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What Causes Chronic Sleep Deprivation

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What Are The Causes Of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep Deprivation Causes

Problems with the amount and quality of sleep are rarely black and white. Each individual case is different and there is a wide range of causes that can lead to long term sleep deprivation. The most common difficulties can be broken up into two major categories.

External Causes of Sleep Deprivation

This type of problem involves stress, diet, and the surrounding sleep environment. Stress is something that most people are all too familiar with. Too much stress during the day can carry over to the night and lead to poor sleep. Worries and anxiety about the upcoming day or serious deadlines are also very common.

Drugs and alcohol can also cause sleep deprivation. The misconception that alcohol will actually help you sleep may hold true for initially getting to bed, but it also destroys the quality of your sleep. The effect is very similar actually to that of a sleeping disorder. Other things like drug withdrawal can just as easily lead to long term sleep deprivation.

A poor sleeping environment can detract from the hours you actually do spend sleeping. Extraneous noise, light, or heat, are all factors that can disrupt your ability to get to and stay asleep. Problems related to chronic pain can sometimes cause discomfort that eventually becomes an irritant leading to sleep loss.

Internal Causes of Sleep Deprivation: Sleeping Disorders

Different Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

Someone experiencing sleep deprivation might be aware of the following symptoms:

What Are The Risk Factors For Insomnia

Insomnia occurs more often in women than in men. Pregnancy and hormonal shifts can disturb sleep. Other hormonal changes, such as premenstrual syndrome or menopause, can also can affect sleep. Insomnia becomes more common over the age of 60. Older people may be less likely to sleep soundly because of bodily changes related to aging and because they may have medical conditions or take medications that disturb sleep.

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Help Treat Insomnia

Research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy works as well as prescription medicine for many people who have chronic or long-term insomnia. CBT helps you change thoughts and actions that may get in the way of sleep.

This type of therapy is also used to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. For success with CBT, you may need to see a therapist weekly for two months or more. CBT may involve:

  • Keeping a diary to track your sleep
  • Replacing negative thoughts about sleep with positive thinking. This includes linking being in bed to being asleep and not to the problems you have falling asleep.
  • Talking with a therapist alone or in group sessions. This can help you identify and change any unhelpful thoughts and behaviors about sleep.
  • Learning .

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But What Is Chronic Sleep Deprivation

In simple words not getting enough sleep over a prolonged period of time can turn into chronic sleep deprivation. This condition may be caused if either youre dealing with depression, anxiety, and any other related disorder or it may be related to some underlying medical condition.

Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on the different aspects of your life such as personal life, professional life, or your day-to-day activities.

Treatment Options For Sleep Deprivation

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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

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Strategies For Special Groups

Some people have schedules that conflict with their internal body clocks. For example, shift workers and teens who have early school schedules may have trouble getting enough sleep. This can affect how they feel mentally, physically, and emotionally.

If youre a shift worker, you may find it helpful to:

  • Take naps and increase the amount of time available for sleep
  • Keep the lights bright at work
  • Limit shift changes so your body clock can adjust
  • Limit caffeine use to the first part of your shift
  • Remove sound and light distractions in your bedroom during daytime sleep

If youre still not able to fall asleep during the day or have problems adapting to a shift-work schedule, talk with your doctor about other options to help you sleep.

When possible, employers and schools might find it helpful to consider options to address issues related to sleep deficiency.

Please take the sleep disorder screening test to help point yourself in the right direction and seek further education.

How Is Insomnia Diagnosed

There is no specific test to diagnose insomnia. Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions to learn more about your sleep problems and symptoms. The key information for the diagnosis of insomnia is reviewing your sleep history with your doctor. Your provider will also review your medical history and medications you are taking to see if they may be affecting your ability to sleep. You may also:

  • Get a blood test: Your doctor may want you do a blood test to rule out certain medical conditions such as thyroid problems or low iron levels that can negatively impact sleep.
  • Keep a sleep diary: You may be asked to write down your sleep patterns for one to two weeks This information can help your provider identify patterns or behaviors that interfere with rest.
  • Complete a sleep study:Sleep studies are not necessary for diagnosing insomnia. If your doctor has concerns that your insomnia may be caused by sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, you may be referred. You may go to a sleep disorders center or do the study at home.

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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.

