.
  • Create a good sleeping environment inside your bedroom. People sleep best when the room is dark, quiet, and cool. If ambient light is getting through your windows, the right curtains or tape can shut it out.
  • Avoid naps, and particularly afternoon naps. These can further disrupt your sleep cycle and make it tough to fall asleep at bedtime.
  • Staying active can help prepare your body to sleep. Intense workouts are best, but any additional activity helps.
  • Make sure your mattress and pillow are comfortable. Pick a pillow that matches your own sleeping style.
  • Get into a bedtime ritual. Doing the exact same things before you turn out the lights can remind your body that it’s time to go to bed.

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Sleep Deprivation: What To Expect

Babies are not biologically programmed to sleep very soundly. Its just a fact. Its extremely common for babies to wake multiple times each night for the first three months, and often much longer than that.

All babies are different, and some seem to be born with the ability to sleep more soundly than others. In general, this is what you can expect in terms of how your baby will sleep:

  • For the first six months, babies spend about 50% of their time in active sleep , during which they are much more likely to wake easily.
  • Babies wake up to eat, even in the middle of the night, for at least the first 34 months, usually longer.
  • Until preschool age, children have shorter sleep cycles than adults: 50 minutes as opposed to 90 minutes.
  • Until about six weeks, babies do not have regulated circadian rhythms, meaning sleep happens in uneven chunks, and babies are often wide awake in the middle of the night.

Feeling Sleepy During The Day

Most of us feel a little sleepy as a busy workday draws to a close, but people with sleep deprivation feel constantly exhausted almost every day. Signs of excessive tiredness include:

  • Resorting to caffeine to keep you awake Needing strong coffee or energy drinks just to get through the day. Feel very sleepy if you ever try to cut back.

  • Showing physical signs of sleepiness Including excessive yawning, dropping of the head, slow blinking or a blank stare.

  • Scoring below 4 on the Stanford Sleepiness Scale An internationally recognized scale to assess your level of alertness.

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Tips For Making Up Lost Sleep

Not everyone needs the same number of hours of sleep per night. Some people need nine or more, and others are fine with six or less. To figure out how much you need, take stock of how you feel the next day after different amounts of sleep.

You can also figure out how much sleep you need by allowing your body to sleep as much as it needs over the course of a few days. Youll then naturally get into your bodys best sleep rhythm, which you can continue after the experiment is over.

Tips for catching up on lost sleep

If you miss getting in enough hours of sleep, here are a few ways you can make it up.

  • Take a power nap of about 20 minutes in the early afternoon.
  • Sleep on the weekends, but not more than two hours past the normal time you wake up.
  • Sleep more for one or two nights.
  • Go to bed a little earlier the next night.

If you experience chronic sleep debt, the above recommendations wont help very much. Instead, youll want to make some long-term changes.

If these steps dont help, or if you experience other sleep issues like narcolepsy or sleep paralysis, talk to your doctor. You may benefit from a sleep study to determine whats wrong.

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