Causes and Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

Published: 05th May 2009
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We need 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily. However, we neglect the precious sleeping time and are busy burning midnight oil on things we think are more important. When a person does not have quality sleep for a sufficient period, it can cause sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation can result in depression, anxiety, increased stress, irritation and many other negative consequences. So, if you find yourself drowsy and have a hard time fighting off sleep during the day, its time to get proper sleep

As per the research study published in British journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, people without sleep for 17 to 19 hours are worse than people who were drunk. Sleep deprivation, if it is consistent and chronic, can lead to loss of judgment, loss of reasoning, confusion etc.

Causes of Sleep Deprivation :
Many of us do not get quality sleep to meet the demands of our busy lifestyle. To balance the work and other activities, we tend to sacrifice the sleeping time. Here are some of the causes of sleep deprivation:
  • Sleeping disorders

  • Working during the night and traveling

  • Medical illnesses

  • Disturbance from noise, light etc.

  • Depression, excessive worry

Sleeping Disorders which Cause Sleeplessness :

Here are the common disorders which cause sleeplessness:
  • Obstructive Sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea is caused when a person is unable to breathe properly due to obstruction of the nose or throat. This can be caused due to enlarged tonsils, deviated septum etc.

  • Narcolepsy: A chronic sleeping disorder which is characterized by excessive day time sleepiness
    Nocturnal mycoclonus: Nocturnal mycoclonus causes jerking of legs while sleeping. This causes brief awakening during the night resulting in daytime sleepiness and insomnia

Consequences of Sleep Deprivation:

Psychological Effects: Lack of sleep can cause both short-term and long-term effects. The initial effects of sleep deprivation are drowsiness, memory loss, and irritability. In case of chronic sleep deprivation, a person may experience blurry vision, loss of judgment, and inability to concentrate. Continual sleep deprivation can also cause severe mental effects such as hallucinations, mania, and nausea

Sleeplessness not only puts you at an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, work accidents, but it can also decrease your work productivity. Irritability, anxiety can in turn cause problems in your social life.

Physiological Effects: Sleep deprivation can also cause severe health problems. When people do not sleep properly for several months, they can develop diabetes type 2. Many studies have even linked lack of sleep to obesity. Other health consequences of sleep deprivation are depression, heart problems, high blood pressure etc.

How to Ensure Proper Sleep:
To get proper sleep, about 7 to 8 hours a day, you should take some steps:

  • Have a regular sleeping pattern i.e. sleep and wake up at the same time every day

  • Make sure your bedroom is conducive for sleep by cutting off noise, light while sleeping

  • Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks, soft drinks or eating food just before bedtime

  • Keep the temperature of your bedroom conducive for sleeping, not too warm or cool

  • Have a warm bath, listen to music which can help you sleep

If you are sleepy during the day, try taking short naps, but do not make this a habit as napping during the day can make sleeping difficult at night. If you are unable to sleep, consult your doctor as you could be suffering from a sleeping disorder.

To find out more about Amitabh's work and read articles written by him visit his Insomnia Website.

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