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Sleep Deprivation Symptoms And A Possible Cure

Updated on May 9, 2011

The Sandman Doesn't Arrive For Everyone

While we all lay down to rest, not all of us get to sleep. While many consider this as just bothersome, it can prove to be a serious health risk. Carrying a huge sleep debt can have drastic effects on your body. In this article we will go over the causes of sleep deprivation as well as what you can do to overcome them.

But first, we need to know why sleep is so important to us. After all, isn't it just a waste of time to lay down on the pillow when we could be doing something more productive? With our lives busier than they ever were before, we often ask ourselves - can't we just get by on 6 hours instead of 8? Well, we can ... but this creates a sleep debt that catches up to us in time.

What Is Sleep Debt?

Every night you don't get the required amount of sleep (which is argued by scientists to be somewhere between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night) you add to your sleep debt. Of course, you might think that you can catch up on your sleep on your day off, but this just isn't the case.

Fact: Only a percentage of your sleep debt can ever be recovered. As such, if you accrue a large sleep debt it will take some time to get on an even par again.

You may ask, 'What negative effects could this have on my life?'. Quite a few, I'm afraid.

Sleep Deprivation Symptoms

Sleep deprivation affects people in many different ways. You may experience all or some of these symptoms and it takes little imagination to understand how many of these could become life threatening:

  • blurry vision
  • tiredness
  • trouble with concentration
  • inability to learn new things
  • unable to remember things
  • loss or gain of appetite
  • problems dealing with others around you
  • inability to cope with stress
  • extreme fatigue
  • infections

Some researchers have compared the effects of sleep deprivation to being inebriated, and no small wonder, as many of the effects are the same. Consider your ability to cope and manage with basic skills while you are fully inebriated and you will begin to understand the symptoms of sleep deprivation. The only difference in this case is that you can only sober up by getting more sleep regularly.

A Basic Cure For Sleep Deprivation

If you suffer from normal everyday insomnia then you're in luck, as treating the issue resolves down to some basic changes in your life.

First, create an environment where you can sleep. If your mattress or pillows are uncomfortable, replace them. Turn off all light sources in your room that might keep you awake - including the TV. Also, you will want to purchase blackout drapes to keep the liught out of your room.

Next, pick a time for sleep that allows for at least eight hours of uninterrupted rest. If you can get nine or ten, all the better, but it is best to plan for at least eight. If possible, keep a fan in your room and turn it on high at night - the ambient noise will cancel out most other noises in the house, allow you to sleep better.

Do this for about a week and see if you feel any better. If not, go another week at nine hours and then one more week at ten. If you still suffer from sleep deprivation at this point then you need to see a doctor, as a medical condition is causing your lack of sleep.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition that invades upon the sleep of millions every year. While there are many medical reasons a person might not be able to sleep (such as anxiety and depression) this one is the most common cause.

Sleep apnea is when your breathing pauses or goes shallow while you are sleeping. As you are not awake you won't be aware that it's happening. The reason this causes sleep deprivation is because it takes you from a heavy sleep to a light sleep where you don't get enough rest.

There are two kinds of sleep apnia:

  • obstructive sleep apnea - when the air airway is collapsed or partially blocked as you sleep
  • central sleep apnea - when the area of your brain that control breathing misfires while you sleep

Both can prove fatal if untreated as they can lead to heart failure. To make matters worse, they can typically only be detected by a doctor performing a sleep study to monitor you while you sleep.

Fortunately, sleep apnea is treatable once diagnosed. Treatments include: breathing devices, mouthpieces, and surgery. 

We All Sleep Because We Must

There is no getting around the fact that we all must sleep. As such, it is to your benefit to resolve this issue to improve the quality of your life. Never accept sleep deprivation as a fact of life as there is plenty that can be done to resolve this condition.

And with all of that said ... I wish you a good night's rest tonight. I'm certain you've earned it!

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    • yoshi97 profile image

      yoshi97 8 years ago from a land called 'what if?'

      Thanks Trish! And that's why I keep writing ... for the good feeling one gets when they think they might have done something to help someone out. :)

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 8 years ago

      What a great hub! I have, for more years than I'm even aware of, been getting an average of 4 to 6 hours sleep per night. After watching the video, apparently I don't often have REM sleep. I do not dream every night, sometimes not for weeks. I am always tired. I go to sleep tired and wake up tired. I've gotten into a bad habit of staying home every weekend and doing nothing. After a few hours of watching something on tv, I feel the need for a nap. One Saturday, I had two naps and had no trouble going to sleep for the night later on. But the tiredness persists. I cannot blame all of this on lack of sleep, as I do not exercise, I do not get enough fresh air, nor do I have a healthy diet.

