Sleep deprivation is much more harmful than you might realise. Though its common, it doesn't make it any less hazardous. Sleep deprivation can have an effect on your mind, weight and immune system. This generally occurs when you don't get enough sleep to feel active and well rested. Although the amount of asleep a person needs varies a little, an adult would need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
Common causes of sleep deprivation include medical conditions, working late hours, stress and obligations such as having to take care of a baby or a sick loved one.
Some of the consequences of sleep deprivation include:
- High blood pressure (HBP): Sleeping for less than 5 hours a night might increase one's risk of developing HBP or worsening already HBP.
- Weight gain: Sleeping for less than 5 hours can increase the likelihood of gaining weight, because sleep duration affects hormones that regulate hunger and your appetite. This could also lead to fatigue, thus resulting in less physical activity.
- Changes in cognitive function: Research has shown that people who get inadequate sleep over several nights don't perform well on complex tasks as compared to the ones who get seven hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation can cause irritability, poor judgment and decreased libido.
- Weakened immune system: Studies have shown that individuals who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus such as common cold. Lack of sleep can affect how fast one recovers from being sick.
- Accidents: Excessive sleepiness as a result of sleep deprivation is a major cause for car crashes.
- Quality of life: Being deprived of sleep can make you tired and can cause one to cut back on the activities that once he or she enjoyed. Drowsiness or unplanned naps might also cause abrasion at home and work.
How to deal with sleep deprivation?
The best way to overcome tiredness caused by sleep deprivation is to meet your sleep needs, by either increasing the amount of time you sleep or improving sleep quality. Strategic naps ofless than 30minutes can also help. When you know you're about to experience sleep loss, make it a point to get extra sleep beforehand. This might reduce the impact of sleep deprivation on your alertness and performance.
Remember, that there is no substitute for getting enough "SLEEP!"