What To Do About Sleep Deprivation
Regardless of why youre experiencing sleep deprivation, its important to take quick actions to resume regular sleep patterns. You can take care to develop a really good sleep hygiene, try some home remedies to alleviate restless nights, or explore ways to talk to your doctor about potential sleep disorders.
You can also do more research if you do feel you are at risk of OSA. You can take a brief online questionnaire to see if you are a good candidate for home sleep testing.
Because your brain is the center of all of your voluntary and involuntary functions, it needs sleep in order to effectively do its job. All of your cognitive skills are dependent on having a rested, healed brain. Good sleep is the foundation of good health, so start investigating sooner rather than later and youll start seeing the incredible effects of great sleep.
People Feel Lonelier After Sleepless Nights And Being Lonely Makes It Harder To Sleep Well
Researchers have found that sleep-deprived young adults are less likely to connect socially with other people, and that people who report poor sleep also tend to say they’re lonelier. To make things worse, people who feel lonely don’t tend to sleep as well, which can lead to a sort of vicious cycle.
Youll Be In A Worse Mood
Sleep deprivation doesnt just affect your mental focus, it also plays a role in your hormone regulation. If you dont get enough sleep, your ability to manage stress decreases and may become more reactive to stressors you could normally handle. Dont be surprised if you find yourself cranky or emotionally out of whack if you are in a sleep deficit!
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Sleep Deprivation Amps Up The Brain
The brain gets more active the longer it goes without sleep
Anyone who has pulled an all-nighter knows it is possible to be tired without being sleepy. The body slows and concentration slips, even as thoughts spin toward a manic blur. It feels as though the sleep-deprived brain is actually becoming more active. And indeed it is, according to a recent study in the journal Cerebral Cortex.
The results jibe with a widely held theory that while we are awake, our neurons are constantly forming new synapses, or connections to other neurons, which ramps up the activity in our brain. Many of these connections are irrelevant, but the only way to prune them is by shutting down for a while. The theory explains why it is difficult to cram new information into a sleepy brain. But it also helps to explain some unusual medical observations: epileptics are more likely to have seizures the longer they stay awake, and severely depressed patients with abnormally low brain activity sometimes improve after skipping sleep. You keep them awake for one night, and, incredibly, they get better, Massimini says.
This article was originally published with the title “Tired and Amped” in SA Mind 23, 3, 14
Heart Disease Risk Rises With Sleep Deprivation
There’s plenty of evidence that sleep deprivation has a negative effect on the heart. When researchers kept people awake for 88 hours, their blood pressure went up . Even participants who were allowed to sleep for four hours a night showed an elevated heart rate when compared with those who got eight hours. Concentrations of C-reactive protein, a marker of heart-disease risk, also increase in people who are fully or partially deprived of sleep.
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Short Sleep Hinders Brain Function The Next Day And For Many Days After That
To try to better understand how long it takes to recover from a bout of sleep deprivation, Dr. Ochab and his team recruited 19 study participants, ages 20 to 22, to take part in a three-week study.
The participants wore wrist sensors that recorded their rest and activity cycles throughout the duration of the 21-day experiment. They also visited the lab for daily electroencephalogram monitoring, a test that measures brain activity. Each day, participants completed a survey about mood and energy levels, and took an hour-long Stroop test, an evidence-based test that measures how quickly the brain processes information.
For the first four days, the study participants stuck to their regular routines. After that, researchers asked participants to cut back on their sleep by 30 percent for 10 days.
The researchers monitored participants sleep and wake cycles via the actigraphs to make sure they were sleeping the correct amount and werent napping during the day. After 10 days of sleep deprivation, the participants were allowed to sleep as much as they wanted for the following week .
The researchers found changes in behavior not just during the period of sleep deprivation, but during the recovery phase, too.
At baseline, the study participants scored an average of 97 percent on the Stroop test. As the test went on, their response times slowed by 4 percent.
Tips To Improve Sleep And Cognitive Performance
Anyone who feels that they are experiencing cognitive impairment or excessive daytime sleepiness that affects their thinking should talk with their doctor as a first step. A doctor can help identify or rule out any other conditions, including sleep disorders, that may be causing these symptoms. They can also discuss strategies for a plan to get better sleep.
