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What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Deprivation

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Treatment Options For Sleep Deprivation

Signs of Sleep Deprivation – Banner Health

The primary treatment of sleep deprivation is to increase total sleep time. Treating the cause of sleep deprivation is generally the solution to the problem. If a sleep disorder is interrupting sleep, the problem will need to be addressed in order to improve sleep duration and quality. Inadequate sleep hygiene or insufficient sleep is often a cause that needs to be addressed.3

Poor Blood Sugar Control

A lack of sleep can also wreak havoc with our bodys ability to regulate our blood sugar levels. Dr Bostock explains that sleep deprivation can lead to higher insulin resistance and higher blood glucose levels, and over time, a risk of developing diabetes.

Is there any way to help our bodies counteract this risk? Avoid high glycaemic index foods as much as possible, Dr Bostock advises, adding that regular exercise and rest are also key. Again, if youre concerned that your lack of sleep could be putting you at risk, seek help from a doctor.

Experiencing The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

The most notable effect of sleep deprivation is the impact on your mood. Feeling irritable, upset or depressed about things that didnt used to bother you. Effects of sleep deprivation also include:

  • Unable to concentrate or remember things Missing appointments, forgetting about work assignments or conversations with people.

  • Making lots of mistakes Everything seems much harder and you become clumsy with even small routine tasks. Feel rushed and unable to cope.

  • Losing interest in things you found enjoyable No longer seem to have energy for hobbies you once enjoyed. Things you used to find interesting no longer seem so.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Deprivation

The primary signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation include excessive daytime sleepiness and daytime impairment such as reduced concentration, slower thinking, and mood changes.

Feeling extremely tired during the day is one of the hallmark signs of sleep deprivation. People with excessive daytime sleepiness may feel drowsy and have a hard time staying awake even when they need to. In some cases, this results in microsleeps in which a person dozes off for a matter of seconds.

Insufficient sleep can directly affect how a person feels during their waking hours. Examples of these symptoms include:

  • Slowed thinking
  • Lack of energy
  • Mood changes including feelings of stress, anxiety, or irritability

A persons symptoms can depend on the extent of their sleep deprivation and whether it is acute or chronic. Research also suggests that some individuals are more likely to experience symptoms after a lack of sleep and that this may be tied to a persons genetics. Stimulants like caffeine can also mask the symptoms of sleep deprivation, so its important to note how you feel on and off these substances.

Are All Definitions Of Sleep Deprivation The Same

Effects Of Sleep Deprivation Infographic

In sleep medicine, sleep deprivation is defined based on sleep duration, which is the total amount of time a person spends asleep. In reality, though, being well-rested is about more than just how many hours you sleep. As a result, the terms sleep deficiency or sleep insufficiency are more frequently used to describe factors that reduce the quantity and/or quality of sleep and keep a person from waking up refreshed.

In this way, sleep deficiency has a broader application. For example, a person who sleeps for a total of eight hours but with many awakenings that fragment their sleep may have insufficient sleep even though their sleep duration technically meets the recommended amount.

This terminology can be distinct from everyday conversation in which the term sleep deprivation may be used with a wider meaning that refers to poor sleep overall and not just total sleep duration.

Even in the medical field, studies may use different technical definitions of sleep deprivation as some classify it as seven hours of sleep or fewer while others use six hours as the cutoff.

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What Are Signs Of Sleep Deprivation

Feeling tired every day? Don’t ignore those symptoms.

Everyday Health: What are the most common signs of sleep deprivation, and why is it important not to ignore them?

David O. Volpi, MD, FACS

Daytime symptoms of sleep deprivation include waking with headaches and feeling fatigued throughout the day. The sleep deprived can feel irritable. They can have poor memory, lack of concentration, and inability to perform certain tasks, which leads to poor job performance. They can have difficulty with motor function, and it can be dangerous for them to operate a car or machinery. Cognitive functions such as math skills can be affected. It can lead to depression as well. Its important not to ignore these symptoms because sleep deprivation ultimately affects their work life and relationships, and gives them a poor quality of life not to mention that there may be the underlying physical cause of snoring or sleep apnea.

William Dement, MD, PhD

The main sign of sleep deprivation, in an otherwise healthy person, is being tired all the time. Falling asleep requires a lesser degree of bodily activity. Heavy eyelids are the major sign of sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation leads to cognitive impairment and the potentially fatal danger of falling asleep in a hazardous situation, like behind a wheel of a car.

