Because of our growing reliance on technology and the rhythms of our more demanding personal and professional responsibilities, it is only natural that we neglect the one time we are truly "inactive," which is when we are asleep. Even though this habit is sometimes required, we must remember the significance of recovering from sleep deprivation in order to regain optimal levels of physical and mental function.
What happens during sleep?
You go through various stages of sleep when you are sleeping, and each stage is related to a different process taking place in your body. The first stage of sleep is the lightest and can be readily interrupted. In essence, it's when your body gets ready for the deeper phases of sleep.
The second stage occurs when your eyelids cease moving, your brain only occasionally experiences bursts of activity, your temperature drops, and your heart rate lowers.
The third stage of sleep is the deepest and is when your body restores itself. Human growth hormone is now released, and your muscles begin to recover so they are ready for the next day. Your brain's adenosine levels drop during the deep sleep stage, which also causes the urge to sleep to disappear. Because they don't provide you with enough time in a deep sleep phase to counteract the effects, brief naps rarely address the general feeling of exhaustion.
The brain is most active during REM sleep, which is the last stage of sleep and is thought to be when the brain analyzes all of the information it has accumulated. This activity is similar to that seen when you are awake.
Each of these stages will change several times while you are sleeping, so when you wake up, you should feel rested and ready for the day.
What is sleep deprivation?
Everybody experiences periodic bouts of sleeplessness, but when it occurs frequently, it's referred to as "sleep deprivation." How much sleep loss qualifies as deprivation?
According to doctors, sleeping fewer than 7 hours a night on a daily basis may cause problems. However, people differ, and not all age groups are impacted in the same way – older adults are less susceptible than children. There is no exact amount, but generally speaking, you may be sleep deprived if you don't get enough sleep to feel rested in the morning or if you have daytime sleepiness.
What are the causes of sleep deprivation?
There are many factors that contribute to sleep deprivation, and they may vary from person to person.
These are some of the most common:
1. Work. Evening work and jet lag from long-distance travel upset the circadian cycle of the body, making people stay up later than usual. Chronic sleep deprivation happens when there is no chance to sleep the next morning. It is a drawback of 24-hour services.
2. Family. According to surveys, new parents may lose up to six months' worth of sleep over the course of the first two years of a child's life. When daytime obligations are added to those from work and school, chronic sleep deprivation may ensue.
3. Stress. Hyperarousal, which is akin to the fight-or-flight reaction in its physical and mental state of alertness, is brought on by stress. The hormones that keep us awake are produced in greater amounts when we worry about things like school, work, or money. This makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
4. Substance abuse. A typical adverse effect of several drugs used to treat physical and mental illnesses is insomnia. Beta-blockers for hypertension, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for bipolar disorder and depression, and over-the-counter cold and flu medications are a few examples.
Commonplace drugs can also have stimulant effects, encouraging alertness and a frenetic sensation. The top three are nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine.
5. Sleep disorders. About 20% of adults suffer from sleep disorders, which are illnesses that make it difficult to fall or stay asleep. The most frequent cause of cumulative sleep loss is primary insomnia, but other common causes include sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and parasomnias.
6. Lifestyle. When people are having fun at a party, watching TV, or chatting with pals online, sleep isn't always their primary priority. Many young people are inclined to choose fun over sleep, but doing so might result in a sleep debt that is difficult to pay off.
What happens if you don’t sleep enough?
You will begin to display symptoms of sleep deprivation if you don't get enough sleep or if the sleep you do receive is interrupted, preventing you from spending enough time in each stage.
You may have a variety of physiological and neurological symptoms, including:
- Issues with memory and confusion
- Aching muscles
- Frequent yawning
- Eyesight issues
- Frequently getting sick
- Controlling of emotions become challenging
- Distinct bags under the eyes
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of depression
- Elevated blood pressure
- Rapid weight gain or loss
If you observe any of these things happening, it can be very unsettling because they interfere with your life and significantly impair your ability to carry out daily duties. In extreme circumstances, you might even start to microsleep, which is when you shut off briefly during the day without even realizing it.
In the second installment of this blog series, it will be discussed how we can use technology to recover from a lack of sleep.
We are available to help you if you are experiencing troubles in your everyday life brought on by sleep deprivation. Please do not hesitate to contact us through our website or via phone call at (949) 200-7929. To help us get to know you better, you may also complete this quick assessment and verify your insurance.