The Health Risks of Sleep Deprivation
We can all agree that getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to ensure we get the most from our waking moments. Unfortunately, for many people, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you’re one of the lucky ones, who has never suffered from sleep deprivation, you probably won’t know how your life can be so adversely affected by this condition. The fact is, the state caused by inadequate quality or quantity of sleep, can mean that managing even the simplest of tasks becomes overwhelming.
How much sleep do I need?
The amount of sleep each individual needs depends on a number of factors, but, on average, around 7-9 hours of sleep per night is recommended. Easier said than done in many cases, so it’s vital that when you do sleep, it is of good quality. Babies often sleep more than they are awake (sadly not always during the night). If you’ve ever lived with a teenager you’ll recognise the sound of a half asleep, dishevelled human appearing downstairs halfway through your day. And as we age, our sleeping patterns change again. Sleep is the time when our brains and bodies get the vital rest they need in order to grow and develop properly. Lack of sleep, therefore, contributes to impaired development and a number of other symptoms.
What are the side effects of sleep deprivation?
Hypertension – sleep helps our bodies regulate hormones that can cause stress. Lack of sleep can increase the onset of stress and anxiety.
Heart Attack / Stroke – Circulation can be affected if the brain is disrupted due to lack of sleep, leading to inflammation in the circulatory system, resulting in an increased risk of blood clots.
Weight Gain – Lack of sleep increases cortisol, the stress hormone, which in turn can cause anxiety, stress and changes in metabolism.
Diabetes – Poor sleep can disrupt the body’s method for processing glucose, which is essential for insulin production.
Brain Fog – Fatigue, short temper, irritability and the inability to focus all stem from lack of sleep. And it won’t just be you who notices these changes, the people around you will see them too!
What causes sleep deprivation?
A number of things can contribute to sleep deprivation, including your lifestyle. Worklife, family, relationships, even getting too involved in the latest Netflix special, can all result in a disruption to your much needed shut eye.
Medical conditions (eg sleep apnea), illness, anxiety and stress can also negatively impact your ability to sleep soundly.
Your environment will also play a part in how you sleep. Being uncomfortable, whether too hot or too cold, or just having a substandard bed or mattress will all make getting a good night’s sleep more difficult.
How to get a good night’s sleep
Keep regular sleep hours – your body loves routine, and keeping a regular sleep / wake schedule will benefit you
Calm environment – Whether it’s light, temperature or sound, everyone has their own idea of what a calm environment is.
Keep active – Maintaining an active lifestyle will mean you get the most out of your sleep time. The benefits of regular exercise are well known, and you’ll definitely sleep more soundly if you’ve been moving more throughout the day.
Comfort is key – Get a comfortable bed, a supportive mattress and quality bedding. It’s important to spend a bit of time choosing a mattress suited to your comfort requirements so you can sink into a deep sleep with ease.
The benefits of getting enough sleep on a regular basis might not seem much at first, but the cumulative effect of ample rest and recuperation will start to show in your daily life before you know it.