Russell Rosenberg, PhD

Scott Eveloff, MD

Conrad Iber, MD

John K. Mori, MD

How Much Sleep Is Enough

Sleep requirements differ from one person to the next depending on age, physical activity levels, general health and other individual factors. In general:

  • Primary school children need about nine to 10 hours. Studies show that increasing your childs sleep by as little as half an hour can dramatically improve school performance.
  • Teenagers need about nine to 10 hours too. Teenagers have an increased sleep requirement at the time when social engagements and peer pressure cause a reduction in sleep time. Lifestyle factors such as early school start times deprive them of the required sleep-in. There is evidence that around the time of becoming a teenager, there is a shift in the sleep-wake cycle to being sleepy later in the evening with a preference for waking later.
  • Adults need about eight hours, depending on individual factors. We tend to need less sleep as we age, but be guided by your own state of alertness if you feel tired during the day, aim to get more sleep.

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Management Of Sleep Deprivation Symptoms

If you are experiencing symptoms of sleep deprivation, there are a few things you can do to address the issue:

  • Talk to your doctor about any medical conditions that may be causing the problem,
  • Create and stick to a regular sleep schedule as best as possible,
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime,
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine,
  • Designate certain times during the day as screen-free, and
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature

Management Of Insomnia

If you are struggling with insomnia, there are a few things that you can do to help improve your sleep, such as:

  • Establishing a bedtime routine,
  • Using relaxation techniques before bed, and
  • Avoiding watching television or working on the computer in bed

For Medical Conditions

If you have a medical condition that is causing your sleep problems, you must talk to your doctor and find a treatment plan that works for you.

Wellness Recovery Action Plan

Signs of Sleep Deprivation

A Wellness Recovery Action Plan helps you account for important decisions and contact persons you may need if you get into a crisis. The National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends these plans as a means to avoid a crisis or have easy resources to reach out to. Examples of items on this plan include:

  • phone numbers of key family members, friends, and/or healthcare providers
  • phone numbers of local crisis lines, walk-in crisis centers and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK
  • your personal address and phone number
  • medications that youre currently taking
  • known triggers for mania

You can also create other plans with trusted family members or loved ones. For instance, your plan can record decisions about who will handle certain things during an episode. It might record who will take care of important tasks such as paying your bills or feeding your pets. It can also record who will manage financial details, such as finding sales receipts or making returns if spending sprees become a problem.

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Have A Pleasant Sleep Environment

Youre more likely to get quality sleep if your bedroom is comfortable and relaxing.

To create an ideal sleep environment:

  • Turn off electronics, including TVs and smartphones.
  • Keep the bedroom cool .
  • Use a comfortable mattress and pillow.
  • Cover up loud sounds with a fan, humidifier, or white noise machine.

Missing Sleep Impairs Your Judgment

Some studies suggest that failing to get the right amount of sleep every night actually damages parts of your brain and causes cells to break down.

Its no wonder then, that one of the most common lack of sleep symptoms is impaired judgement.

According to research, not getting enough sleep has a similar impact on the brain as being drunk.

Just as you have a hard time making good decisions about your present and future when youve had too many drinks, youll find that you cant judge things well when youre sleepy either.

You might make poor decisions at work and harm your chances of an upcoming promotion.

Alternatively, you might find yourself failing to judge important things properly when youre on the road. Lack of sleep makes you into an irrational and more dangerous driver.

Importantly, a lot of people struggle to make the right judgements about how much sleep they need when theyre exhausted too.

Studies have shown that many people getting less than 6 hours of sleep believe that they adapt to the reduced slumber over time.

However, when researchers look at the mental alertness and cognitive performance of these people, they find that their ability to respond well to various scenarios is often diminished.

There is a point in sleep deprivation where you might start to lose touch with just how exhausted you really are.

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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

Sleep loss is generally a readily treatable health issue. However, it often goes undetected. The most important thing for healthcare providers to do is routinely screen for concerns with sleep in patients. Once a patient is found to have difficulty sleeping, proper treatment can begin.

For both diagnosis and treatment, an interprofessional team approach is beneficial. The family practitioner can enlist the help of psychiatry professionals or a sleep disorder specialist. The pharmacist should monitor all medications, looking for drug interactions, side effects potential, and in rare cases, misuse of sleep medication, alerting the team of any issues. Nursing can also play a vital role by verifying patient compliance, counseling on lifestyle and sleep hygiene issues, and letting the treating clinician know of any concerns. Psychiatric and medical care go hand and hand in promoting good sleep. It is essential that a psychiatrist considers a patient’s physical health and that a PCP considers a patient’s psychiatric health when treating sleep. Only with an interprofessional approach can sleep disorder management be optimized for patient benefit.

Effects Of Sleep Loss On Children

Sleep Deprivation: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, and Treatments ...

Selected statistics from research studies into sleep loss and its effects on children and teenagers include:

  • Sleep loss causes a range of schooling problems, including naughtiness and poor concentration.
  • Chronically sleep-deprived teenagers are more likely to have problems with impulse control, which leads to risk-taking behaviours.
  • Sleep problems in teenagers are associated with increased risk of disorders such as depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder .
  • High school students who regularly score C, D or F in school tests and assignments get, on average, half an hour less sleep per night than high school students who regularly get A and B grades.
  • Later start times at school result in reduced daytime sleepiness, higher grades and reduced negative feelings.

