Sleep Deprivation

What is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is when your mind and body are not getting enough sleep to function correctly. This can be caused by a complete lack of sleep, which can be due to insomnia, constant disruptions during the night, and/or poor quality of sleep (non-REM). It can either be a chronic or acute condition, either of which can have a large impact on your daily life.

At some point in our life, we’ve all reached that point where we are so tired that our bodies and our minds just don’t seem to work as well as we’d like. We feel short tempered, unfocused and sluggish, with a noticeable impact on our productivity.

Most adults aged 19-55 need between 7-9 hours of sleep to function properly. However, nearly half of us are getting only six hours of sleep or less a night (Sleep Council ‘Toxic Sleep’ survey, January 2011).

Warning Signs

The most obvious warning signs include:

  • dark circles beneath the eyes
  • fatigue and daytime sleepiness
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • excessive hunger or loss of appetite
  • poor immune system
  • reliance on coffee

What are the Physical and Mental Effects?

Not getting enough sleep has been proven to have adverse effects on the brain and cognitive function. Sleep is a basic human need that shouldn’t be neglected and is vital for good health and general well-being.

During sleep your cells have the chance to repair themselves, your brain recharges and your body releases important hormones that regulate growth, mood and other various processes. It also plays a key role in supporting and strengthening your immune system.

Sleep deprivation also puts you at risk for a number of serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety, severely decreasing your life expectancy.

How Sleep Deprivation Impacts Quality of Life

Lack of sleep interferes with every aspect of your daily life. It even has certain effects you might not have considered. Your performance at school or work suffers, as you have trouble with learning and memory. Your reaction time decreases significantly, so much so that driving is dangerous or operating heavy machinery is dangerous.

Many sufferers report experiencing something called brain fog. They have trouble with memory and retaining information and are unable to think clearly and make rational decisions. It is also common to feel depressed, which has a number of associated health implications.

Every aspect of your life is affected by lack of sleep and should be treated seriously. It makes you less inclined to take full advantage of the opportunities on offer and enjoy life.

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