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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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