Sleep Deprivation

By Seth Randell

What is sleep deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is the condition of not having enough sleep, it can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain. It adversely affects the brain and cognitive function.

What can sleep deprivation cause?

Causes accidents

Studies show that sleep loss and poor-quality sleep also lead to accidents and injuries on the job. In one study, workers who complained about excessive daytime sleepiness had significantly more work accidents, particularly repeated work accidents. They also had more sick days per accident.

Sleep Loss Dumbs You Down

Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes in many ways. First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently.

Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Serious Health Problems

Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

According to some estimates, 90% of people with insomnia, a sleep disorder characterized by trouble falling and staying asleep, also have another health condition.

Can lead to depression

Over time, lack of sleep and sleep disorders can contribute to the symptoms of depression. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night.

Sleepiness Makes You Forgetful

In 2009, American and French researchers determined that brain events called “sharp wave ripples” are responsible for consolidating memory. The ripples also transfer learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain, where long-term memories are stored. Sharp wave ripples occur mostly during the deepest levels of sleep.

How can we stop sleep depression?

In some cases, sleep problems are related to preventable health conditions, such as obesity. Addressing such conditions may help prevent sleep problems. For example, experts think that weight loss may help overweight people who have obstructive sleep apnea. Other times, lifestyle modifications may be needed to prevent a sleep disorder from developing. For example, exercising and maintaining a healthy diet can help ward off sleep problems.Other sleep problems can be avoided by practicing good sleep habits, called sleep hygiene. Below are some suggestions for better sleep:

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