Just like water and food, sleep is also an essential part of human life. But unfortunately, not everyone can get enough sleep due to shifts, workloads and other things. Insufficient sleep always leads to consequences including how our brain functions.Â
Lately, sleep deprivation is shortening the lives of millions of people. A sleepy person is more likely to meet with an accident and make bad decisions. Sleep deprivation reduces the coordination of hands and eyes, the condition is quite similar to being high on alcohol.Â
Not only this, but many countries also suffer from high economic loss due to tired employees. Japan suffers a loss of $138 billion whereas the USA is also losing an estimated $411 billion annually. Moreover, sleep deprivation is associated with countless negative outcomes.Â
Here, we will discuss all the important points about sleep deprivation and its effect and how to fix it. Let's start with knowing about sleep deprivation first.
What is sleep deprivation?
Sleep deprivation means getting less amount of sleep than needed. For adults, the average sleep needed is eight to nine hours whereas infants and children need even more sleep.Â
If you get less sleep than this, you will end up developing many health issues. The problems may include being tired, a weak immune system, reduction in productivity and quality of work. It can also sabotage a children's school performance.Â
The disruption of the sleep-wake cycle can cause fatigue. A fatigued person is dangerous for society and himself as well. However, the effects of sleep deprivation in children are different from adults.Â
The worst part about sleep deprivation is its long term effects. It drains your mental ability and puts your health at risk.
Remember, just like sleep requirements depend on age, the effects of sleep deprivation are also different from person to person depending on their age. Children suffering from sleep deprivation tend to speed up rather than slow down.Â
Well, here are some symptoms of sleep deprivation in adults and children.Â
Symptoms in adults
- Bad concentration and decrease in productivity.
- Forgetfulness and mood swings.
- Constant yawning throughout the day.
- Itchiness and redness in eyes.
- Slow work speed.
- Lack of physical strength.
Symptoms in children
- Irritating behaviour.
- Bad temper.
- Grogginess when they wake up in the morning.
- Short naps while studying or watching television.
- High in emotions.
- Change in behaviour.
- Poor concentration
Causes of sleep deprivation
The overall time of sleep deprivation varies from person to person and their circumstances. In some, it is usually for a few days only while in others it may last for four to five months. Some people also suffer from constant sleep deprivation due to age and other reasons.Â
Though sleep deprivation is not a specific disease, instead it is a consequence of certain diseases and circumstances. No matter what happens, sleep is always sacrificed in any situation.Â
Sleep deprivation is becoming very common day by day. So, let's have a look at the main reasons that are causing sleep deprivation in both adults and children.Â
- Ageing: As people age, they tend to sleep less due to medications and other health issues they are dealing with.Â
- Occasional sleep deprivation: It specifically happens for some reasons that include a change in schedule, change in place, a crying baby, function etc.Â
- Uncomfortable bed: The bed plays an important role in the quality and quantity of sleep. If the bed is comfortable, you will sleep peacefully without any uneasiness.Â
- Illnesses: It can be anything fever, headache, cold, depression, body pain or anything that is causing discomfort.Â
- Workload: Pressure of work is the main reason in many adults that is causing sleep deprivation.Â
In a nutshell, sleep deprivation is caused by several factors including sleeping disorders and low quality of sleep. When you don't get enough sleep, your brain and body won't function properly. While sleeping, your body heals and restores its balance to prepare itself for the next day.
How to catch up on lost sleep?
Have you ever wondered if you can somehow make it up to the lost sleep? Well, the answer is simply Yes. Sleep hygiene is very essential for overall health and one must need to prioritise sleep to take care of the body. Getting enough sleep is an act of self-care.Â
For many people, getting 8 or 9 hours of sleep is a real challenge. And since it leads to very serious consequences, you must want to know how to catch up on the lost sleep.Â
What is a sleep deficit?
Sleep deficit also known as sleep debt is a term that refers to the amount of sleep you need to catch up on. For example: if you need to sleep for 8 hours and you have slept for only 5 hours then you have three hours of sleep debt. Good thing is that it can be recovered. If for the next few days you will sleep for an extra one hour, it will quickly add up.Â
Now, you must be thinking that now you can easily make up for the lost sleep on weekends. But you are wrong. As when you sleep for very long hours on Saturday, you will struggle to get your bedtime routine straight on Sunday. And hence, the sleep deficit continues to the next weekend and so on.Â
Constantly losing sleep will cause several health problems. Don't worry because here are a few tips to catch up on the lost sleep. Have a look:
- Take a nap in the afternoon.
- Sleep for an extra one or two hours on the weekends. Not more than that.Â
- Go to bed earlier.
- Avoid caffeine.
