Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining good health and well-being of an individual. However, today due to lifestyle changes, many people are deprived of good quality sleep. Sleep deprivation can affect health and the overall ability of a person to do daily activities. In medical terms, when a person gets inadequate sleep, poor quality sleep, or disruptions in the sleep-wake cycle, it is termed as sleep deprivation. It can deplete a person’s energy, causing sleepiness and fatigue all the time.
Let’s understand some of the causes and effects of sleep deprivation and how to prevent it.
Sleep deficiency is a broad concept. It can occur when a person has one or more of the following:
Some common symptoms of sleep deprivation in adults include:
The symptoms of sleep deficiency may differ between adults and children. Sleep deficient children tend to be overactive rather than slowing down. Some sleep deprivation symptoms in children include:
Multiple factors can contribute to sleep deprivation. Most often, sleep deprivation is driven by voluntary choices that reduce the available time for sleep. Such situations include:
Apart from the above causes, there are also health issues that commonly disrupt sleep. Some common issues include:
The effects or consequences of sleep deprivation can be serious and far-reaching. It might create problems with learning, focusing, and reacting. People with sleep deficiency may also find it hard to make decisions, solve problems, remember things, and control emotions and behavior. Sleep deficiency can also make a person feel frustrated, cranky, or worried in social situations. Studies have also found a clear link between lack of sleep, migraine and tension headaches. Lack of sleep, or sleep deficiency, reduces the body’s pain tolerance, making it more prone to headaches.
Sleep deprivation, in the long term, can increase the risks of:
Sleep deprivation may also have severe effects on children and teenagers. Children who are sleep deficient can have problems in paying attention. They might also misbehave, feel angry and impulsive, and their school performance may suffer. Similarly, sleep-deprived teenagers are more likely to have problems controlling their impulses, leading to risk-taking behaviors. Also, teenagers with sleep problems are often associated with an increased risk of depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
There are various ways to manage sleep deprivation and support quality sleep, including lifestyle and environmental adjustments, counseling, medications, and alternative therapies.
Some common suggestions on how to get more quality sleep include:
In cases of chronic sleep deprivation, it might be necessary to seek professional help. Usually, treatment for chronic sleep deprivation involves treating the underlying causes. After proper assessment of the problem, a doctor or therapist might recommend treatment that best helps to manage the sleeping disorder.
Some of the approaches they might recommend:
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