Nothing is worse when you feel tired. Your body aches, you become moody, and you lack the concentration. You can become depressed or sick leading to other physical or mental health issues.
A study with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention found about 7 to 19 percent of adults are not getting enough sleep. This equates to 50 to 70 million Americans having chronic sleep disorders. A large issue stemming from a lack of sleep is sleep deprivation.
What is Sleep Deprivation?
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute defines sleep deprivation as a condition that occurs if you don't get enough sleep; however, it is more broad of a category having to do with one or more of the following:
- You don't get enough sleep (sleep deprivation);
- You sleep at the wrong time of day where your body is out of sync with your internal clock;
- You don't sleep well for what your body needs; and/or
- You have a sleep disorder that prevents you from getting enough sleep or causes poor quality sleep like sleep apnea.
Like breathing, sleeping is a basic need for the body foundational for the well-being of your entire physiological make-up. With little sleep, health problems can occur that can affect productivity, concentration, or physical ailments.
Signs You are At-Risk for Sleep Deprivation:
- Working long hours or multiple jobs creating little time for a normal sleep schedule;
- Making lifestyle choices that negatively affect a consistent sleep schedule which could include abusing alcohol or drugs or not leaving enough time for sleep;
- Scheduling that conflicts with internal body clocks like shift workers, teenagers, work travel, or first responders such as a nurse; and/or
- Discovering a medical condition that prevents sleeping well such as anxiety, sleep disorders, or anxiety.
Being deprived of sleep affects more than your own self; it affects all aspects of your life. School, work, relationships, and driving all can become affected from a lack of sleep.
Sleep Deprivation's Effects Include:
- accidents due to drowsy driving or clumsiness;
- mood swings that can lead to anxiety or depression;
- long or short-term memory could be affected by not allowing your brain to rest;
- thinking or concentrating at work or in the classroom;
- a weakened immunity producing a virus such as the cold or the flu;
- health conditions like high blood pressure or a risk for diabetes; and/or
- weight gain due to a chemical imbalance in the brain.
If you find yourself dozing off while reading, watching tv, talking to someone, sitting in the classroom, or in traffic, sleep deprivation may be the reason. The best course of action is to start journaling when you find yourself falling asleep or dozing off.
Many people report an improved mood and a better memory, greater mindfulness and reduced stress. At the same time, research has shown journaling to reduce symptoms in cancer patients and improve patient health after a heart attack.
What to Track for Your Doctor:
- Wake up and bedtime
- The last time and meal you last ate
- The season and room temperature
- How tired you were at work
- The last drink you took (water, caffeine)
- Any medications you took
- Time of day and amount of exercise during the day
If you do not know where to start, writing prompts can be a good place to start if you are stuck. For example:
- I can’t sleep because I’m worried about…
- Today I felt…
- In life right now, I feel...
- I can’t sleep because tomorrow I have to…
- I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about how to fix…
- I can’t sleep because I’m mad about…
- I wish I would have ____ today...
- I can’t sleep because I have an idea about…
If you have never been diagnosed or seen a doctor over your sleep deprivation, consider contacting The Alaska Sleep Clinic for a free 10-minute phone call with a sleep educator who can help determine if a sleep study is necessary or if a consultation with our sleep specialist needs to be scheduled.