- A quick 10 to 20 minutes of naps during the day will make you feel refreshed.Â
Though sleeping for extra hours in the morning may help you a little, according to research, it may take up to four to five days to recover from one hour of lost sleep. However, a full recovery from sleep debt returns the body to its normal condition and also reduces the risk associated with sleep deprivation.Â
So, anytime you feel tired in the morning, just know that you are not ready to continue your day ahead. It's better to improve your sleep rather than forcing yourself to take on a new routine with any energy and motivation.
Health risks of not getting enough sleep
Just suppose you are doing regular exercises and eating healthy food, living a hygienic life but you are not getting enough sleep. Trust me, it all goes in vain. Experts say sleep is a crucial part of our health and still many of us are lacking in it.Â
Sleep deprivation can affect your physical and mental health in ways you have never imagined. Read on to see how it affects your body functions and health.
While sleeping, our immune system prepares infection-fighting substances like antibodies and cytokines that help us combat disease-causing bacteria and viruses. And lack of sleep prevents your immune system from building the force. Hence, your body will not be able to fight foreign invaders and you will not recover from an illness.
Central nervous system
The central nervous system is the main part that carries information. To keep it functioning properly, good sleep is very important. Because when you sleep, a pathway is formed between the nerve cells in your brain. It helps you remember things but if you don't get enough sleep, your brain gets exhausted and will not function the way it should. Due to this, you may also find it difficult to concentrate due to the delay in signals.Â
If you do not get enough sleep at night, you will be more vulnerable to respiratory diseases such as the common cold, flu. It can even worsen the existing respiratory diseases such as lung illness, throat infection etc.Â
Leads to obesity
The hormones leptin and ghrelin get affected by sleep deprivation. They are responsible for controlling hunger and promoting the feeling of fullness. Without enough sleep, the level of leptin hormone reduces and ghrelin rises. Which results in nighttime snacking and hence leads to obesity and being overweight. And as you are physically weak due to sleep deprivation, you will also not be able to burn calories.Â
Increased risk of heart attack
Sleep deprivation also affects the process that keeps the blood vessels and arteries healthy. And your body's ability to repair the blood vessels and heart reduces which increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases including heart attack and stroke. It may also lead to high blood pressure and higher levels of chemicals linked to inflammation, both of which can increase the risk of heart diseases.Â
High blood pressure
Lack of sleep results in the release of less insulin (insulin helps to reduce blood sugar levels). It also reduces the body tolerance for glucose and it can lead to type 2 diabetes.Â
Last but not the least, sleep deprivation affects mental health and emotion. People who suffer from depression have very bad and irregular sleeping habits. So, not getting enough sleep can increase the symptoms of depression and emotional imbalance.Â
Moreover, the only way to prevent these problems is to get an adequate amount of sleep at night regularly. And don't forget that sleep quality also matters. As bad sleep quality can also increase the risk of all the health problems mentioned above.
Costs for employers
We live in a world where we think that the more we work the more money we can make. Well, it is not completely true. Employers often want their workers to work as much as they can so that the company will grow. According to research, people who are suffering from insomnia or sleeping disorders have missed work for an extra five days compared to good sleepers.Â
Tiredness can lead to mistakes and poor working ability that contributes to poor performance at the office. A study shows fatigued employees are costing a company $1960 per worker per year. It happens because sleep deprivation makes the immune system weak and makes you ill. It results in a higher number of absences that affects the growth of a business.Â
Due to the lack of concentration, employees are also likely to get injured at work. It may cost employees a thousand dollars in worker's compensation claims. And other losses associated with the incident.
Costs for employees
If an employee is suffering from sleeping disorders, he is more likely to make mistakes at the workplace and could end up losing his job. The situation gets even worse if you are working in a factory, as you won't be able to concentrate and you might get injured by any machine or tool.
Sleeping disorder is also shortening the lifespan of an employee, so you are also likely to die sooner.
How could it be fixed?
It may seem like staying up late at night helps you achieve more but believe me getting proper sleep will allow you to focus on your goals. Here are the quick tips to fix sleeping disorders:
- Don't drink coffee before 4 hours of sleep.
- Don't sleep for too long in the afternoon.
- Keep the room dark at night with a good temperature.
- Do not eat heavy meals right before bed.
- Create a restful environment at night.
- Make sure your mattress is comfortable.Â
- Don't use gadgets.
- Perform meditation to give rest to your brain.
- A warm bath before bed may also help you to sleep by relaxing your body.
- Also, cross-check the medicines you are taking to make sure that they are not causing sleeping problems.Â
If you can not sleep properly even after applying these tips, you may need to see a healthcare professional. It will make sure that your sleeping disorders are not caused by any serious illness.