Many approaches to improving sleep start with healthy sleep hygiene. By optimizing your bedroom environment and your everyday habits and routines, you can eliminate many common barriers to sleep. Setting a regular bedtime and sleep schedule, avoiding alcohol and caffeine in the evening, and minimizing electronics in the bedroom are a few examples of sleep hygiene tips that can make it easier to rest well every night.
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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.
What Are Our Brains Doing While We Sleep
Sleep serves many different functions. One of these is to help us remember experiences we had during the day. REM sleep is thought to be important for emotional memories or procedural memory . On the other hand, slow-wave sleep is thought to reflect the storing of so-called declarative memories, which are the conscious record of your experiences and what you know .
We also know experiences are replayed in the brain during sleep the memories of these experiences are like segments from a movie that can be rewound and played forward again. Replay occurs in neurons in the hippocampus a brain region important for memory and has been best studied in rats learning to navigate a maze. After a navigation exercise, when the rat is resting, its brain replays the path it took. This helps to strengthen the connections between brain cells, and is therefore thought to be important for consolidating memories.
But is it that important for you to remember what you had for breakfast? Probably not. Thats why the brain needs to be selective. Sleep allows it to sift through memories, forgetting certain things and prioritising whats important. One way it may do this is by pruning away or scaling down unwanted connections.
A leading theory of sleep function the synaptic homeostasis hypothesis suggests that during sleep there is a widespread weakening of synapses, the connections throughout the brain.
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Fees And Health Insurance
With health insurance, EEG is covered as long as it is deemed medically necessary and in accordance with the terms of your policy. Of course, you may have to incur a co-payment for surgery or doctor visits, especially if you dont meet your annual deductible.
The estimated national average cost for a sleep-deprived EEG is $930, however, costs may vary depending on where the procedure is performed, where you live, and other factors. In general, unlike standard EEGs, extended EEGs are priced between $200 and $800, possibly $1,000 to $3,000, or even more.
Some hospitals may offer discounts of up to 30% for patients who do not have health insurance or who purchase an EEG at their own expense. Be sure to ask. If this is an issue, try to verify your financial responsibility before the test.
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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What Lack Of Sleep Does To Your Mind
Sleepiness can damage your judgment, work performance, mood, and safety.
Do you often forget things that youâre sure you know? Is it hard to concentrate on complex assignments? Do you get less than six hours of sleep a night?
If so, youâre probably not getting enough sleep. Thatâs right lack of sleep can hinder you from thinking clearly and keeping your emotions at an even keel. Studies show that excessive sleepiness can hurt work performance, wreak havoc on relationships, and lead to mood problems like anger and depression.
Your Cognitive Performance Diminishes
You need sleep to recharge your brain. Being tired and not sleeping well disrupts genes that govern circadian rhythm, effectively reducing your ability to perform a task.
It also affects your memory and your ability to retain information. Lack of sleep reduces activity in your hippocampus the memory centre of the brain. So you might pull an all-nighter to study for an exam, but forget details on the day because your hippocampus didnt encode those memories.
Even one night of partial sleep deprivation impacts your executive functioning. In brief, sleep loss can impair attention and concentration, reducing your capacity for reasoning and problem solving.
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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.
How To Make Sure You Get The Best Nights Sleep
Luckily, there is lots of damage control you can do to make sure youre always getting the best sleep.
Get a Good Mattress
Old mattresses are the bane of a good nights sleep. Theyre uncomfortable and tend to be saggy in the middle so you toss and turn all night unable to fall asleep.
On top of that a saggy mattress can lead to all sorts of aches and pains, and waking up with morning back pain certainly isnt going to help anything. Thats why buying a quality mattress is important, itll make sure you have the right environment to sleep soundly through the night.
If You Find Yourself with a Busy Mind, Start a Journal
Journaling is one of the absolute best ways to clear your mind after a busy day. Any stresses that might be lingering can be poured out through your pen and onto the page. It might be a to-do list for tomorrow or the lyrics of a song that keeps floating around, it doesnt matter. Once its on paper, its out of your head.
Drink Water Before Bed
Water is the key to sleep because it helps your body cool down. Your body naturally cools down as you fall asleep, which is why being too hot keeps you awake. Drinking enough water ensures your bodys natural cooling system can work properly so you can cool down and fall asleep.
