Your body needs sleep to function at its best. Sleep deprivation occurs when a person gets less sleep than they need or their quality of sleep is reduced. What constitutes a perfect sleep is difficult to determine as people’s sleep needs vary. Eight hours of sleep per night may be necessary for some people, whereas others can function on less.
Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
Before identifying sleep deprivation as a problem, it's important to note that sleep deprivation can range from being acute and short term, to being chronic and occurring over months or years. Some of the common symptoms of sleep deprivation include sleepiness during the day, difficulty concentrating, irritability and mood changes, cravings for sweet, salty and starchy foods, memory issues, depression and high blood pressure. Treatment for the condition is complex as factors such as severity and cause must be carefully assessed.
Sleep Deprivation and Your Body
Poor sleep quality has been linked to various health problems, and lack of sleep puts our physical and mental health at risk. Underlying health issues, like sleep apnea, can also contribute to poor sleep. No matter the cause, sleep deprivation is known to have a negative effect on various body systems. When sleep deprived:
The brain becomes unable to perform due to exhaustion. Concentration becomes difficult and coordination is affected. The risk for having accidents increases, particularly when driving.
- The immune system becomes weakened and it takes longer to recover from illness. You are more at risk for conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Sleep deprivation disrupts the body’s sleep-wake cycle, and can affect hormones regulating growth, appetite, metabolism, stress and the immune system. The levels of leptin and ghelin in your body are affected and you may become prone to overeating. A higher BMI also puts you at higher risk for developing conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea.
- You can become more vulnerable to respiratory infections such as the cold or flu.
- Sleep affects processes that keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. Sleep deprivation can affect blood sugar, blood pressure and inflammation levels.
In addition to the physical effects of sleep deprivation, there are psychological issues that can develop. People can become more at risk for developing a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety.
Advice for Getting a Better Sleep
The perfect treatment for sleep deprivation is getting a good night’s sleep. Consistency and repetition can help you create a more healthy sleep pattern, and there are also practices you can incorporate into your nighttime routine.
Our top tips for a better night’s rest:
- Turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary free from all electronic devices such as televisions, phones or laptops. Your body should recognize the bedroom as a place of rest. While it may be tempting to scroll through your social media feed before bed, resist the urge!
- Nap during the day only as necessary as this can disrupt your sleep at night.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol particularly before going to bed.
- Try to exercise regularly - just not before bed!
- Set your bedroom temperature at around 20 degrees celsius which is conducive to getting a comfortable sleep.
If issues with your sleep persists, seek professional advice to find a solution.
If you would like to take a sleep test with Careica Health, book your appointment here.