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The Importance of Sleep - Symptoms Of Sleep Deprivation

Updated on May 24, 2012

Something we commonly disregard as an important part of our lives and tend to take for granted may be the amount of time we spend sleeping. Sleep can be a vital part of how productive or functional our awake time is. According to Scientists...people can survive longer without food, then without sleep. So you may think as long as you get 'some' sleep each day, that you are doing just fine. But, in actuality, each one of our bodies is requesting a certain amount of sleep hours from us in order to adequately function.

During sleep, the body has a chance to replace chemicals, repair muscles, other tissues and aging or dead cells. Most importantly, it is a time when your brain can actually shut-down and 're-charge' so to speak. Have you ever experienced that delirious, somewhat goofy over-tired feeling when you have gone way to many hours without sleep? Basically your brain is trying to tell you something...get some sleep!

Stages of Sleep

There are several stages that occur during an average sleep-cycle. However, these cycles may all vary in length and duration from person to person.

  1. Stage 1 is light sleep, where you may find yourself drifting in and out and can be awoken easily.
  2. Stage 2 eye movement stops and brain waves become slower, but may have still have sudden bursts of rapid brain waves.
  3. Stage 3 extremely slow brain waves called delta waves are interspersed with smaller, faster waves.
  4. Stages 3 & 4 are considered very 'deep sleep' and more difficult to wake up from. In deep sleep, there is no eye movement or muscle activity.
  5. Stage 5, or the 'REM Period', breathing becomes rapid and shallow, eyes jerk rapidly and limb muscles are temporarily paralyzed. Brain waves during this stage increase to levels experienced when a person is awake. This is the time when most dreams occur, and, if awoken during REM sleep, a person will more easily remember their dreams. Most people experience three to five intervals of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep each night.

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

Did you know...It is estimated that people on average now sleep one and a half hours less than people did a century ago. It is important to know the negative effects lack of sleep can have on your health and well-being. To name a few of these negative effects, symptoms of inadequate amounts of sleep can be the following:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Irritability
  • Impair your concentration/thinking skills
  • Forgetfulness
  • Impair your judgement
  • Decrease your alertness
  • Weight gain
  • Heart failures
  • Emotional problems

There may be many factors contributing to societies growing population of sleep deprived adults:

Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

As people all have different body chemistries, it is important to remember that the so-called average of hours of sleep each adult should get, we all have different requirements. I know this all too well. Believe me, I have tried everything. I've come realize that my body is not going to change for me just because I want it to either. I need 9 to 10 hours of sleep at night or my day runs very short. For other reasons, such as Meniere's Disease, I must avoid too much caffeine which could ease this problem. Therefore, I am always looking for ways to help deal with shorter nights when they do happen.

Drowsy Driving - This is a huge danger that hits close to home for me. The percentage of auto accidents stemming from sleep deprivation is certainly on the rise. It is important to realize just how risky this is and that there are actions one can take to prevent further occurrences. Below are some great websites to aid in prevention...

http://www.aaafoundation.org/resources/index.cfm?button=drowsy

http://drowsydriving.org/


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