How Sleep Deprivation is Undermining Your Health

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Although most of us know how important sleep is to our health, we tend to take our sleep for granted until we start getting sick or feel groggy during the day. That’s when we start thinking about how much sleep we got, or didn’t get, the night before. In fact, according to research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 75% of adults surveyed reported that they either wake up too early and can’t get back to sleep or wake up too early and struggle to go back to sleep at least one time in the past month alone.


While many don’t think of it this way, sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. As people push the boundaries of their sleep schedules, it’s important to be aware of the detrimental effects on health and performance. While most are more likely to focus on the positive effects of eight hours’ worth of sleep every night, there are plenty negatives as well. For example, lack of quality rest leads to increased stress levels, cognitive impairment, and even weight gain. While some may not believe this research or think that they’re immune to these effects themselves, a good sign that someone needs more sleep is if they have trouble waking up in the morning due to oversleeping the night before.

What are the Symptoms?

Insufficient sleep has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health disorders and other chronic diseases. To ensure optimal sleep quality, try creating a relaxing environment in your bedroom before bedtime by minimizing light and noise exposure and eliminating as many distractions as possible. Take care not to eat or drink too close to bedtime; heavy meals increase the likelihood of disrupted sleep due to acid reflux. Also avoid smoking or drinking caffeine late in the day. It’s important that you keep up a regular sleep schedule seven days a week; limit naps to 15 minutes or less and don’t go too long without going to bed at night.

How Can You Improve it?

There are many ways you can improve your sleep. One way is to make sure that you’re getting enough. Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night, and if you can’t manage that, take naps during the day to catch up. If this seems like too much of a challenge, another approach may be to figure out when your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle likes to happen and align it with your daily life accordingly (This will take some experimentation.) Some people might need more or less time in bed on a given night depending on what time they usually fall asleep at night. Experiment with different lengths of time in bed and see which one makes you feel the best rested in the morning.

Who is at Risk?

In general, the risk of sleep deprivation can be evaluated by two groups: (1) those who are exposed to short sleep duration, and (2) those with medical and/or psychiatric disorders that make it difficult to sleep. The following table gives more detail about these groups.

People at Risk for Short Sleep Duration:

– Shift workers

– People with mental illness

– Teenagers without a regular bedtime

– Inadequate exercise routine or nutrition

People with Medical and Psychiatric Disorders That Make It Difficult to Sleep:

– Patients with chronic pain disorders such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, or migraine headaches often wake up during the night because of increased pain or discomfort.

Treatment Options

Ongoing sleep deprivation can take a major toll on your health. To help you improve the quality of your sleep, here are some things you can do to reduce sleep deprivation:

– Drink a warm drink before bed. This will help relax you and slow down the production of cortisol, which leads to an overactive mind. -Try not to exercise vigorously before bedtime. Vigorous exercise may make it more difficult for your body to wind down and cause trouble falling asleep. -To regulate your natural circadian rhythm, try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (even on weekends). Your body will get used to this pattern which may improve your ability to go into REM sleep more often during the night.

Why sleep is essential for health?

Eighty percent of people get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Since sleep affects every aspect of our health and well-being, it’s worth investing in improving your slumber quality. Why is a good night’s sleep so important? According to the AASM, sleep deprivation can impair a person’s ability to focus, manage time and retain information. The effects of sleep deprivation on daytime functioning make it difficult for people to work effectively or participate in family activities. They also increase their risk of accidents while driving and operating heavy machinery. Furthermore, the AASM points out that fatigue can diminish social interactions which have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and result in better eating habits.

Is sleep essential to life?

Sleep deprivation may seem like a victimless crime, but the more we study the effects of sleep deprivation, the more it seems as though all of our organs and systems suffer when we don’t get enough rest. For example, one recent study found that not getting enough sleep can lead to impaired insulin sensitivity in overweight adults. In other words, even if you’ve got all your diabetes or weight-loss needs figured out–not getting enough sleep still makes these conditions worse.


Sleep deprivation has a profound effect on health. People who are sleep deprived are more likely to develop anxiety and depression, not to mention they’re more susceptible to accidents and infections. Proper sleep is also essential for the development of children’s brains, weight management, and cardiovascular function. Cutting back on sleep leads to trouble making rational decisions, slowing down responses, and cause an increased risk of stroke and high blood pressure.

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