      After reading this, I feel I may very well benefit from having a sleep study done. Then, doing what they suggest!

      Thanks for this hub. It certainly was an eye-opener for me :)

    • yoshi97 profile image

      yoshi97 8 years ago from a land called 'what if?'

      A pill could work, but ya don't want to be taking pills the rest of your life if you keep missing out on sleep. :) haha!

    • Rafini profile image

      Rafini 8 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

      You mean I need a sleep study to find out why I can't get to sleep at night? I thought I could just take a pill or something. LOL

      Seriously though, very informative.

    • Wicked Web Witch profile image

      Wicked Web Witch 8 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow!

      For 2 1/2 years I have experienced many of the symptoms mentioned plus fluctuating pain in my muscles/joints. I have been treated with a gamut of medications to include opiates with marginal success. I must use stimulant medication to remain awake for more than 2-4 hours at a time. My doctors have suggested an array of conditions that might be causing this, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, occipital neuralgia, Raynaud's, perimenopause, depression, and a variety of autoimmune disorders including Lupus, but lab results are inconclusive. I never seem to feel rested. It is as if my batteries have lost their charge.

      Last night I hit on what might be the issue. I frequently wake up during the night, but never tallied the number of times. I would simply roll over and go back to sleep. Some nights I felt that I had not slept at all, despite my spouse confirming that I had. The explanation may be that I am not hitting REM sleep often enough. Last night within a 6 hour time frame I was awakened 23 times, at least. These are the times that I became conscious enough to count, I can only imagine how many additional times I left sleep, but was not fully aware of it. Armed with this information I plan to address the noises and other issues in my home that are not permitting me to reach optimal sleep levels. If anyone has suggestions on what I should do please let me know.

    • profile image

      Andy Johnston 8 years ago

      I used to also suffer from sleep debt, but then I heard about how not sleeping enough can cause you to actually gain weight because you tend to make poor food choices when tired. That was enough to get me to go to bed earlier.

    • profile image

      BookFlame 8 years ago

      Excellent information and well written! More people need to know how really impaired they can become without adequate sleep!

    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen 8 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for the great information - I wish I could sleep deeply like I did when I was younger - it really is true that if you get a good nights sleep - you can conquer the world!

    • yoshi97 profile image

      yoshi97 8 years ago from a land called 'what if?'

      I finally caught up on mine. The holidays are always horrible for me, as I am involved with retail sales ... ho, ho, ho, no!

      Still, I learned a lot while writing this article, and I'd like to say that I helped myself with what I learned from it - and I hope it helps others. :)

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 8 years ago from Texas

      Oooh, now you tell me I have a sleep debt too...LOL! Interesting I always thought I could catch up on the weekends. Oh my; I definitely need to start going to bed earlier. :D

      This is a great hub with a lot of information, thanks for sharing!

    • TechNation profile image

      TechNation 8 years ago from India

      Lack of sleep is a common problem because of the changed and hectic lifestyles we lead. Thank you for your hub.


    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 8 years ago from Washington

      What you are telling folks about is GREAT - it can seriously lead to heart troubles and we have a friend (male - sorry guys) that did not want to wear the CPAP machine - oh well!! It could save his life - so he finally did. Sleep lab studies are often offensive to some folks but they are SO valuable - and those machines or the surgery on your palate - very valuable. Hello - if they save your life, that is a GOOD thing. In my humble opinion....Audrey

    • profile image

      lyricsingray 8 years ago

      Yoshi what about if you can't stay awake like me lol, great topic, appreciate how helpful it is - I give it a green click, Kimberly

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Yoshi-the second part of Peter Tripp's video was well worth a watch...what a tragedy. Eight days?

      Thanks for this informative hub.

    • Highvoltagewriter profile image

      William Benner 8 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Thanks for this hub for I have had problems with insomnia most of my life. I am now on medication that helps a lot, however I wish I could get to the point were I did not need it. Some of your suggestions I have tried with good results. Some times however, it is hard to turn off my mind. Thanks again, and I will come back and read it again when I have more time!

    • beth811 profile image

      beth811 8 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas

      Taking also a combination of medications can also contribute to sleep deprivation.

      Thanks for the post.