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Sleep Deprivation: Why is it Harmful and How to Fix Your Sleeping Schedule

Sleep is incredibly important for both our physical and mental health. During sleep, our body undergoes a range of processes that are vital for overall well-being, including tissue repair, immune system maintenance, and memory consolidation. Sleep is important for a variety of brain functions, including how neurons communicate with each other.

Poor quality of sleep or lack of it can have negative impacts on our mood, cognitive function, and physical health, which leads to problems like fatigue, irritability, depression, and increased risk of chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Chronic sleep deprivation can worsen health conditions and aggravate already present issues.

Ideally, an adult should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health and well-being.

Are Sleep Deprivation and Insomnia the Same Thing?

Though sleep deprivation and insomnia are closely related, they aren’t essentially the same thing. Sleep deprivation is when an individual doesn’t get enough sleep. It can be either partial or total, depending on the amount of sleep lost. When someone is sleep deprived, they may feel excessively tired during the day, have difficulty concentrating, and often experience mood swings.

There are many different reasons why someone might experience sleep deprivation, such as lifestyle factors, medical conditions, and medications.

On the other hand, insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. People with insomnia may feel fatigued throughout the day and also have trouble concentrating. Insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, anxiety, depression, medications, and certain medical conditions.

Negative Impacts of Sleep Deprivation on our Body and Mind

Sleep deprivation can have a range of negative impacts on both physical and mental health. Some of the most common negative impacts of sleep deprivation include:

  1. Impaired cognitive function:

Lack of sleep can affect our ability to concentrate, make decisions, and think clearly. A study carried out by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information concluded that destructive sleeping patterns can cause behavioral and cognitive changes in an individual. Moreover, sleep deprivation can also affect one’s memory and performance in day-to-day life.

  1. Increased moodiness:

Sleep deprivation can contribute to feelings of irritability, anxiety, and depression as lack of sleep affects one’s ability to regulate emotions properly. Because of this, they might experience intense emotional reactions to things that generally might not bother them and they tend to have a reduced ability to cope with usual daily challenges.

  1. Weakened immune system:

Studies have proved that lack of sleep can compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses. Lack of sleep can also make it harder for your body to recover from illnesses.

Scientifically speaking, our body produces cytokines when we are asleep. In simple words, cytokines are a kind of protein produced by our immune system, as a response to any infection or inflammation in our body. If we are not getting enough sleep, our body produces lesser cytokines, making it harder to fight off infections.

  1.  Cardiovascular problems: 

Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Studies show that when a person does not get enough sleep, their body produces greater levels of stress hormones, which in turn raise blood pressure and heart rate, putting additional strain on the heart and blood vessels. Over time, this increased strain can contribute to the development of hypertension.

Furthermore, lack of sleep can also contribute to the development of other risk factors that contribute to heart disease, like obesity, diabetes, and metabolic issues. Sleep deprivation can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate appetite and metabolism, leading to an increased risk of overeating, weight gain, and the development of insulin resistance.

  1.  Increased risk of accidents:

Sleep deprivation can impair our body and mind coordination and reaction time, making it more likely for an individual to make mistakes and experience accidents. A sleep-deprived person is usually less alert and has less control over his motor coordination, which can prove to be life-threatening, especially in the case of driving or operating heavy machinery.

Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize getting enough sleep each night to avoid such mis-happenings.

6.     Daytime drowsiness

Lack of sleep can cause disturbances in our natural sleep-wake cycle which leads to decreased alertness throughout the day which results in daytime drowsiness and further contributes to microsleeps. Microsleeps are short periods of unconsciousness that last for a few seconds or a few minutes during the day.

Sleep deprivation hinders our brain’s ability to produce enough melatonin, a hormone which regulates our sleep.

Tips to Improve Your Sleeping Schedule

Here are some strategies that can help you overcome sleep deprivation and get a good night’s rest:

  • Creating a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Sticking to a regular sleep schedule and avoiding dramatic changes in specific sleep time
  • Creating a sleep-conducive environment, including a dark room and lower temperature
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol, particularly in the evening
  • Exercising regularly
  • Practicing relaxation techniques  like meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation will help reduce stress and sleep better at night
  • Consider seeking medical treatment if you are experiencing chronic sleep deprivation, and the condition continues to persist, despite efforts taken to overcome it.


Conclusion: Why Getting Enough Sleep is Necessary to Function

Sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being and helps in physical as well as mental restoration. Sleep allows the body to repair and restore tissues, muscles, and organs, and regulate our immune system and emotions, and subsequently improve cognitive function. A good night’s rest helps improve our mood and reduces feelings of irritability, anxiety, and depression. When you’re well-rested, you tend to be more productive, decisive in your approach, and more efficient, and you can concentrate better throughout the day and make better decisions. Getting sufficient sleep also helps enhance our athletic performance and leads to a more precise reaction time.

Overall, prioritizing sleep can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health, and can help you function at your best in all areas of life.

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