Weight Gain Or Weight Loss

The Effects of Chronic Sleep Deprivation: Why We Shouldnt Run a Sleep Debt

When rats were exposed to prolonged sleep deprivation the result was that both food intake and energy expenditure increased, resulting in a net weight loss, and ultimately leading to death. The hypothesis of this study is that when moderate chronic sleep debt goes hand-in-hand with habitual short sleep, energy expenditure and increased appetite are encouraged; and, in societies where high-calorie food is freely available the equation is tipped towards food intake rather than expenditure. Nationally representative samples used in several large studies suggest that one of the causes of the United States obesity problem could possibly be due to the corresponding decrease in the average number of hours that people sleep.

These findings indicate that the hormones that regulate appetite and glucose metabolism could be disrupted because of sleep deprivation. It appears that the association between obesity and sleep deprivation is strongest in young and middle-age adults. On the other hand, there are scientists who believe that related problems, such as sleep apnea, together with the physical discomfort of obesity, reduce a persons likelihood of getting a good nights sleep.

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How To Prevent And Treat Sleep Deprivation

If you have ongoing or worsening problems with insufficient sleep or daytime sleepiness, working with your doctor is a good first step to getting relief. Your doctor can assess your situation and recommend treatment that best suits your needs.

In most cases, a focus on sleep hygiene your sleep environment and daily habits is a central component of preventing and treating sleep deprivation. The following sections outline some key sleep hygiene improvements for people who get insufficient sleep.

Strategies For Getting Enough Sleep

You can take steps to improve your sleep habits. First, make sure that you allow yourself enough time to sleep. With enough sleep each night, you may find that youre happier and more productive during the day.

Sleep often is the first thing that busy people squeeze out of their schedules. Making time to sleep will help you protect your health and well-being now and in the future.

To improve your sleep habits, it also may help to:

Napping during the day may provide a boost in alertness and performance. However, if you have trouble falling asleep at night, limit naps or take them earlier in the afternoon. Adults should nap for no more than 20 minutes.

Napping in preschool-aged children is normal and promotes healthy growth and development.

For more information about healthy sleep habits, go to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institutes Your Guide to Healthy Sleep.

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Sleep Deprivation Increases Pain Perception In Your Brain And Spinal Cord

When you dont get good quality sleeps on a regular basis, changes in your nerves that are involved with pain become more sensitive.  00259-5/fulltext” rel=”nofollow”>9)  This increases your chances of experiencing pain more regularly.   This could mean you get recurrent low back pain, migraines, or chronic pain like fibromyalgia.

Customize Your Bedroom Environment

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Design your bedroom environment to be ideal for your relaxation. Youre less likely to avoid going to bed if your sleep setting is inviting and suits your comfort preferences.

Your mattress and pillows should offer plenty of support, and your bedding should help you feel cozy while maintaining a moderate temperature. To minimize potential sleep disruptions, try to make sure your bedroom is as quiet and dark as possible.

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Make The Most Of The Day

Getting frequent sunlight exposure during the day supports a healthy circadian rhythm that helps you be alert during the day and sleepy at night. Regular physical activity can also contribute to a normal sleep schedule, so try to engage in at least moderate exercise every day.

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Address Sleep Deprivation Dont Cope With It

Many people get insufficient sleep because they accept sleep deprivation as normal. Rather than take the necessary steps to sleep more, they drink caffeine or energy drinks, nap, or simply try to power through.

None of these approaches is a sustainable solution to sleep deprivation. They may help get through the day, but the cumulative effects of sleep deficiency will still take a toll both in the short- and long-term.

For this reason, it is important to refuse to accept a lack of sleep as normal and instead focus on sleeping more and getting higher quality rest.

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Symptoms Of Chronic Sleep Deprivation:

If youre an insomniac or work late-night shifts, then you must be familiar with sleep deprivation. Many people dont realize that sleep deprivation can turn into a chronic condition if left undiagnosed and untreated for a long time.

The symptoms for chronic sleep deprivation can look like this:

  • Dark circle under the eyes
  • Trouble concentrating while driving
  • Not being able to keep your eyes open
  • Irritability
  • Not having enough energy to perform your daily activities
  • Feeling sleepy during work hours/daytime
  • Trouble focusing on your tasks
  • Waking up cranky
  • Consuming alcohol, caffeine, or caffeine-related products before bed
  • More screen time before bed

If you or your loved one shows signs and symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation, then you should ask for help from a professional. There are various tests that can help you figure out your sleep disorder and the reasons for sleep deprivation.

