What is sleep deprivation?
Sleep deprivation is simply a lack of sleep – now this can be either due to a person suffering from insomnia which keeps them awake most of the night, or a person who sleeps, but constantly wakes up during the night.
Sleep deprivation is more wide spread than you would think, and affects people in all walks of life, and unfortunately the symptoms associated with this condition has a snowball effect – it not only affects you but also the people around you, your friends, family and even your co-workers.
The chronic lack of sleep can also interfere with your work performance and most importantly your health. Lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain, mood changes, increased levels of stress, frustration and irritability.
Sleeping is a basic need like breathing, eating and drinking! It is vital to your health and well being as sleep is necessary for your mental as well as your physical state. When your body is sleep deprived it can not function as efficiently as it needs to, sleep helps your brain to form new pathways to help you learn and retain information, it also helps with learning whether it be how to play an instrument, ride a bicycle, draw a picture or even to follow instructions on an English exam. Sleep can improve your attention span, decision making skills and creativity.
Studies show that sleep deprivation can alter activity in some areas of your brain and therefore you may have problems with making decisions, solving problems, keeping your emotions under control, coping with changes, as well as having an effect on your behaviour. Being deprived of sleep has also been linked to depression, risk taking, suicidal thoughts and in some cases has even been linked to actual cases of suicide.
You body needs sleep to maintain tissue repair, growth and muscle function as well as brain development. This is evident in very young infants, they require at least 14 to 18 hours of sleep during the first few weeks dropping to 12 to 16 hours by the end of the first month, this is not only critical to their normal development but is also due in part to the babies rapid growth, most infants double their birth weight by the time they reach 5 months, this adds to the theory that changes in hormonal signals during sleep boost the secretions of growth hormones, adding to the evidence of important biological changes happening during sleep.
Sleep is your bodies time for repair, we normally spend almost one third of our lives asleep, this may seem like an excessive amount but it’s extremely important to make sure we attain a good nights sleep so our bodies can do their job, without this down time our immune system will be unable to do it’s job, getting enough sleep can help resist infection the less sleep we get the more we are prone to disease this supports the theory the immune system increases production of certain proteins during sleep enabling us to resist infections.
Sleep is even good for the skin, while we are constantly shedding skin during the day our our bodies rebuild it during the night.
So evidence shows a lot goes on during sleep and being sleep deprived is extremely unhealthy for you in fact it is the cause of many mental as well as physical problems. Getting a good nights sleep is vital in functioning in the world around us.
In future articles we will be looking at some causes of sleep deprivation and of course some ways to combat it!