What is sleep deprivation?
Sleep deprivation is a typical condition that occurs when an individual is unable to get enough good quality sleep or any sleep at all, which mostly leads to a lack of alertness and performance later on. Sleep deprivation can also lead to various health conditions and can have really adverse effects on one’s overall health. According to various health organizations, it is believed that around 70% of adults suffer from sleep deprivation as well as over 70 million American citizens have chronic sleep problems.
A good long night’s sleep is necessary to function properly, especially nowadays when everything is so fast-paced and we have to be on top of our game all the time. And sleep deprivation hinders that. Sleep is also necessary to maintain critical body functions, repair muscle tissue and restore energy. It also has a significant impact on how efficiently our brain functions and processes data.
It is believed that an individual above the age of 18 till 64 years of age, requires 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep. Similarly, among people older than that, the sleep requirements lower down a bit to 7 to 8 hours. While in infants under 12 months of age, the sleep requirement is higher and is somewhere between 12 to 15 hours. But the quality of sleep one receives at night also determines how many hours of sleep is enough for them. Some people have longer deep sleep hours, which makes it somewhat okay for them to cut back on overall sleep duration.
Different Types of Sleep Disorders
Sleep deprivation can be caused by various reasons and conditions that fall under the term sleep disorders. It can lead you to develop an irregular sleeping pattern and prevent you from sleeping well on a normal basis. Some of these disorders include:
Restless leg syndrome (RLS): As the name suggests, restless leg syndrome is a type of sensation that causes you to move your legs constantly while asleep. This could cause poor sleep quality and a lack of overall good levels of sleep.
Insomnia: A very common sleep disorder where the individual has a difficult time falling asleep, remaining asleep, or both.
Sleep apnea: A condition where the person has trouble breathing while asleep and sometimes may gasp for air or stop breathing altogether.
Narcolepsy: This is characterized by daytime “sleep attacks”, where the person falls anywhere, anytime.
Parasomnias: Abnormal behaviours like nightmares and sleepwalking.
Sleep Paralysis: Occurs either just before falling asleep or just after falling asleep. The body temporarily loses control of its muscle movements. It can be really disturbing and can be caused by various other underlying mental disorders or substance use.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Disorders
Different sleep disorders have different symptoms to indicate the presence of the conditions, that are exclusive to that particular disorder. Listed below are some of those symptoms:
Due to sleep apnea, the soft tissues around the mouth get more relaxed when asleep, which might lead to the airway getting blocked and cause trouble falling and remaining asleep. Following symptoms are pretty common in sleep apnea
Excessive daytime naps
Around one-third of adults across the globe suffer from this condition and over ten percent of them have such severe symptoms that they are likely to be diagnosed with clinical insomnia. Some of the notable symptoms of insomnia are as follows
Trouble falling asleep
Waking up in the middle of the night
Feeling unwell after a night’s sleep
Daytime exhaustion and sleepiness
Depression and anxiety
Narcolepsy causes sudden attacks of sleep, hallucinations at night, and excessive sleepiness. Some of its more common symptoms are
Changes in REM, also known as rapid eye movement
Sudden loss of muscle tone
Extreme daytime fatigue and sleepiness
Treatment and Preventions for Sleep Disorders
The type of treatment one can expect for sleep disorders, broadly depends on the type of condition they have as well as the advanced level of that condition. But there are a few common treatments that are observed to prevent and halt sleep disorders.
Dietary Supplements: Supplements like melatonin, valerian, and lavender help a lot with restoring the normal sleep cycle.
Medication: Sleeping pills and other common medication prescribed by the doctor to help fall asleep.
Therapy: Sleep Therapy, Hypnosis, and others employed to improve the sleep cycle.