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Trouble With Thinking And Concentrating

Dr Sophie Bostock studied medicine at Nottingham University, and later completed a PhD in Health Psychology at University College London . Dr Bostock spent five years working on award-winning digital sleep programme Sleepio, and, in collaboration with the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute in Oxford, has published research on the effects of better sleep on mental health and performance. Dr Bostock has also delivered talks for Tedx and Talks@Google.

As anyone who has ever suffered a bad nights sleep can tell you, the resulting sleep deprivation can result in a fuzzy head that can cause difficulty with thinking and concentrating.

Every aspect of cognitive function is vulnerable to sleep loss, explains Dr Bostock. The most sensitive? Reaction time. According to The National Sleep Foundation guidelines, our reaction times are likely to increase alongside our sleep debt, meaning that we react more slowly to a stimulus this can make us less productive and tasks can take longer.

Dr Bostocks adds that other cognitive functions affected by sleep loss include verbal fluency, creativity, problem solving and evaluation of risk. Try avoiding alcohol and caffeine to help prevent making these symptoms worse, and train yourself in improving your hand-eye coordination to try and improve your overall reaction time.

How Is Insufficient Sleep Treated

Families often work with the sleep team’s psychologist to resolve sleep problems. While this may involve more than one visit, it is often resolved with two or three visits. The psychologist helps families learn new habits and behaviors that support better sleep. In most cases, an important part of increasing sleep is improving sleep habits.

The first step in treating insufficient sleep is making sure that we properly diagnose and treat any medical problems that could reduce sleep. This begins with a visit to our sleep clinic with a physician or a nurse practitioner specializing in sleep treatments. After an exam, they will suggest possible treatments and may recommend additional tests or procedures.

Children with insomnia may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy strategies that help them fall asleep more easily and quickly. Treating night awakenings involves training infants and children to learn to fall asleep independently and soothe themselves back to sleep after their natural wakings during the night. In all cases, our sleep psychologists offer support for families interested in making sleep changes because we recognize that learning new skills and behaviors is often challenging for families.

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Identify Medications That Help

Healthcare providers typically treat acute manic episodes with medications known as antipsychotics. These drugs can reduce manic symptoms more quickly than mood stabilizers. However, long-term treatment with mood stabilizers can help prevent future manic episodes.

Examples of antipsychotics include:

Examples of mood stabilizers include:

If youve taken these medications in the past and have some understanding of how they work for you, you may want to write down that information in a medication card. Or you could have it added to your medical record.

What Are The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

10 Shocking Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

Immediate effects of sleep deprivation include exhaustion and reduced cognitive performance. You may find it difficult to complete tasks that you breeze through when youre fully rested. The long-term effects of sleep deprivation can be more insidious, as its linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and depression.

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How Is Sleep Deprivation Diagnosed

Doctors can often diagnose sleep deprivation by discussing a patients symptoms and sleep patterns. This may involve reviewing a sleep diary or taking a sleep questionnaire that offers a detailed look at sleep patterns and daytime symptoms.

In some cases, additional testing with sleep tracking technology, known as actigraphy, or with an overnight sleep study may be conducted if further information is needed or if a doctor suspects that the patient may have an underlying sleep disorder.

Prevention Of Sleep Deprivation Symptoms

There are many ways that you can prevent sleep deprivation.

Behavioral Changes

  • Make sure that you get enough hours of sleep,
  • going to bed and waking up at the same time every day,
  • avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed,
  • using the bedroom only for sleeping and sex, and
  • reserving the use of electronic devices for outside of the bedroom

Environmental Changes

Make sure your bedroom is dark enough , cool enough , and as quiet as possible using a fan to drown out noise or a white noise machine.

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Medical Conditions That Interfere With Sleep

What if I work the night shift?

  • Request to work the same shift several nights in a row, to avoid flipping between day and night shift schedules on consecutive days. This helps to regulate the circadian system.
  • Commit to a consistent sleep schedule, darkening the bedroom with blackout shades, and creating a quiet atmosphere as much as possible. You might reduce light exposure even earlier by wearing sunglasses as soon as you leave work. To reduce noise, wear earplugs and use a white noise machine to block sounds.
  • After finishing a night shift, try to return home and go to bed as soon as possible. Running errands, watching television, talking with family, or exercising can re-energize your body so that falling asleep becomes more difficult.
  • Although it is tempting to run errands and attend medical appointments during the day when places are less crowded, try to minimize doing them immediately after work so that you can return home and honor your sleep schedule.
  • Try to keep a set meal schedule. Do meal planning to ensure that quick easy meals are ready when you arrive home, and bring prepped meals/snacks to work for overnight shifts to prevent reliance on fast food and takeout meals. Try to avoid eating a large meal right before bed, which can increase the risk of reflux and indigestion.

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