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Sleep Deprivation: Symptoms and Treatment | Sleep Reset

How Sleep Deprivation Impacts Your Health

Sleep is one of the most important processes for a healthy body and mind. When we lose out on sleep, it can have significant consequences. You’ve likely experienced this yourself multiple times in your life. You stay up too late or you toss and turn all night and the next day you feel groggy and irritable.

When this lack of sleep is continuous, you may be deprived of sleep. Sleep deprivation is fairly common, but it shouldn’t be ignored. Short-term impacts can cause you to have a bad day or two, but continued sleep deprivation can have detrimental long-term consequences. 

In this article, we’ll talk about how you can avoid sleep deprivation and get the sleep you need. Read on to learn more.

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What Is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation can be described as a lack of sleep. Most people need at least 6 to 9 hours of sleep per night, or they need to be able to complete four to five sleep cycles where they experience the four different stages of sleep multiple times.

Sleep deprived can also describe those who may have received the proper amount of sleep but didn’t get good-quality sleep. If you’re not waking up feeling well rested, you may be getting low-quality sleep. This could be due to sleep disorders or other conditions that prevent you from getting a restful night of sleep.

There are also different types of sleep deprivation. Here are the different categories so you can recognize what form of sleep deprivation you may be dealing with:

  • Acute sleep deprivation: This refers to sleep deprivation of a few days or less. Acute sleep deprivation can usually be treated by getting your sleep schedule back on track.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation: Chronic sleep deprivation refers to sleep issues that have been consistent for three months or longer. Chronic sleep deprivation can start to have long-term effects on your health, so it’s important to take measures to ensure you can get the quality sleep you need.

How It Relates to Anxiety and Depression

Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of mood disorders like anxiety and depression. If you already have anxiety and depression, your feelings and symptoms can be intensified by lack of sleep. This leads to a negative cycle where your anxiety or depression causes sleep deprivation and your sleep deprivation worsens your feelings of anxiety or depression.

What Are the Causes of Sleeplessness?

A multitude of factors can cause sleeplessness. Usually, it’s the choices someone makes regarding their sleep habits. Sometimes, work or school obligations can cause someone to miss out on much-needed sleep hours, especially if they’re having to study or work late or irregular hours. For others, sleep deprivation may be due to medical conditions or sleep disorders. 

General causes that can bring on sleep deprivation include:

  • Lifestyle choices
  • Work schedules
  • Sleep disorders
  • Medical conditions
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Inconsistent sleep schedule

Some of the causes of sleep deprivation will be easier to address than others. For some, it may be as simple as making some changes to your lifestyle. Others may have to work on managing symptoms of a sleep disorder or a medical condition.

What Does It Feel Like to Be Sleep Deprived?

Even if you’re not chronically sleep deprived, you likely have an idea of what sleep deprivation feels like. Anyone who has ever missed out on a good night’s sleep has experienced the feeling. 

Typically, when you’re sleep deprived, you feel extremely tired and irritable throughout the day. You may find yourself yawning or nodding off during your normal activities. It’s also likely that it will be harder for you to focus or retain information. Sleep deprivation also can affect the libido, making you less interested in sexual activity. When you first wake up after a sleep-deprived night, you may be groggy and find it more difficult than normal to get yourself out of bed.

What Are the Symptoms?

Sleep deprivation symptoms often include excessive daytime sleepiness and difficulty performing normal tasks during the day. 

You may experience a variety of symptoms if you’re sleep deprived, including:

  • Feelings of drowsiness or fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Slowed thinking
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Trouble retaining memories
  • Bad decision-making
  • Trouble regulating mood
  • Feeling irritable or stressed
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Microsleeps where you doze off for seconds or minutes at a time

The severity of these symptoms will depend on your level of sleep deprivation and whether you’ve been experiencing acute or chronic sleep deprivation.

Diagnosis

Sleep deprivation is often diagnosed by a trip to the doctor. You can discuss your symptoms and your sleep patterns. You may be asked to take a questionnaire to determine your sleeping habits and find out if sleep deprivation is the source of your symptoms. Keeping a sleep diary or tracking your sleep can also help determine if you’re getting enough sleep or if you’re getting quality sleep that will leave you feeling well rested.