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Stage : After 24 Hours
Its common to miss 24 hours of sleep. It also wont cause major health problems, but you can expect to feel tired and off.
According to the , 24-hour sleep deprivation is the same as having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent. Thats higher than the limit to legally drive.
Staying awake for 24 hours may cause symptoms like:
Treatments For Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation treatments, including for people suffering from long-term issues, will vary from one person to the next. A doctor may recommend beginning with useful home strategies for healthier sleep. However, a doctor may also suggest medication.
A doctor may prescribe sleeping pills to help you get to sleep or remain asleep. Depending on the type of pills, risks differ. To provide you with sleeping pills, a doctor will typically ask you questions, discuss options, and make sure that you dont have underlying health issues. These medications may get prescribed for a limited time to assess the benefits and side effects.
Home care remedies
Generally, medical professionals view cognitive behavioral therapy as the best treatment for sleep deprivation. Some of these strategies include sleeping on a regular schedule and getting no more than eight hours of sleep. It may also include creating a relaxing sleep environment. A few tools to use for relaxation include dark window shades, soothing noise , or earplugs.
If its determined that sleep deprivation comes from stress, stress management strategies may help such as placing a pad of paper and pen at your bedside and noting everything on your mind before falling asleep.
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Too Little Sleep And Too Much Affect Memory
- By Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
When it comes to memory, sleep is a Goldilocks issue: both too much and too little arent good. Aim for “just right,” says a report from the Harvard-based Nurses Health Study.
“Our findings suggest that getting an average amount of sleep, seven hours per day, may help maintain memory in later life and that clinical interventions based on sleep therapy should be examined for the prevention of impairment,” said study leader Elizabeth Devore, an instructor in medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston.
A group of women taking part in the Nurses Health Study were asked about their sleep habits in 1986 and 2000, and were interviewed about memory and thinking skills three times over a later six-year period. Devore and her colleagues observed worse performance on brain testing among women who slept five hours or fewer per night or nine hours or more, compared with those getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Their findings were published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The researchers estimated that under-sleepers and over-sleepers were mentally two years older than the women who got seven to eight hours of shut-eye a night.
What Is A Sleep Deprivation Eeg Of A Seizure
A sleep-deprived EEG, or EEG, is a type of electroencephalogram that asks patients to get less sleep than usual before being tested. Like a standard EEG, this non-invasive test records electrical activity in the brain and can pick up abnormal brain waves through electrodes attached to the scalp.
Standard EEGs can detect seizures and diagnose epilepsy, but sleep-deprived EEGs may be better at detecting more subtle seizures, such as absence or focal seizures. Learn about sleep-deprived EEGs, their purpose in diagnosing seizures, potential risks and costs, and what to expect before, during, and after the test is done.
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You Will Have A Slower Reaction Time
All it takes is 19 hours of sleep before your accuracy and speed in reference to reaction times are impaired. So much so that your ability to react matches that of someone who is legally drunk. This is because your neural cells arent able to digest visual information like they could if they were well rested. Theyre tired too!
Mechanisms Behind Sleep Loss Effects
Some hypotheses are proposed to explain why cognitive performance is vulnerable to prolonged wakefulness. The theories can be divided roughly in two main approaches, in which SD is assumed to have general effects on alertness and attention, or selective effects on certain brain structures and functions. In addition, individual differences in the effects have been reported.
The general explanation relies on the two-process model of sleep regulation. Cognitive impairments would be mediated through decreased alertness and attention through lapses, slowed responses, and wake-state instability. Attentional lapses, brief moments of inattentiveness, have been considered the main reason for the decrease in cognitive performance during sleep deprivation . The lapses are caused by microsleeps characterized by very short periods of sleep-like electro-encephalography activity . Originally, it was thought that in between the lapses, cognitive performance almost remained intact, but the slowing of cognitive processing has also been observed independent of lapsing . According to these hypotheses, performance during SD would most likely deteriorate in long, simple, and monotonous tasks requiring reaction speed or vigilance. In addition to the lapses and response slowing, considerable fluctuations in alertness and effort have been observed during SD. According to the wake-state instability hypothesis, those fluctuations lead to variation in performance .
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