Learn more about sleep deprivation, its effects and how to avoid it.
Sleep is one of the most vital body functions without which we can’t exist. Many take sleep for granted, but lack of sleep or sleep deprivation can cause damage to body organs to an unimaginable level. There are legitimate diseases that cause lack of sleep like insomnia, but most often, our lifestyle causes sleep deprivation. Sleep is more important in its physiological aspect. Scientists still can’t figure out why we need sleep. But we do know that it isn’t switching off body functions, rather renewing and consolidating experiences and memories. Circadian cycle– a regular 24-hour pattern of our body function- control our sleep. The ‘biological clock’ is responsible for regularity in sleeping time, wakeup time etc. Any disruption in the clock timings can disrupt sleep; jet lag is an example of the same.
The amount of sleep differs for different age groups. A newborn baby needs to sleep at least 14-17 hours a day.- In the pre-school age, 10-13 hours of sleep is required. As teenage enters, the sleep of 8-10 hours is enough. An adult needs an average of 7-9 hours a day. Some split the sleep to 6-7 hours at night and 1-2 hours in the daytime. Some people can naturally survive with 6 hours of sleep per day according to their metabolic rates. Each person needs different levels of sleep. That is why it is not advisable to compare your sleeping pattern with another. Sleep is for rejuvenation. It is up to you to decide the time you need to sleep.
After sleep, you must be able to wake up with energy for the day. If you don’t have the energy to get out of bed and the whole day goes dizzy, you know you are sleep deprived. Your metabolism will be slow and you even have those ‘micro-sleeps’ where you pass out for a moment or two. Being able to sleep within 5 minutes at any time of the day probably indicate that you are sleep deprived. Such persons will have poor hand-eye coordination and in worst cases, even hallucinate.
Many sleeping disorders cause sleep deprivation. They are biological diseases and can be treated.
It is the difficulty in falling asleep. Studies say that almost 30%-50% of the general population has milder insomnia. However, approximately 10% suffers from chronic insomnia.
Sleep maintenance insomnia is the condition where people can fell asleep, but wake up at regular intervals.
is another common sleeping disorder where there is not enough airflow while sleeping. Usually seen in obese individuals, The person feels a choking.
When above mentioned are sleeping disorders, which can be diagnosed and treated, there are some lifestyle factors that affect sleep.
While everyone assumes, alcohol consumption makes sleep easier, it isn’t so. The ‘passing out’ isn’t same as natural sleep and obviously not a healthy sleep habit. In later stages, along with the disruption of all other body functions, sleeping deprivation will also happen
Having caffeine before bedtime, junk foods etc. can affect sleep.
The blue light from digital gadgets can make take away your sleep. Apart from the hazards that it will cause to your eyes, using electronic gadgets before bedtime can create a hard time to sleep. So the ‘just one more episode/video’ attitude of yours can cost you your health.
It is the most common reason for sleep deprivation. Stress from work, studies, home or any stress for that matter can affect your sleep. Also, it affects body vitals like blood pressure, heart rate etc. making it more difficult to sleep
Many people, especially the corporates, have the tendency to work overnight and sacrifice the sleep. These people bring work home or stay in the office with the help of a cup of coffee. But gradually it will cause sleep deprivation. Some people have shift works. Working an overnight shift and not getting enough sleep during daytime affect the sleeping pattern and thus deteriorate the health.
For a physical condition like insomnia, you need proper diagnosis and treatment. Otherwise, you can develop a better sleeping habit by making slight changes in lifestyle
Avoid caffeinated or carbonated drinks before bed. Try to eat at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. Going to bed right after food can also cause digestive issues. Avoid junk foods, oily foods etc.
As mentioned, our biological clock controls sleep time. Hence, it is important to follow a time routine for sleep, bedtime, wake-up time etc. It is advisable to follow the same during weekends also, although you can have a little bit of relaxation on schedule.
Your room must be devoid of clutter to have a good night sleep. Look for noises and other disturbances. Sleeping without light is advisable. If that is not possible, try blindfolds and earplugs to avoid light and noise disturbance. You should also avoid white noise as possible.
Check the beds and pillow. Choose a mattress and pillows that is comfortable for you. The average life expectancy of a standard mattress is 9-10 years.
Digital gadgets can affect your sleep to a high level. Turn off your digital gadgets (mobile phone, laptops, kindle etc.) at least half an hour before going to bed. The blue light won’t let you sleep. You can read books for a while, but make sure you are not straining your eyes too much.
Exercising can help you to fall asleep. Even mild exercises like walking are a lot better than no physical activities. But it mustn’t take up the time to sleep. Group games or sports can help you in reducing stress and be happy.
If you have difficulty in falling asleep, you should avoid daytime naps, even the smaller ones. Power nap helps you to stay productive during the daytime, but it isn’t advisable when you have sleep deprivation.
There may be various reasons for stress. Losing out your sleep can’t make it better but worse. It is important to maintain a healthy work-life-family balance. Spending some time with the family and having fun can reduce stress and helps you to sleep better. Your work, achievements, and bonuses aren’t worth if you have poor health and can’t enjoy it. Meditation and Yoga can help you to reduce stress and be calm.
After following the above points, if you still don’t get enough sleep, try to contact a psychiatrist for help.
Sleep deprivation can cause many fatal diseases and disorder of the bodily function. Any machine that works continuously need to be stopped for a while and maintained. Our body that works without interruption needs much more. Never take the sleep for granted. Sleep deprivation can make other diseases worse like diabetes, blood pressure, cardiac diseases and deteriorate the overall health of the body. Sleep is as important as any other functions of a body. So go to bed happily and have a happy life!
I hope this article helped you understand more about Sleep deprivation and tip to avoid it.
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