Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is an important body function required for mental and physical well-being. The amount of sleep required changes with age in an inverse manner. For example, an infant may sleep up to 18-20 hours, whereas someone more than 80 years may need only a few hours of sleep. Lack of recommended 7 to 8 hours (for an adult).

  • The long-term effects of sleep deprivation can drain mental abilities and affect physical health, varying from weight gain to a weakened immune system. Long-term sleep deprivation also increases the risk for chronic conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, stroke, and heart disease.
  • Lack of sleep affects the two types of hormones one is leptin and the other is ghrelin. Talking about Leptin which tells the brain that you’ve had enough to eat. Due to not getting proper sleep your brain reduces leptin and raises ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant.
  • It is also found that sleep deprivation can lowers the body’s tolerance for glucose and is associated with insulin resistance, which can control feelings of hunger and fullness. Also, these disruptions can lead to diabetes mellitus and obesity.

Causes of sleep deprivation:

  • Disturbances in physical or mental health can cause sleep problems. Also, unsuitable bedroom environments like the extremes of temperature, noise level, or improper lighting can contribute to sleep deprivation.
  • Drinking an excessive amount of caffeine, stimulant medication, smoking and alcohol can adversely impact sleep.
  • Certain mental health conditions like anxiety disorder, depression, substance misuse can cause insomnia.
  • A night-time breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) can interrupt sleep and lower the quality of sleep. It is a common condition mainly seen in obese people. Common symptom is of loud snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Consequences of Sleep Deprivation:

The effects of sleep deprivation and sleep deficiency can be serious and far-reaching.

  • Diabetes: Insufficient sleep appears to affect the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, increasing the risk of metabolic conditions like diabetes.
  • Obesity: Research has found that people tend to consume more calories and carbohydrates. when they don’t get enough sleep, which is just one of several ways that poor sleep may be tied to obesity and problems maintaining a healthy weight. 
  • Immunodeficiency: Sleep deficiency has been shown to lead to worsened immune function, including a poorer response to vaccines.
  • Mental health disorders: Sleep and mental health are closely intertwined, and poor sleep has strong assoiations with conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

Symptoms and signs:

  • irritability, lack of concentration
  • daytime fatigue
  • increased accidents
  • excessive daytime sleepiness
  • frequent yawning

Treatment:

The asleep study is a useful diagnostic tool performed at home to aid the exact cause of sleep problems. The treatment will depend on the cause. Sleep hygiene is an important aspect of the treatment and most of these are simple, yet very effective self-help measures.

  • Maintain bedtime routine by sleeping and waking at the same time
  • Ensure that the room environment is conducive to sleep
  • Stick to your bedtime routine during weekends and holidays
  • Avoid daytime naps
  • Say no to caffeine past 4 pm
  • Avoiding heavy meals within a few hours before bedtime
  • Avoid using electronic devices at least 2 hours before bedtime
  • Exercise regularly, but not 3 hours before bedtime
  • Reduce alcohol intake

If the above measures fail to improve the sleep problem, then a combination of psychological counselling using cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and a short course of medication is recommended. The choice of medication will depend on the underlying cause of sleep deprivation. Long-term sleeping pills or sedatives have a negative impact on sleep which may lead to further mental health complications.