Do you find yourself getting up tired after a too-short night of sleep? This does more than just make it hard to get through the day – it can be a serious disorder. Sleep deprivation has more severe consequences than just being tired, including leading to an out-of-sync circadian rhythm, depression, and trouble with your immune system and mental function.
Studies have shown that staying awake for more than twenty-four hours can actually have a similar impact on your concentration and hand-eye coordination to having a blood alcohol level of 0.1. Sleep deprivation has many causes, including health conditions and stress, but managing this is as key to maintaining your health as focusing on your diet and staying active.
You also want to ensure your sleeping conditions are ideal, such as getting the best side sleeper mattress for a comfortable night’s sleep if that’s your usual sleeping style. Here are some symptoms to keep an eye out for to avoid sleep deprivation.
Poor Brain Functions
You’ll feel the symptoms of sleep deprivation first in your mind, as the brain fog can come on pretty quickly once you’ve been awake for twenty-four hours. This is because sleep is when the brain puts things into memory for later recall, so your thoughts just get lost without sleep.
Lack of sleep also affects the pre-frontal cortex, which makes it possible to reason. This is why people get more irritable and seem to have trouble making decisions without sleep. The amygdala, which regulates emotion, needs sleep to recharge, which can lead to emotional outbursts if you’re not giving your brain the sleep it needs to recharge.
Do you notice that you seem to get sick after a string of poor nights’ sleep? This isn’t just a coincidence – sleep deprivation also affects your immune system and makes you more susceptible to viruses. This is especially common with respiratory diseases, perhaps because they’re the ones where you’re exposed the most often.
Your body needs rest to be at its virus-fighting best, so after a string of nights without the proper sleep you need, the odds are something will break through your defenses and leave you battling a virus – which is harder without proper sleep.
At a certain point, lack of sleep becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The less you sleep, the more tired you are, which can leave you feeling miserable and make it hard to settle down at night. One problem people face is that they use caffeine to stay awake after a short night, and while this will stop you from dozing off at work, it won’t leave you recharged.
The caffeine stays in your system and makes it difficult to fall asleep at night. It’s far better to recharge by keeping hydrated and engaging in regular exercise to prime your body for falling asleep.
Unfortunately, many people only find out about this risk of sleep deprivation once it’s too late. Sleep deprivation affects your ability to concentrate, which means accidents are more common. This can be as minor as missing a step on the stairs and skinning a knee or as serious as falling asleep at the wheel.
One in twenty-five adults has reportedly fallen asleep at the wheel within a month. Sleep deprivation makes it harder to pay attention and slows down your reaction time, which means that cheating your body of sleep can actually endanger your life and the life of those around you.
You may notice that after a few nights of short sleep, you don’t seem to have the energy you did other times. This may manifest in you getting winded after a short walk or finding physical tasks at work overly challenging. If you’re worried about your declining abilities, it’s worth trying to reset your sleep pattern before seeking any other answers.
A few days of ideal sleep might find you back at your peak, but if you notice consistent weakness or pain, it’s important to see a doctor and get checked out for any other causes, like autoimmune disorders or arthritis.
Reset Your Body and Mind
Do you notice that your reaction time and mental function aren’t what they should be? Do you feel tired all the time? Are you finding yourself sick and achy frequently?
This might be more than just a rough stretch. If you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, it could affect your ability to perform your job or stay safe on the road. It’s important to reset your sleep routine and give your body the rest it needs to ensure you can function at your peak again.