Ever feel tired during the day because you weren’t able to get your recommended eight hours of sleep? This is a very common problem created by social and biological circumstances. Continuing to miss the recommended amount of sleep can lead to a larger problem called Sleep Deprivation.
What Causes Sleep Deprivation?
Sleep deprivation isn’t always due to a lack of sleep but can be associated with unrestful sleep and mental health issues. Sleep deprivation has many causes which include:
- Having an Intense Work/School Schedule
- Sleep Apnea
- Imbalanced Hormones
Intense Work Schedule
An intense work or school schedule can cause employees and students to stay up later and wake up earlier to complete assignments. This can cause a sleep deficit which can lead to mental and physical exhaustion.
Depression can also contribute to sleep deprivation. It can lead to insomnia which can decrease the amount of sleep received each night. This can increase the sleep deficit someone has and can increase the amount of exhaustion they feel. Depression can also be caused by sleep deprivation which just feeds the loop, causing a larger sleep deficit.
Sleep apnea can cause sleep deprivation by decreasing oxygen levels during sleep. This can lead to sleep that is not restful. Oxygen levels are decreased because of the obstruction during sleep. This is caused by a relaxed tongue and soft palate in the upper airway, causing snoring. The snoring experienced can be so severe that it blocks the airway during sleep which leads to a decrease in overall oxygen levels.
Sleep deprivation can also come from insomnia. Insomnia causes people to have a difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep. Sleep deprivation can evolve from a difficulty falling asleep since it causes the afflicted person to stay up later causing a sleep deficit.
Various sleep disorders, including sleep deprivation, can arise from hormonal imbalances. This is especially true, and more prevalent, for women since sleep cycles can be affected during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, as well as menopause. It was also shown that snoring can increase during menopause. The problem with hormonal changes is that they can cause sleep disorders which, in turn, affect hormonal changes. This cycle creates some kind of feedback loop causing higher sleep deprivation and a higher hormonal imbalance.
How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Me?
Sleep deprivation can affect your levels of focus and decrease your ability to pay attention. This can cause problems with learning and attention. Decreased focus can cause students to have trouble with learning new subjects and completing assignments since they aren’t able to focus well and, therefore, can’t grasp new concepts very well. This can also affect employees by causing them to not be able to focus on assigned tasks very well and cause a decrease in efficiency.
Drowsiness is another side effect of sleep deprivation. Not getting enough sleep can cause drowsiness which can lead to impaired driving and accidents on the road. According to the CDC, drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes in 2013 which was an underestimate.