Many adults are sleep deprived, functioning on seven hours of sleep or less each day. But even though sleep deprivation is common, it's not healthy.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation can cause greater risk of serious health issues, including cognitive difficulties, accidents, illnesses and chronic health conditions.
Cognitive problems can include memory problems, and trouble thinking and concentrating. People who are sleep deprived may experience mood changes, including a quick temper or escalated anxiety or depression. Sleep deprivation means a greater risk of accidents, including car accidents and injuries. With a weakened immunity, there's a greater likelihood of getting sick with illnesses including a cold or flu. Chronic health conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are more likely with sleep deprivation.
Signs of Sleep Deprivation
It's not difficult to spot obvious signs of sleep deprivation, like feeling tired. But there are some signs that aren't as overt. Other signs of sleep deprivation include:
Weight gain or weight loss
How to Avoid Sleep Deprivation
Although sleep deprivation is common, it's not normal and should be avoided. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Feeling sleepy during the day may mean you're not getting enough sleep at night. Try these tips to improve sleep quality and avoid sleep deprivation.
Give yourself more time to sleep. Sleeping more is an obvious solution for sleep deprivation. Plan out your schedule so that you have at least eight hours of rest time each night. Try to go to bed and wake up at around the same time each night and day so you can develop a predictable schedule, which offers consistency for your circadian rhythm.
Consider relaxation therapy. Stress can negatively influence your ability to sleep well at night, keeping you up later than you should be or diminishing the quality of your sleep. Relaxing activities including yoga, taking a warm bath, or reading a book may help you feel relaxed before bed. Another option is an electrotherapy stimulation device such as the MyoCalme, which can help you relax.
Create a comfortable sleep environment. Your bedroom should be conducive to sleep, offering a cool, dark, and quiet place to relax and unwind from the day. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and well suited to your needs, reading online mattress reviews to make sure you've found the right one.
Practice good sleep hygiene. Healthy sleep habits can improve the quality of your sleep and make it easier to get the rest you need at night. Avoid caffeine and heavy meals late in the day, and be careful with naps, keeping them to a maximum of 30 minutes and avoiding taking naps after 3 p.m. each day. Follow a regular bedtime routine and keep a consistent sleep schedule. Avoid screen time late at night, as it can interfere with your circadian rhythm, sending a signal that you should be alert and awake when it's time to fall asleep.
Sleep deprivation can have a profound effect on your wellness, but improving your sleep habits and giving yourself enough time to sleep at night can offer relief.