Sleep deprivation is a condition that occurs when you do not get quality sleep and/or recommended hours of sleep. The average recommended hours of sleep for adults is 7 to 9 hours daily. Sleeping less than the recommended hours or not getting quality sleep each day affects one’s mental health in more than one way.
Sleep deprivation may arise due to disruption in the sleep-wake cycle. Disruption in one’s sleep-wake cycle may occur due to personal preferences, shift works, and traveling. Lack of adequate sleep can make people stingy with a bad temper and low productivity.
Sleep deprivation falls under the broader concept of sleep deficiency. It is a rather more troubling condition that may occur due to lack of sleep. Along with a few other conditions such as a sleeping disorder, sleeping at the wrong time, etc.
We shall discuss the side effects and ways to overcome sleep deprivation in detail in our latter section.
The Sleep Chart According To Age Group
The amount of daily sleep varies according to different age groups. CDC has proposed the following sleep duration per day according to the age group.
|Age Group||Hours of Sleep Recommended||Right Time to Sleep (in general)|
|0–3 (months)||14–17 hours (National Sleep Foundation)||Anytime|
|4–12 (months)||12–16 hours per 24 hours (naps included)||Anytime|
|1–2 years||11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)||6-7 PM|
|3–5 years||10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)||7-8 PM|
|6–12 years||9–12 hours||8-9 PM|
|13–18 years||8–10 hours||9-10 PM|
|18–60 years||7 hours +||10-11 PM|
|61–64 years||7–9 hours||10 PM|
|65 years +||7–8 hours||9 PM|
Since the amount of sleep you get daily is important, it is best that you prepare a sleeping schedule. So that you could easily fulfill the daily sleep quota as recommended.
Apart from the sleep duration, you might as well consider the sleep quality. The quality of your sleep also determines your overall health and well-being. So make sure to work on your sleep quality and quantity as a whole.
Developing a good sleeping habit will prove helpful in improving the quality of your sleep.
Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
The symptoms of sleep deprivation are easily visible. It is one reason why people around you can tell whether you had a good night’s sleep or not simply by looking at you once. A sleep-deprived person may show the following symptoms:
- Excessive sleepiness
- Frequent yawning
- Mood swings
- difficulty focusing and remembering
- Daytime fatigue
A sleep diary is helpful to keep track of your sleep. Keeping track of your sleep and wake cycle is important in determining the amount of sleep you get each day. A proper sleep diary should include the following:
- The time you go to bed.
- The time you go to sleep.
- Wakeup time.
- The time when you get out of bed.
- Naps time (if any).
- The time when you exercise.
- The time you drink caffeine.
Difference Between Sleep Deprivation and Insomnia
People sometimes mistake sleep deprivation for insomnia. While sleep deprivation is a sleep loss condition, the latter is a sleeping disorder.
Let us take a look at the differences between sleep deprivation and insomnia.
|Definition||Sleep deprivation is the shortening or complete loss of sleep due to externally imposed restrictions.||Insomnia refers to the inability to get adequate or quality sleep, despite plenty of opportunity to sleep.|
|Seriousness||Less Serious||More Serious|
|Curable||Self curable||Need expert’s help|
|Treatment||Relaxation training, Stimulus control therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)||Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)|
What Causes Sleep Deprivation?
There are many reasons for not getting enough sleep. Given below is the list of some of the known causes of sleep deprivation.
1. Personal choice: People sometimes choose to not sleep at all or may sleep only for few hours. As a result, they might end up getting little sleep or no sleep at all.
2. Illness: Illness is another major reason why people end up getting sleep deprived. The recurring pain and uneasiness during illness can affect how much sleep one gets.
3. Caffeine drinks late in the evening: Caffeine can have a negative effect on your sleep. Especially if you drink it late in the evening or before going to bed. Drinking too much caffeine can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. It is also proven to alter your body’s sleep-wake clock.
4. The environment: Environment can affect your sleep in both positive and negative ways. A peaceful and dark environment helps to sleep better. While a noisy and bright environment can make sleeping difficult and sometimes impossible.