The Relationship Between Sleep And Health

The 7 Causes of Adrenal Fatigue – Sleep Deprivation, Chronic Stress & More Dr.Berg

Not getting enough sleep can have profound consequences on a daily and potentially long-term basis for your health and mental well-being.

We all have some sense of the relationship between sleep and our ability to function throughout the day. After all, everyone has experienced the fatigue, bad mood, or lack of focus that so often follow a night of poor sleep. What many people do not realize is that a lack of sleepespecially on a regular basisis associated with long-term health consequences, including chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and that these conditions may lead to a shortened life expectancy. Additional research studies show that habitually sleeping more than nine hours is also associated with poor health.

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Sleep Deprivation Suppresses Your Immune System And Increases Inflammation In Your Body

Your immune system needs to be functioning at peak level for you to heal and repair properly.  Sleep deprivation can cause chronic pain because it suppresses your immune system.  You cant heal well and your body cant repair injured tissue well when you arent getting good sleep.

Furthermore, sleep deprivation increases inflammation in your body.   Inflammation irritates the nerves in your joints and muscles causing painful joint and muscle pain.

What Does Acute Sleep Deprivation Cause

After a long sleepless night or on repeated sleepless nights some consequences are experienced. When one does not get the required amount of sleep for a night or a few nights the following are observed:

  • Fatigue and increased sleepiness

After a few nights of lack of the required sleep the following may be observed:

  • Hallucinations
  • Memory lapses
  • Delusional thinking

The symptoms are as a result of lack of progress in the sleep stages to the deep sleep compounded with the lack of enough sleep. The deep sleep stage is the most rejuvenating stage of sleep and helps the individual to wake up feeling alert and focused.

This explains why after spending a night without sleeping in preparation for an exam is counter-productive. Deep sleep solidifies memories that were picked during the day thus helping people remember.

With enough sleep the acute sleep deprivation symptoms are relieved. The symptoms however will progress to the chronic sleep deprivation if not treated or controlled.

Also Check: What Does Sleep Apnea Mean

Avoid Things That Can Interfere With Sleep

A useful step in addressing sleep deprivation is to avoid things that can, often unbeknownst to you, negatively affect your sleep:

  • Electronic devices: TVs, cell phones, tablets, and computers can keep your mind stimulated, leaving you still wired when you want to go to bed. The light emitted by these devices can also interfere with your circadian rhythm. As a result, its best to avoid using electronic devices for an hour or more before bed.
  • Alcohol: Drinking, especially at night, can disrupt your normal sleep cycle, reducing overall sleep quality and consistency.
  • Caffeine: As a stimulant, caffeine makes you alert, and because it can stick around in your system for several hours, its best to avoid it in the afternoon and evening.
  • Naps: To keep naps from interfering with sleep at night, keep them short and never take them in the late afternoon or later. If you are struggling with insomnia, its best to avoid naps altogether.

How Is Insomnia Treated


If your insomnia is caused by a short-term change in your sleep/wake schedule, such as with jet lag, your sleep schedule will probably return to normal on its own.

Chronic or long-term insomnia can be treated with , , and .

If insomnia is a symptom or side effect of another health problem, your doctor may recommend treating the other health problem at the same time. When the other health problem is treated, secondary insomnia often goes away on its own. For example, if menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, are keeping you awake, your doctor might try treating your hot flashes first. Research suggests that older women who use hormone replacement therapy, eat healthy foods based on a Mediterranean diet, and limit how much caffeine and alcohol they drink may have fewer sleep problems than women who did not do those things.

Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have symptoms of insomnia, and ask about the best ways to treat insomnia.

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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.

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

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What Is Chronic Sleep Deprivation

In the simplest terms, chronic sleep deprivation refers to the case of getting insufficient sleep or experiencing sleeplessness over an extended period of time. Chronic sleep deprivation can vary in its severity.

Chronic sleep deprivation may be primary or secondary, meaning that it could be a problem in and of itself or caused by some other unrelated issue .

Accumulated sleep debt can lead to impairments in all areas of your life, and fixing the problem can be difficult depending on the cause. That being said, there are steps you can take to cope with sleep deprivation and ensure it does not lead to more serious issues.

