Sleep deprivation is a condition that prevents you from getting enough relaxing sleep and can possibly cause daytime sleepiness and problems in daily functioning. Sleep is a very important and complex biological function/ process. While you are sleeping, you are unconscious of your surroundings and everything else, however, your brain and body functions are still active and in process.
Our body does a myriad of essential tasks as we fall asleep. As fascinating as it sounds, what are these tasks that our body does for us? Sleep is one of the most basic human needs, like eating, drinking, or just breathing. Just like all our other essential needs, sleep is vital for your bodily well-being throughout your lifetime. It helps you stay healthy and function most efficiently by storing new information and getting rid of waste fed into your brains. Not only that! As we sleep, our nerve cells communicate and reorganize, which supports an incredibly healthy brain function. This is the prime time for the body to repair cells, restore energy, and release important molecules like hormones and proteins. So what happens when we don’t get enough quality sleep? It definitely does more than just make you feel cranky, tired, and frustrated! It has a direct impact on your physical, mental health, and daily functioning.
Signs you may have a sleep disorder broadly include consistent difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep, irregular breathing, and involuntary/ voluntary excessive movement during sleep. The comprehensive term ‘sleep disorder’ and ‘sleep deprivation’ refer to conditions that affect sleep quality and duration. It also has a direct impact on a person’s ability to properly function while they are awake due to the lack of rest the body gets. Such disorders or conditions are likely to contribute to other medical issues, and can also be symptoms of underlying physical/ mental health issues.
Alarming or not? - Signs and Symptoms: Breaking it down!
Many people occasionally go through sleeping problems owing to stress, hectic lifestyle, and tiring mundane schedules. Whether you have an occasional problem related to sleep or you’re living with a sleep disorder, you can learn to manage your sleep patterns better and get the quality sleep you deserve! However, it’s incredibly important to foresee what’s coming for you and diagnose in the early stages because it’s always easier to manage a condition when you recognize it earlier than later. Sleep disorders or sleep deprivation are a group of conditions that affect the ability to sleep properly on a regular basis.
But how do you recognize or break down if you are going through something like sleep deprivation/ sleep disorder? The primary indications and symptoms of sleep deprivation include excessive daytime sleepiness/ tiredness and daytime disabilities such as reduced concentration, smaller attention spans, and intense mood changes.
What else can be characterized to comprehend a condition like sleep deprivation or an underlying sleep disorder? If you feel extremely tired and drowsy during the day whilst having a tough time staying awake in the daytime, maybe it’s time to visit a doctor and get diagnosed to get better and manage your sleep patterns!
Note: In some cases, such a condition results in microsleep, where a person dozes off in just a few seconds. To understand ‘microsleep’ better, it refers to episodes of sleep lasting for less than 30 seconds.
Signs of microsleep include divided attention, heavy eyelids, blank staring, trouble focusing, drowsiness, and persistent yawning. (People who experience these episodes may doze off without even realizing) Microsleep is one of the most common and predominant indications of an underlying sleep disorder or just sleep deprivation.
To breakdown more simply for you to decipher and understand, these are a few signs and symptoms you need to watch out for:
- Daytime fatigue or tiredness
- Irritability and annoyance
- Excessive mood changes
- Trouble focusing
- Divided and reduced attention spans
- Reduced sex drive
- Slowed thinking
- Poor memory
- Stress or Anxious thoughts
- Poor Decision-Making ability
A person’s symptoms can depend and vary on genetics as well as the extent of one’s sleep deprivation (whether it is acute or chronic)
Note: Stimulants like caffeine can sometimes mask and have you overlook the symptoms of sleep deprivation/ sleep disorder, so it’s essential to note how your body feels with and without such substances.
Well, these are a few symptoms you must not avoid. But, have you ever spent a night all fidgety? Even when you already know how you’ll feel the next day — a fair share of cranky and agitated. If yes, maybe it’s time you restructure your sleep patterns and don’t miss out on the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night. Because not only are the long effects of lack of sleep intense, but they also have the power to drain your mental health and put your physical health in jeopardy by depleting your immune system.
It’s inevitably important to receive the right diagnosis and treatment right away if you feel or perceptibly suspect you might have a sleep disorder. If left untreated, it can lead to a variety of health problems and other dysfunctionalities. When sleep disorders aren’t caused by any particular underlying condition, treatment usually involves a combination of medical treatments and lifestyle changes.
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“Why can’t I sleep?”: Tips to Sleep Better: Let’s cultivate relaxation!
Do you ever find your mind wandering and your body tossing and turning, here and there, unable to put a stop? Like when you finally decide to crawl into your bed, you find your eyes wide open and yourself wide awake! Well, you’re not alone. Many people go through the same thing over and over again. This can happen due to a multiplicity of reasons, differing from person to person.
