Sleep is probably best described as the loss of awareness
of what is happening around us. The brain itself never
sleeps and still continues to function, although the
brainwave rhythms are altered and gradually slow as we
approach the deeper stages of sleep. Sleep deprivation
exists when we are not getting the sleep we need. This
varies from person to person, the average adult requires six
to nine hours per night, but some do well on much less. Kids
and teenagers require more sleep than adults. If we feel
energetic during the day and do not experience daytime
sleepiness, then we are probably receiving adequate sleep.
Public awareness of fitness and nutrition has grown over
the past few years but unfortunately little is known about
the very important subject of sleep disorders. They are not
included in general medical training either so the lack of
knowledge is perpetuated. If drowsiness were the sole
disadvantage of sleep deprivation, it would not be such a
serious condition. Unfortunately the consequences are many
and some of them quite worrying. There are both behavioral
and physical symptoms.
Why do we suffer with sleep deprivation? Sometimes its
because we’re so busy that we just don’t have sufficient
time to get the rest we need. Or maybe its because we have
insomnia or one of the other sleep disorders such as sleep
apnea or restless legs syndrome. Or we may be a shift worker
who is forced to sleep during the day and our sleep is not
restful. Whatever the reason is, if we don’t have adequate
sleep we create a “sleep debt” which leads to some or all of
the symptoms shown below. These range from the inconvenient
to the downright dangerous so if you can see yourself in the
symptoms below, its worth trying to establish what is
causing your sleep deprivation we can then work out and how
to address it.
Stress and anxiety
This can be a vicious cycle as while stress can actually
cause our lack of sleep, it is also a result of it.
Fortunately it can be dealt with using the right procedures.
We’ll look at the possibilities and find out what’s causing
it and the correct solution for you.
Anger, irritability and depression
These are all stress related and they can cause
relationship and social problems. The National Sleep
Foundation has said that anger due to sleep deprivation may
be one of the contributing factors to road rage. Depression,
while remaining a complex condition may be described as
anger turned inwards. One answer to these problems may
simply be more or better sleep.
Lack of focus and difficulty in concentrating
The brain looses function as a result of sleep
deprivation. Students in particular fit into this category
as learning requires intense concentration. A study has
found that from the age of puberty, the need for sleep
increases until adulthood.
Short term memory loss
Memory is affected by lack of sleep, this is also a
problem for those trying to study and for those learning new
Impaired ability to drive a motor vehicle
Two reasons for this – one is because concentration is
affected, the second because the danger of falling asleep at
the wheel is high. The same goes for anyone who is in charge
of machinery in the workplace. Sleep deprivation can also
cause blurring of peripheral vision. Altogether quite a
deadly cocktail. The danger has been assessed as being close
to that of someone who is affected by alcohol!
Suppression of the immune system
This one is a worry as it leaves us vulnerable to every
infection that happens to be around at the time. People who
are sleep deprived get more colds and flu than those that
are not. Lack of sleep can make you sick!
Probably enough reasons there to convince us to take
action to change our sleeping habits! If lack of time is
keeping us up late, something else may have to be sacrificed
to make sure we get the rest we need. If a sleep disorder is
making your life a misery, don’t despair! There is always
something we can do and knowledge on the subject is
improving all the time.
Want to know how to have better sleep? Find out how. Check out http://www.insomnia-connection.com your resource for detailed information on sleep and curing stress. The author, Wendy Owen, has had a lifetime interest in general and alternative health as well as being an ex insomniac!
on Monday, September 7th, 2009 at 10:32 pm and is filed under Hall Of Health.
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