7 Common Symptoms Of Sleep Deprivation
While lack of sleep may just seem like a natural byproduct of being an adult, especially if you are a parent, sleep deprivation can really add up and take a toll on your health. You might think you have it all under control and that you can function just fine on a few hours of sleep, but your body might be giving you signs indicating a different story. Your five hours a night sleep habit might be hurting you more than you know. There are marked symptoms of sleep deprivation that you should look for like trouble focusing during the day and memory problems.
Of course the longer you go without a good night’s sleep the worse the symptoms of sleep deprivation will get. Chronic lack of sleep will just build up, and the more impaired you get, you might not realize that there is a problem. It is important to listen to your body. Everyone’s circadian clock is different so you might need a little less or more sleep than other people, but it is still important to get what your body needs.
Here are some common symptoms of sleep deprivation:
Sleepiness and fatigue
Wouldn’t it be great to wake up and jump out of bed raring to go? If you find yourself sleeping through the alarm clock and struggling to get going in the morning, then you are probably not sleeping long enough. Fatigue that lasts all day and that urge for a nap could also be signs of sleep deprivation.
Excessive daytime sleepiness could also be a sign that you have a short sleep latency, which means you fall asleep quicker, but you are not getting a really good sleep. Short sleep latency is also found in sleep disorders like narcolepsy. If you are concerned about this, there are sleep studies that can measure sleep latency.
Moodiness and short-tempered
Do you find yourself snapping at everyone and not being able to handle stress and disruptions like you normally can? Do you have volatile mood swings that can turn quickly without warning? If left unchecked, these symptoms can lead to depression and anxiety disorders.
Lost your A game?
When you are sleep deprived, it is very difficult to be at the top of your game. Your ability to concentrate and perform your daily tasks at home and in the office can all be affected when you are not logging in enough hours of sleep. If you find you have lost your ability for quick-fire responses to challenges at work and finding yourself to be more forgetful than usual, then you might want to evaluate your sleep habits. Your ability to drive a car can also be affected by impaired responses and decreased alertness. Many accidents on the road occur because a driver was too tired to be behind the wheel.
Research has also indicated a link between lack of sleep and learning. Even as adults, we are constantly learning new things and sleep deprivation can affect our ability to process new material. The more sleep deprived you are, the more your executive functions will be affected. Even simple things like your ability to plan and organize could be impaired. Lack of sleep also affects your judgement so you might find yourself more willing to take risks.
Hallucinations and paranoia
At the extreme end, a chronic lack of sleep can cause hallucinations and feeling of paranoia. If you find yourself seeing things that are not really there or feeling like everyone is against you and you suffer from chronic insomnia, then you should see your doctor right away. It might not be an underlying mental disorder, but a chronic lack of sleep at the root of your problems.
Body aches and pains
It is not just your mental health that is affected from sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep can also lead to body aches and pains and stomach ailments. If you consistently only get 5 or less hours of sleep a night, you are also increasing your risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
When you force yourself to stay up late whether for fun or for work, have you ever noticed how you get the munchies? We tend to eat and drink more when we stay up late. Too little sleep can actually stimulate the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, making you crave sweet, salty, fatty snacks. Hence the late night pizza delivery or McDonald’s run. Mindless snacking if left unchecked can really impact your overall health.
Packing on extra pounds
Of course the extra munchies are going to lead to some weight gain. All the grease and sweets you are eating to stay awake combined with a sluggish metabolism can lead to a few unwanted extra pounds. If you have noticed that your jeans are not fitting as well as they did a few months ago, take a close look at what you are putting in your mouth every day as well as your sleep schedule. Proper nutrition and adequate rest both are important for good health.
If you have checked off most of these symptoms of sleep deprivation and typically don’t get more than 5 hours of sleep a night, then you need to make proper rest a priority in your life. Luckily, changing your routine isn’t as hard as it might appear right now. Work deadlines and a perfect home are not worth hurting your physical and mental health over.
Try setting a regular bedtime and wake up time that gives you at least 7 to 9 hours of shut eye and create a relaxing bedtime routine around it. Meditation or yoga before bed or reading a book instead of watching television or answering work emails will signal to your mind and body that it is time to sleep. Making sure you eat well all day and that you exercise at least for 30 minutes will also help you sleep. Having a comfortable mattress is also conducive to a good night’s sleep. If your mattress is 10 years or older and you find that you can’t get comfortable in it anymore, it might be time for a new mattress.