“To sleep, perchance to dream…” is a famous line written by the great playwright William Shakespeare. Perhaps the Bard had a passing familiarity with insomnia himself. If so, he might also have suffered certain symptoms caused by long term sleep deprivation which can mimic certain neurological disorders. While we really do not completely understand precisely why and how the body sleeps, scientists have long known that good sleep is critical to good health and mental function.
Sleep Deprivation and Neurological Disorders
Inadequate rest caused by not getting enough sleep or a good quality of sleep can and does impact your overall wellness and health. Research has shown, for instance, that sleep deprivation lowers the immune system, decreases cognitive function and memory, and disrupts other normal functions such as emotional wellbeing.
In one study, for example, volunteers were deprived of sleep and then asked to perform certain memory tests while inside an MRI so that researchers could see how their brains functioned. Not surprisingly, the volunteers showed signs of stress, fatigue, and reported feeling overly emotional as well. Other studies have shown that even a 24-hour disruption of sleep can lead to neurological symptoms that may mimic other disorders.
People who are deprived of sleep may feel achy, tired, have poor coordination, and in some cases, may even exhibit strange symptoms such as hallucinations. Sleep loss has been heavily linked to certain psychiatric disorders including hyperactivity, depression, and even dementia. Apparently, being sleep deprived rewires both the brain and the body, causing misfires and creating symptoms that may appear like other disorders.
It can also dramatically increase your chances for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, respiratory illness like colds and the flu, and other chronic disease states. And to add insult to injury, being deprived of sleep can also make you gain weight.
This is largely due to two key hormones known as leptin and ghrelin which control appetite. Lack of sleep also impacts the amount of insulin you release, which directs your body to burn or store fat. Unfortunately, a lack of sleep tends to direct the body to store fat rather than burn it.
Sleep Deprivation Can Cause:
- Poor balance
- Lowered sex drive
- Chronic inflammation
- Chronic fatigue
- Irritability and mood swings
- Muscle aches and pain
- Depression and impulsive behavior
Even if you think you are getting enough sleep, you may not be resting deeply enough for your body to heal and refresh itself. A sleep study can track your sleep and help determine if it is adversely affecting your health or causing other symptoms. Also, if you are snoring or not breathing well during sleep, it can make 8 hours of sleep seem more like 5 for the body and brain.
If you, or a loved one is concerned about not getting enough sleep or having poor quality of sleep, we can help. Call (704) 944-0562 or request an appointment online with Dr. Gingras at Gingras Sleep Medicine in Charlotte and Concord, North Carolina, for exceptional care and sleep medicine. Don’t let a lack of sleep ruin your days. Call now.