5. Shift work: People working around the clock or doing shift works at jobs will have negative effects on their sleep. They may develop shift work disorder in the long run.
6. Parenthood: Caring for your infants is a difficult and tiring job. Parents with infants may have to sacrifice their sleep caring for their children. As a result, they may end up getting little to no sleep at all.
7. Lack of vitamin D: Lack of vitamin D is associated with sleep deprivation. Low vitamin D levels may increase the risk of sleep disorder as well as sleep apnea.
8. Diet and Nutrition: Diet and nutrition have a greater impact on your sleep. Some foods can help you sleep better while others may affect your sleep adversely.
Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation has its fair share of side effects. It includes both short-term(temporary) and long-term(permanent) effects. Let us take a look at the consequences of sleep deprivation.
A. Short-term Effects
The short term effects of disrupted sleep cycle include:
- Lack of concentration
- Low at energy
- Lower sex drive
B. Long-term Effects
The long term effects of not getting enough sleep include:
Unhealthy skin: Lack of sleep can affect your skin health. Sleeping less can lead to skin dryness, itchiness, dark circles, and wrinkling of the skin. As a result, you may look older than your actual age not to mention unattractive.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia: Want to forget your past? Try sleeping less. Lack of sleep is associated with gradual memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease. What’s more, is that the amount of sleep also affects your cognitive functions.
Insomnia: Sleep deprivation can sometimes make it difficult for people to fall asleep at night. This can lead to nighttime insomnia.
Sleep apnea: A persistent lack of sleep can lead to serious health conditions such as sleep apnea.
Weakened immunity: Sleep deprivation can negatively affect your immune system. Thus making you more prone to infections and diseases.
High blood pressure: Sleeping less is than six hours a day can increase your blood pressure. In case you already have high blood pressure, sleeping less will make your blood pressure worse.
Diabetes: Sleep restrictions can affect your insulin, cortisol, and oxidative stress levels. As a result, your blood sugar level is also affected.
Risk of heart diseases: Sleep deprivation may lead to multiple heart diseases including a heart attack and stroke.
Severe mood swings: People who are sleep deprived experience severe mood swings from time to time. They may have a foul mood most of the time.
Depression: Trouble sleeping at night can lead to depression. Also, people with depression find it difficult to sleep.
As much as sleeping less is bad for your overall health and wellbeing, so is sleeping more. Sleeping more is also a serious health condition that affects nearly 2 percent of people.
Sleep deprivation is not a serious health condition that can be avoided easily. Make sure to abide by the preventive measures given below in order to improve your sleep quality.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid or limit your daytime naps.
- Avoid heavy meals at night.
- Go to bed at the same time every night.
- Wake up at the same time every morning.
- Avoid drinking caffeine past noon or at least a few hours prior to bedtime.
- Avoid the use of gadgets right before bedtime.
- Go for short walks after dinner.
- Meditate every day.
How to Improve Sleep Quality?
If you are looking to improve your sleep quality then make sure to follow these working tips from sleep foundation.
1. Use comfortable sleeping mattresses and pillows.
2. Make sure to choose quality bedding.
3. Use sleep-enhancing incenses.
4. Decorate your bedroom with air-filtering plants.
5. Avoid light distractions.
6. Adjust your room temperature to moderate.
7. Practice sleep meditation.
The Navy SEAL Sleep Exercise
If you experience difficulty falling asleep then try the navy SEAL exercise. The navy SEAL exercise is a tried and tested sleep exercise that can enhance your sleep.
Here’s a stepwise guide to practice the navy SEAL sleep exercise:
- Sit on the edge of your bed.
- Relax the muscles of your face including jaw, tongue, and muscles around the eyes.
- Dropdown your shoulders and arms as far as they go one at a time.
- Breathe out and relax your chest followed by thighs, calves, feet, and toes.
- Take time to clear your mind in approximately 10 seconds.
- Picture one of these three images:
- You’re in a canoe on a calm lake with blue sky above.
- You’re lying in a pit room in a black velvet hammock.
- You repeat the words “don’t think,” for 10 seconds.