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The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

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Sleep has a critical role in serving us with good health and well-being, and although the full reasons for sleep are not quite understood, scientists have developed theories as to why we spend a third of our lives tucked up in our beds.

Reasons for sleep

These theories include:

  • Energy conservation – suggesting that a primary function is to reserve our energy for when it is most needed during the day
  • Restorative theory – where the body is given chance to repair and rejuvenate itself.
  • Inactivity theory – where it is thought that sleeping at night is a survival function in keeping harmful organisms out of the way.
  • Whatever the reasons, we all need sleep. We are grumpy and can’t function without it but for many reasons many of us often struggle to get a good night’s sleep.

Results of sleep deprivation

Regular sleep deprivation can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms. Here are just a few:

  • Accidents – the lack of sleep can cause minor and major accidents; from dropping your cornflakes on the kitchen floor to causing the death of yourself or someone else. Sleep deprivation has been a major factor in some of the world’s biggest accidents such as the 1986 meltdown at Chernobyl.
  • Difficulties learning – sleep is critical for aiding cognitive processes and the lack of sleep leads to lack of concentration, difficulties in  reasoning and forgetfulness.
  • Physical health issues – chronic sleep deprivation can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke and diabetes as well as other serious health conditions.
  • Sex drive – often people who suffer from sleeping conditions report a loss of libido.
  • Depression – over time persistent lack of quality sleep can cause depression and lead to anxiety disorders.
  • Ageing process – when people are tired they often look tired and it ages the skin with dark circles appearing under the eye, sagging under the eye and generally having lack lustre skin as during deep sleep, a growth hormone is released that seems to aid tissue repair.
the effects of sleep deprivation

Causes of sleep deprivation

Now we are aware of just some of the horrible symptoms of sleep deprivation, let’s have a look some of the varied causes:

  • Medical conditions – some medical conditions such as sleep apnoea and restless leg syndrome or other diseases can cause insomnia. Certain medications can be linked to sleep deprivation too, so it’s always worth checking with your GP if you have any of these to rule it out first.
  • Stress – emotional stress and worry can be a factor and can cause difficulties in first of all falling asleep and secondly staying asleep.
  • Environmental factors – white noise or offending noise can affect the ability to sleep.
  • Physical factors – diet, lifestyle and time of eating can hinder sleep
  • Menopause – disturbance with sleep is a common symptom reported during the years leading to the menopause.

Improving sleep habits

To begin with try to work out what is actually causing your sleep disturbances but the following should help us in getting and importantly staying asleep:

  • Allow yourself enough time – because you are all too aware of the time ticking by as you try to nod off, go to bed an hour earlier giving yourself a little cushion of time.
  • Regular pattern – although it’s not always possible with work commitments try to where you can set a regular time pattern for getting to bed and waking up
  • Relaxing behaviour – spend the hour prior to bedtime indulging in some form of relaxing behaviour and avoid exertion.
  • Avoidance – avoiding alcohol, nicotine and caffeine prior to bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and can remain in the body for up to eight hours and alcohol may provide a temporary sedating effect but can actually wreak havoc with the body’s natural sleeping rhythm.
  • Activity – keep as active as possible through the day to enable the body to relax better at night.
  • Avoid worry – we all have things that worry us but try not to think of these things close to bed time.
  •  Environment – make your bedtime environment as conducive to sleep as possible with minimal sound, or use ear plugs and minimise or completely cut out the light.
  • Meditation – learning relaxation or meditation techniques can help ease tensions.
  • Avoid napping – though it’s tempting to nap through the day when you haven’t slept at night, try to avoid the temptation as it can serve to make for a new bad routine.
  • Use lavender – using lavender oil or other lavender products has proved beneficial for many, most reporting that they feel energised and refreshed after lavender aided sleep.

Sleeping is vital and quality sleep essential to help us feel more alert, energetic and function well. Insomnia and sleep deprivation are very common and can prove a difficult cycle to break, but if you try to figure out the reasons and take positive steps towards a remedy and stick to those steps, you can hopefully achieve a good night’s sleep every night  leaving you ready to take on the world each morning.




About Shani Fowler

About Shani Fowler

Shani is 46 years old and a mum to a five year old little boy, Zak. Together with her husband and German Shepherd Bo, they live in Rothwell, Leeds. For over twenty years Shani worked as a Practice Manager in a Solicitors Practice. During her time there she was lucky enough to have been put through University and studied for four years, obtaining a BA (Hons) Degree in Business Studies. Sadly, the Solicitors Practice closed in September of 2012 but the time felt right to spread her wings a little and set up a Freelance Bookkeeping Service which so far has been successful. The flexibility also allows Shani to focus on her passion for writing too. She love reading, writing and dancing and has been dancing for about ten years now despite her husband insisting she's not improved, and informing her she possesses the fluidity of movement similar to that of C3PO (the robot from Star Wars)! Her favourite film is Shaw Shank Redemption, closely followed by Chicago, American Beauty and Philadelphia and her favourite book is Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes. Shani loves to holiday in Ixia, Greece, loves the Lake District and most of all loves her family (including Bo), friends and loves to laugh!

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