Being unable to sleep is a surprisingly common phenomenon, even if we don’t always acknowledge it as such. Almost one in three people suffer from sleep deprivation, and whilst we immediately imagine how that can affect our work and social life, what we should really fear is how such tiredness could harm us in the long run. Obseity, diabetes and heart disease have all been linked to a lack of regular sleep, and so to help you realize when the rest you get isn’t enough, here are 8 symptoms of sleep deprivation to look out for.
Symptoms & Causes of Sleep Deprivation
This first symptom of sleep deprivation is one of the scariest because it leaves you completely inattentive; in an almost zombie like state. Microsleeps are little pockets of rest that can go one for up to 30-seconds; during this time, you’re unable to see, process information or control yourself meaningfully. We’ve all dozed off in a lecture or meeting at somepoint, but trust us, this is something that requires more urgent attention than a slight bit of boredom.
#2 Memory Problems
Not only has permanent, long-term memory loss in later life been linked to sleeplessness, but even in your day-to-day goings on you’ll notice quickly an inability to focus and retain information. It’s not just you snoozing when someone’s talking either; your brain’s ability to retain information depends on it being able to process information collected during the day, and “slow wave” sleep is the #1 way to halt that.
#3 An Uncomfortable Bed
It goes without saying that the comfort of your mattress and pillow is crucial to the quality of your sleep. If your mind and body are not comfortable when resting, then it is time to invest in a new mattress to aid a better night' sleep. Here at CosyCo, we are confident that in our range of pillows and mattresses, there will be something that's perfect to suit your needs.
#4 Bad Food Cravings
Yes, believe it or not, getting too little sleep may end up with too many calories in your diet. The science behind this is that sleep deprivation slows the activity in your brain that decides what food is most desirable. When it’s out of whack, we tend to go for the junk food, and at the most terrible hours too.
#5 Anxiety Disorder
In nearly all psychiatric disorders, there is some evidence of sleep disruption. Anxiety is one of the ailments most commonly linked to chronic insomnia, particularly ‘anticipatory anxiety’ – the kind that creeps up before a big test, meeting or personal engagement. A nice sleep will get your amygdala and insular cortex going, helping to promote a healthy flight or fight instinct.
#6 High Blood Pressure
One of the heaviest consequences of sleeping five hours a night, or less, is an increased risk of high blood pressure. Sleep helps regulate our stress hormones, and a lack of good snoozing will disrupt your body’s ability to regulate stress hormones, and can result in a condition called ‘obstructive sleep apnea’, where you repeatedly start and stop breathing during sleep.
The effect no-sleep has on our daily lives is obvious; lack of productivity, drowsiness and tonnes of stress to name a few. But it’s the long-term consequences of sleep deprivation that you should be most worried about, as it can wreck havoc in ways you probably couldn't imagine.
Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
#1 Heart Disease
Getting six hours of sleep a night (or less) forces your body to do some dangerous things in order to stay awake. One of the most worrying, according to a study in the European Heart Journal, is the production of specific hormones and chemicals which have been known to increase the risk of strokes and other conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.
#2 Depression and Mood Disorders
The link between mental health problems and sleep deprivation is complicated, but there have been pretty solid links made between the two. Depression is one of the most closely monitored, and in one study of 18,980 people by Stanford, a researcher concluded that those suffering from depression were five times more likely to suffer from Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
#3 Memory Loss
Sleep is that time of the day where our brain rests busy neurons, form new pathways and creates long-term memories, so it’s easy to imagine why disruptive snoozing can disrupt that process. A night’s rest is vital for your brain’s long-term health, and not getting enough on a regular basis could impair your brain’s general maintenance of your nervous system.
#4 Weakened Immune System
Your immune system will use the time you spend sleeping very productively; creating protective cytokines and various antibodies. These protective chemicals also help you sleep better in the long-run, so you can imagine the vicious cycle created by a lack of sleep. The research shows that long-term sleep deprivation raises the risk of chronic illnesses, as your body simply lacks the ammunition to fight off invading diseases.
#5 Adverse Lifestyle Changes
This last long-term consequence of sleep deprivation follows recent research done by the University of Copenhagen. Their findings show that getting a good night’s sleep made it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This was demonstrated in various ways, from smokers who were less likely to retain the habit four years later, to those who became much more physically active when they had regular, undisturbed sleep. One of the conclusions was that we all might make better informed decisions about how to prioritize our night (surfing social media vs. getting a good night’s sleep) if we become more knowledgeable about the way a shortage of rest could affect our biological well-being.