Worry, excitement, anger, stress, travel schedules, tomorrow’s meeting, or today’s happenings — there are a lot of things that can possibly keep you up at night! Finding it tough to fall asleep sometimes is not usually a cause for alarm. However, you may need to make some adjustments or get an appointment to talk to a doctor if sleepless nights exist for long or are a common problem for you.
How you behave throughout the day, and specifically before bedtime, can have a major impact on your sleep. It can either promote healthy sleep patterns or contribute to sleep deprivation. From your work stress, what you eat and drink, medications you resort to, day schedules to illnesses, responsibilities, and your thought process. Everything can impact your sleep, if not done in control. In the end, it’s on how you plan things out for yourself!
Even slight changes here and there can, in some cases, demarcate the difference between good sound sleep and a restless sleep-deprived night.
You can make use of some tips and tricks that can help you sleep better at night or just improve your quality of sleep, here’s what you can do:
Tip 1: Exercise, Rejuvenate, and Sleep!
Going for a walk or hitting the gym won’t just keep you healthy and fit, it will also keep you up less often than usual at night. Exercising boosts the effect of natural sleep hormones such as melatonin (a hormone that your brain produces in response to darkness, which helps with the timing of your circadian rhythms and with sleep) Just watch out for the timing of your workouts and exercise sessions, exercising too close to your bedtime won’t help and can be stimulating. However, morning workouts that expose you to daylight and sunshine will help the production of melatonin. Exercising is incredibly rejuvenating and helps to stabilize your mood and decompress the mind of all the waste!
Tip 2: Stick to Sleep RitualZzz
Tuck yourself inside your bed, listen to calming music, read a book to unwind, or drink a glass of warm water, whatever helps you structure out a comforting ritual for yourself, go for it! A set of bedtime rituals can help you sleep better at night. They help signal the body and mind that it’s time to sleep and relax.
Note: Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day (including weekends) can help your body reinforce a sleep-wake cycle.
Tip 3: Darkness Is All It Takes!
The winner of it all is a cool, dark, and quiet room! Exposure to light in the evenings might make it very challenging for you to fall asleep. Start by avoiding prolonged use of electronic gadgets before bedtime, cutting down all the stress from the day, and relaxing by yourself. Try saving your bed for just sleep and sex, not for watching TV, using your phone, or working there. It needs to be set for sleeping, not keeping yourself awake! It is important to close all lights before you wrap yourself in your bed because being exposed to light at night can block melatonin production and obstruct your sleep at night.
If these don’t work out and your sleep deprivation persists, you must go and get yourself checked to refrain from any kind of disorders or dysfunctionalities. However, if you still want to try a few more things out, before getting checked, try doing these:
- Set a bedtime that’s early enough for you to get 7-8 hours of sleep
- Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings
- Don’t go to bed unless you’re sleepy
- Maintain a healthy and nutritious diet
- Don’t eat large meals before bed
- Avoid stressful activities around bedtime
- Journal your aberrant thoughts away
- Avoid consumption of alcohol and coffee
- Avoid laying in bed awake
- Get a bedsheet that is cooling and comforting, like Tencel™
- Cut down on fluid intake before bedtime
- Be consistent with your habits
It’s not only rejuvenating and soothing to get 7-8 hours of good night’s sleep, it is also inevitably important to have a stable psychological and physiological system to fight off every problem that life throws at you. If you are facing life-altering changes or sleepless nights, it’s best to adopt a healthy lifestyle that gives you the conditioning your body and mind deserve!
Note: Self-help tips and tricks can be effective in resolving sleep deprivation for you but if things don’t get better for you, it’s better to visit a doctor who can recommend treatments like behavioural therapy and related medication. Don’t forget to take care of your body and mind despite all the stress that comes to you. Happy sleeping!
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WHY CAN’T I FALL ASLEEP? - FAQs
Why can't I fall asleep at night?
There can be various reasons why you may have trouble falling asleep. Some common reasons include anxiety, stress, depression, medication, caffeine, and an uncomfortable sleep environment.
What can I do to improve my sleep?
There are several things you can do to improve your sleep, such as establishing a regular sleep routine, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, reducing your exposure to blue light before bedtime, and creating a comfortable sleep environment.
Can exercise help me sleep better?
Yes, regular exercise can help improve sleep quality by reducing stress and anxiety, promoting relaxation, and regulating your sleep-wake cycle.
Should I avoid using electronics before bedtime?
Yes, exposure to blue light from electronics can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. It's best to avoid using electronics for at least an hour before bedtime.
What should I do if I have trouble falling asleep?
If you have trouble falling asleep, try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation. If these don't work, you may want to consult a healthcare professional.
What are the risks of not getting enough sleep?
Not getting enough sleep can increase the risk of several health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and depression. It can also impair cognitive function and reduce productivity.