Sometimes sleep deprivation can be caused by medical conditions or other sleep disorders, so it’s important to rule out the different possibilities.

Treatment

Treatment for sleep deprivation will typically involve lifestyle changes. It’s still a good idea to talk to your doctor about your symptoms to see what they recommend, but for the most part, working on your sleep hygiene can make a huge difference. 

Sleep hygiene involves optimizing your sleep environment and forming good sleep habits. You’ll likely need to make some changes to the way you sleep if you’re regularly having issues with sleep deprivation. Fortunately, lifestyle changes are usually simple to make, though they require some discipline and consistency.

Remember, sleep deprivation isn’t a normal state. Some people continue to deal with sleep deprivation because they can curb the symptoms with stimulants or they think that it’s how they normally feel. While everyone misses out on a little sleep every once in a while, it shouldn’t be an almost nightly occurrence. Ongoing sleep deprivation can lead to serious health concerns, so you should prioritize giving your body and mind the sleep they need to function optimally.

When you focus on getting a full night of sleep and getting high-quality sleep, you can wake up feeling well rested. We have some tips to help with that.

How to Manage Your Lack of Sleep

Let’s take a look at some things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene and fix your sleep deprivation concerns.

  • Create an ideal sleep environment: The first thing you should do is adjust your sleep environment. Your bedroom should be at a cool temperature, dark, and quiet. Cutting down on environmental stimuli can help you fall asleep easier and stay asleep throughout the night. Comfortable bedding can also contribute to better sleep. You should turn your bedroom into a place you look forward to going when you go to bed at night, and you should only use your bed for sleep and sex.
  • Avoid caffeine later in the day: One reason people think they can ignore their sleep deprivation issues is because they believe can just get through them with enough caffeine. Not only will this cause you to burn out in the long run, but continually drinking caffeine throughout the day can cut into your sleep cycle. Try to limit caffeine to the early mornings and early afternoons until you figure out how it affects your sleep schedule.
  • Exercise: Exercise is great for both the mind and body, and it can make your body crave sleep later in the night. Make sure that you’re not exercising too close to bedtime, as this can cause you to have too much energy to fall right to sleep.
  • Pick a sleep schedule and stick to it: Most adults need around 6 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Choose a bedtime that works for you, go to sleep at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning. This will help you fall into a routine for sleep.
  • Create a sleep routine you enjoy: Speaking of routines, it’s a good idea to have a pre-bedtime routine that you enjoy in the hour leading up to sleep. Engage in calming and relaxing activities, like taking a warm bath or enjoying a book.
  • Prioritize your sleep: When you’re trying to overcome your sleep deprivation and get your body on the right track, it’s important to prioritize your sleep for a while. This means choosing sleep over going out at night, or waking up at the same time on weekends even when you want to sleep in. This isn’t something you’ll have to do forever, necessarily, but if you’re chronically sleep deprived, it’s a good idea to focus on getting your sleep habits on a regular schedule.
  • Watch your alcohol intake: Drinking alcohol too close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep cycle. It’s a good idea to stop drinking around 4 hours before you go to bed. This will prevent the effects of the alcohol from interfering with your sleep schedule.
  • Dim phone lights: Make sure to dim the lights on your phone and other electronics or set them to night mode.
  • Try relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques can help your body and mind get into a restful state. Try methods like breathing techniques, meditation, light stretching, and progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Get natural light during the day: Natural light can help set your circadian rhythm, so try to make time to get outside and take in some natural light.

The effects of sleep deprivation can be tough to deal with, but getting your sleep hygiene on track isn’t something you have to do by yourself. Let Sleep Reset help!

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No one wants to deal with sleep deprivation. With Sleep Reset, you don’t have to. Sleep Reset is designed to help you fall asleep, stay asleep, sleep more deeply, and wake up feeling rested. Using our science-backed sleep program, we’ll support you with proven sleep methods that will improve your sleep hygiene and help you form lasting and sustainable sleep habits. 

Sleep Reset is an all-natural, no-pills solution for better sleep, so there are no side effects to deal with. We provide you with a personalized sleep program designed to address your sleep concerns. You’ll also be assigned a dedicated sleep coach to help you through your program. Sleep Reset gives you sleep tracking, access to our app, and more to help you start sleeping better.

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