Hormone Changes In Sleep Deprivation Impact Weight Thyroid Function

Effects of Sleep Deprivation – Why Sleep Deprivation Causes Weight Gain and Diabetes

Sleep deprivation can have significant and important effects on the secretion of hormones from endocrine glands, especially those that follow a circadian pattern. A classic example includes the effect of sleep loss or disruption in children and the impact on growth. Growth hormone is secreted during slow-wave sleep, which is more common in the early part of the night in children. When this sleep is disrupted, either through inadequate sleep or from disorders such as sleep apnea, the amount of growth hormone released is compromised. As a result, children may not reach their full growth potential, becoming shorter than they otherwise would have been.

Sleep deprivation also seems to affect the activity of the thyroid gland. It is thought that the increased energy needs while staying awake for too long demand more work from the thyroid.

Fortunately, studies also suggest that many other hormones do not seem to be affected by sleep deprivation, including:

  • Cortisol
  • Testosterone
  • Progesterone

This may provide you some relief, but there is still a risk of major health effects from not getting enough sleep.

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How Long Does It Take To Recover

Its possible to recover from sleep deprivation by sleeping more.

You can start by going to bed early rather than sleeping in late. Its also a good idea to get at least 7 to 8 hours of rest each night. This will help your body get back on schedule.

It can take days or weeks to recover from a bout of sleep deprivation. Just 1 hour of sleep loss requires 4 days to recover.

The longer youve been awake, the longer it will take to get back on track.

Deterrence And Patient Education

The best preventive treatment is patient education. Once a person understands the importance and methods of quality sleep, rest will most likely become a higher priority. Patient education should include proper sleep hygiene and other common causes of poor sleep. It is crucial to assess the patient’s current sleep habits and identify what they are doing right and areas where they can improve. Encourage a healthy lifestyle, which will result in better overall health, which will lessen the chances the patient will develop medical conditions that will affect sleep.

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The Causes Behind Chronic Sleep Deprivation Symptoms

October 25, 2019, 6:55 am3.9k Views

Getting the recommended six to nine hours of sleep a night is critical to maintaining a healthy physical and mental condition. Todays population is getting less sleep than ever due to busy schedules, deadlines, and also sleep disorders. It can be hard to figure out whether or not you have a sleep problem. Some symptoms of insomnia, like being unable to fall asleep or waking up frequently are noticeable first hand, but other disturbances can only be diagnosed through a study.

Most patients will question the need for such a study because they dont understand either what is being tested or how the results will lead to a diagnosis. A sleep study is really just a measure of a persons sleep patterns. Studies are normally done for a single night, but in some cases, an extended study might be necessary. Doctors conducting sleep studies are interested in monitoring the bodys vital signs during normal sleep.

The Benefits of a Sleep Study

Signs of Sleeping Disorders

While it might be impossible to determine whether or not you have a sleeping disorder from symptoms alone, there are some common problems that those getting poor-quality sleep will share. The following are a couple of common symptoms that patients with sleeping disorders will often display.

What Will the Results of a Sleep Study Show?

Causes Or Sources Of Sleep Deprivation

Chronic Sleep Deprivation Causes The Brain To Literally ...

In the video above, Dr. Artour Rakhimov talks about artificial sleep deprivation techniques used by national security agents from CSIS , FBI, MI5, and so forth.

My 2017 video series with Chris Prokop were about breathing retraining and the Buteyko method. We created this series with him in GTA during January of 2017. There were some details about breathing and sleep in these videos, but not specifically about effects of extreme or chronic sleep deprivation.

One may notice that my performance in these videos was miserable. I looked very tired, exhausted and worn out. To understand details of my mental and physiological state during this video series, one can simple take any of these videos and then stop the screen and see my facial expressions.

During the first day of this video series, as many as 1/3 or up to 30-40% of time my eyers were closed. In the past, I did not know about this effect of sleep deprivation . I discovered this effect when editing my videos and relating my quality of sleep to what I see in raw video files.

Since for many years, our students were asking me about my health, here are practical results that relate to about 20 years of chronic sleep deprivation. I was not continuously deprived of sleep, but possibly about 20-30% of time at lest, or even up 50% of total time. That is about 10 years of sleep deprivation in total.

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