Sleep deprivation is the condition of not having enough sleep; it can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain. It adversely affects the brain, hindering cognitive function.
Getting a good night’s sleep is so important for our health, both physically and mentally. We know this, we read about this, we were told as kids to go to sleep on time, and yet many of us still don’t catch enough Z’s. We spend about a third of our lives asleep, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly a third of Americans are sleep deprived. Previous studies have linked insufficient sleep to depression, high blood pressure, a weaker immune system and memory issues.
Sleep helps our brains, and it is proven that we actually learn more after a full night of rest. We cope better with more sleep, feel less stressed and have less depression. Over the long term, poor sleep can contribute to a whole host of chronic health problems, from obesity and diabetes to immune problems and an increased risk for cancer. Not to mention it raises your risk of accidents and occupational errors. They also say that being sleep deprived is comparable to having a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent.
The impact of sleep deprivation is indeed serious, and an issue that should not be taken lightly. Here are some important reasons to get enough sleep:
- Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
- Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
- Safety: Sleep deprivation contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, work mishaps, and road accidents.
- Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
- Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
- Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s protective cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
What matters most is that you start getting the proper amount of rest, as soon as possible. Sleep deprivation can be caused by many different factors, whether lifestyle, stress, or even breathing disorders. Often times, a consultation with a sleep specialist, and participating in a sleep study will shed light on your sleep problems.
If you are one to struggle with sleep deprivation and other sleep disorders, call Gingras Sleep Medicine at (704) 944-0562 to request an appointment.