Sleep is one of the most important things our body does as humans, so it’s understandable when a lack of sleep starts affecting our mental and physical health. There’s a reason why sleep deprivation was often used as a very reliable form of torture, as anyone who’s missed a good night’s sleep will be able to attest to its effects.
Not only is a lack of sleep bad for your health, but getting enough sleep has been proven to be beneficial for it too. With a regular sleep schedule, you’re in a better standing to help resists certain diseases and illnesses, as well as feeling better mentally and physically.
There are many reasons why you may be experiencing sleep deprivation, whether it’s stress or too much caffeine. Thankfully, many of these issues will resolve on their own, however, for sufferers of chronic sleep disorders such as insomnia, this can be a very common occurrence and one that weighs heavily on their health.
Sleep Insomnia and Other Sleep Problems
While many people suffer sleep deprivation at one point or another in their lives, for some it is a constant and debilitating condition. Sleep insomnia is the constant and habitual lack of sleep experienced by some, and it has many possible causes.
If you suffer from sleep problems it could be related to poor lifestyle, anxiety, depression, stress, or the recent loss of a loved one. For many, these problems need to be treated with specialist help and for others, they will simply disappear over time.
Sleep insomnia affects at least one-third of the population at some time or another, so it’s quite common. While there are sleep aid drugs available, it’s believed that using these too often will reduce their effect and promote a dependency on them.
Suffering from sleep problems can affect you in a range of ways whether you’re a habitually poor sleeper or have only missed one night of rest due to external factors.
Sleep Deprivation Effects
As we sleep, our body and mind put in work to restore themselves and ensure we are at our very best for the following day. Not getting enough sleep, or suffering from severe sleep deprivation, can have numerous negative effects on our mental and physical wellbeing.
A lack of sleep is the common cause of many memory problems, including leaving your keys behind or forgetting meetings. Without a full night’s sleep, you’re more prone to forgetting important details that may affect work and home life.
According to Healthline, sleep deprivation impairs your cognitive functions which are responsible for keeping you safe from harmful situations. You’re prone to accidents and injuries when suffering from a lack of sleep, leaving you more open to the risk of death.
A lack of sleep has been known to trigger mania in people, which is why it was a popular form of torture. This can lead to mental health issues such as depression, which can be extremely debilitating.
Cold and Flu
As we sleep, our bodies work to repair themselves so that we can be fit and ready for the following day. Without adequate rest, we are open to catching more illnesses as our immune systems are weakened.
Similar to the reasons why we’re more likely to contract a cold, sleep deprivation can also lead to more serious diseases such as diabetes. Long term sleep deprivation puts you at a greater risk of chronic illness, and can be extremely dangerous to your health.
Why is Sleep Important to our Health?
As something which takes up almost a third of our adult lives, sleep is a crucial part of our daily routine. There are numerous health benefits to getting a good night’s sleep and some that may surprise you too.
Less Chronic Pain
For sufferers of arthritis and other chronic conditions, having a full night’s rest can help. Studies have shown a link between sleep deprivation and lower pain threshold, so it’s essential to get enough sleep at night to help your body heal.
Better Weight Control
According to WebMD, there are two ways in which a good night’s sleep can help with your weight loss journey. Firstly, if you’re getting enough sleep you’re less likely to feel tired and more likely to have the energy to work out and prepare healthier meals. Secondly, people who are tired usually crave high-fat foods and find it harder to stick to a healthy eating plan.
There’s no denying how good you feel after having a full night of rest, both mentally and physically. Sufferers of sleep deprivation will notice its effects instantly on their mental health, and find it hard to concentrate or stay engaged throughout the day.
How Many Hours of Sleep do Adults Need?
So how much sleep do adults need to avoid the effects of sleep deprivation? While this is a figure which seems to constantly change with new research, there is a fairly general guide that most experts can agree on.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s most recent recommendations, an adult should aim for between seven to nine hours up to 46 years of age, and seven to eight hours for those older than 46.
Children’s sleep schedules vary greatly as they grow, starting from as much as 17 hours per day for a newborn baby and up to 10 hours for teenagers. This amount decreases as they get older, eventually placing them in the adult range once they reach 18 years of age.
Everyone must ensure they are reaching their recommended sleep targets each day, giving their bodies the best possible chance to restore themselves overnight. By staying within these guidelines, you can give yourself the very best start to each day.