From time to time, everyone experiences a less than perfect night of sleep. The next day, they feel cranky, tired, and just out of sorts. However, if someone doesn’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night, it will do more than just make them feel grumpy and groggy.
The fact is the long-term effects of sleep deprivation are real. This can drain a person’s mental abilities and put their physical health at a serious risk. Science has linked subpar sleep to several health issues and created a true need for Sleep Medicine. Getting to know more about sleep deprivation and the issues it can cause is the best way to handle the situation.
Put simply, sleep deprivation is the result of a consistent lack of sleep or a reduced quality of sleep. If someone gets under seven hours of sleep regularly, it may even cause health problems that impact a person’s entire body. It may also be the result of an underlying sleep disorder that needs treatment by Carolina physicians.
The human body requires sleep, just like it requires water and food to continue functioning at the highest levels possible. While someone is sleeping, the body has time to heal itself and restore the chemical balance. The person’s brain will also create all new thought connections and help with memory retention.
If someone does not get plenty of sleep, their body and brain systems will not function properly. It will also lower a person’s quality of sleep significantly. According to a recent study, sleeping too little at night will increase the risk of a person dying early. Some of the tell-tale signs of sleep deprivation include daytime fatigue, excessive sleepiness, irritability, and frequent yawning.
Also, stimulants, like caffeine are not enough to override the body’s need for a good night’s rest. These things can make sleep deprivation worse, which will make it much harder to fall asleep at night. This may lead to an ongoing cycle of insomnia along with caffeine consumption during the day to help combat cases of tiredness that are caused by the lost hours of sleep.
Issues related to chronic sleep deprivation may interfere with the body’s internal systems. Over time, this can cause more than just a few of the initial symptoms that were listed above.
The central nervous system is the main highway for information in the body. Sleep is essential to ensure it continues functioning properly. Issues related to chronic insomnia may disrupt the way the body sends and the way it processes information.
While someone is sleeping, there are pathways formed between the nerve cells – neurons – in the brain, which help someone remember the new information that they have learned. With ongoing sleep deprivation, the brain will be exhausted, which means it will not be able to handle the duties it has properly.
Some people will find it more challenging to learn new things or to concentrate. The signals that the body sends may also wind up being delayed, which is going to reduce coordination and increase the risk of accidents.
Ongoing sleep deprivation will also negatively impact a person’s mental abilities along with their emotional state. They may feel more impatient and susceptible to mood swings. It may also compromise the individual’s creativity and decision-making.
If sleep deprivation situations continue longer than usual, the individual may begin to experience hallucinations, which may include hearing or seeing things that are not really there. Insufficient sleep will also trigger cases of mania in individuals who have a bipolar mood disorder. Some of the other related psychological risks include things like suicidal thoughts, paranoia, depression, anxiety, and impulsive behavior.
Someone may also wind up experiencing microsleeps throughout the day. During these times, they will fall asleep for several or more seconds without even realizing it. Microsleep is something that is completely out of a person’s control and is something that is very dangerous – especially if a person is driving. It may also make someone more prone to injury if they are operating heavier machinery while at work and experience a microsleep event.
When someone is asleep, their immune system will produce infection-fighting, protective substances, such as cytokines and antibodies. It will use these substances to help combat certain foreign invaders, like viruses and bacteria.
There are some cytokines that will help someone sleep, too, giving the immune system more efficient to help defend the body against illness. Cases of sleep deprivation will keep the immune system from building up the forces needed to stay healthy. Cases of long-term sleep deprivation will also increase the risk of certain chronic conditions, including heart disease, Mellitus, and diabetes.
The relationships between the respiratory system and sleep are something that goes both ways. A condition that is called obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, may interrupt a person’s sleep and reduce their overall sleep quality. As a person wakes up during the night, this may result in sleep deprivation, which is going to leave the individual much more prone to respiratory infections, such as the flu or the common cold. Cases of sleep deprivation are also going to make current respiratory diseases much worse, including chronic lung illness.
While eating too much and not exercising is not good for the body, sleep deprivation isn’t either. Sleep is going to affect two essential hormones including ghrelin and leptin. These control the feelings of fullness and hunger. Without enough sleep, the hormones may become out of balance.
When it comes to sleep issues, there are more than a few things to keep in mind. If the sleep issues continue, it is a good idea to seek the care of the professionals. Being informed is the best way to know when additional care is sought when it is needed. Make sure to never ignore signs of sleep deprivation.
The experienced physicians at Carolina Cardiology Associates are committed to the health of every patient who walks through our doors. We understand the challenges of cardiovascular disease and will work with you to provide treatment, education, and a plan for the future to help you live your healthiest life.