Sleep Deprivation Symptoms: When Do You Know You Are Not Getting Enough Sleep?

The term ‘sleep deprivation’ is understandable; but do we know what the sleep deprivation symptoms are?  Knowing what the warning signs are, might help you to overcome the condition before it turns more serious.

Sleep deprivation is a condition that describes lack of ‘enough sleep’. The condition can be acute or chronic.

How much of sleep is considered enough? 

There is not much evidence that minor sleep deprivation causes instant physiological damage; however, it definitely affects how one feels, how the brain functions and would normally interrupt work as well as personal life. However when sleep deprivation happens over a long period of time, it could result in a series of health problems.

Sleep needs vary. According to National Institutes of Health, most healthy adults need between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep per night in order to function optimally during the day. Though there is a misconception that sleep needs reduce with age, older people still need a minimum of 8 hours of sleep.

Prevalence of sleep deprivation symptoms: how common is it in America? 

It is estimated that 56% of American adult population are dangerously sleep deprived. Though most people mention that excessive daytime drowsiness (one of the most prominent sleep deprivation symptoms) is not causing them any problem, in a scientific study consisting of a thousand people, close to 34% were found to be ‘dangerously sleepy’.

When do you know that you are sleep deprived? 

Interestingly, many of the symptoms of this condition can be equated to the consequences. For example, excessive daytime sleepiness, one of the prime symptoms can lead to several mental and physiological conditions all of which have their roots to sleep deprivation.

Few of the tell-tale sleep deprivation symptoms that have links to excessive sleepiness are: 

–          Falling asleep while sitting still

–          Mood swings

–          Irritability

–          Anxiety (Chronic tiredness can increase vulnerability to depression and accentuate other mood problems such as anxiety)

–          Signs of depression

–          Focusing problems

–          Reduced alertness

–          Longer reaction time

–          Fatigue

–          Lack of energy

–          Forgetfulness

–          Reduced power of lateral thinking 

Sleep deprivation symptoms: linked to health issues 

Excessive sleepiness, an important part of the symptoms is linked to several primary sleep disorders. Sleep disordered breathing including snoring and sleep apnea is normal with people suffering from sleep deprivation where irrational weight gain is a common sign.

When the signs include daytime fatigue, difficulty in falling or staying asleep, it could also mean insomnia. Memory problems, tiredness and irritability are also symptoms of insomnia arising out of sleep deprivation.

Who are the people who are likely to display such symptoms? 

–          Men and women of all age groups

–          Shift workers or workers who have demanding work hours

–          People who have an existing sleep disorder like delayed sleep phase disorder, environmental sleep disorder, psycho-physiological insomnia, periodic limb movements and restless legs syndrome

–          Medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease

–          There are several causes of sleep deprivation. But if one realizes the importance of sleep for a healthy life, one needs to notice some of the early symptoms and talk to a sleep specialist, if self-help does not work. There are plenty of sleep remedies that can be of help. All you need is the will to solve the problem.

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