Sleep is an essential component of life. So it’s concerning that one in three adults doesn’t get enough sleep. Sufficient sleep for an average adult is between seven and nine hours and leaves you feeling refreshed and revitalized upon waking. However, this isn’t the case for many Americans.
Sleep deficiency occurs when you don’t get sufficient sleep, whether it be a lack of duration, quality, or a combination of these factors. It may also be caused by sleeping at the wrong time of day and getting out of tune with your body’s circadian rhythm. Sleep deprivation can lead to mental and physical challenges, injuries, a loss of efficiency and productivity, and an increased risk of death. Other downstream effects of sleep deprivation include heart disease, elevated blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and even mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
To combat this, it’s essential to understand the signs and symptoms and how sleep deficiency affects overall health.
What Is Sleep Deficiency?
To understand sleep deficiency, we must first understand sleep. The two types of sleep are rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM. REM describes the stage of sleep where dreams occur and deep, restorative functions take place within the body. Non-REM sleep describes deep or slow-wave sleep. The average person cycles between these stages three to five times each night.
An individual’s ability to feel well-rested depends on whether or not they spend enough time in each stage of the sleep cycle. If you don’t, you’re likely going to experience daytime exhaustion, moodiness, brain fog, and other unwanted symptoms. Sleep deficiency can interfere with work, school, and your personal life.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Signs and symptoms can vary in children and adults. For example, a sleep-deficient child might have trouble concentrating in school and exhibit behavioral problems. On the other hand, an adult might suffer from a worsened appearance, poor performance at work due to inefficiency, and an inability to retain information.
According to Better Health Channel, general signs and symptoms include the following:
- Reduced alertness and a slow reaction time
- Shortened attention span
- Worsened decision-making
- Brain fog or mental confusion
- An inability to recall from memory
- An inability to concentrate
- Reduced spatial awareness and comprehension
- An increased likelihood of mental stalling and fixation on a single thought
- Moodiness and emotional instability
- Loss of motivation, workplace efficiency, and productivity
- An increased risk of error due to forgetfulness
- Narcoleptic episodes ranging from a few seconds to several minutes
Signs specific to children include the following:
- Trouble concentrating in school and worsened behavior, such as trouble-making
- Issues with impulse control and an increase in risky actions
- An increased risk of mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Worsened grades and overall performance in school
- Daytime sleepiness, moodiness, and mental instability
How Does Sleep Deficiency Affect Overall Health?
Sleep deficiency affects overall health in several ways. In addition to the above signs and symptoms, individuals who are sleep-deprived also struggle to maintain positive relationships as their actions and emotions tend to be more chaotic and unstable.
According to W. Christopher Winter, a neurologist and author of The Sleep Solution, sleep deprivation forces your body to make some priority calls. “The body shuts down circulation to the appendages and tries to keep the core warm. It goes into survival mode,” he says. When you’re not sleeping well, “your brain’s ability to do things gets whittled down to: find food, urinate, get through the day.”
This is all to say that sleep is paramount to relationships and overall health. Sleep-deprived individuals suffer from memory loss and forgetfulness, which can lead to forgetting drycleaning, an important meeting, or even picking the kids up from school. Sleep-deprived individuals also tend to overreact to stressful situations and pet peeves. This might lead to an argument, which could have otherwise been avoided. A good tip is to save the serious conversations for days when you are feeling well-rested and emotionally stable.
A lack of sleep can also impact immunity and an individual’s ability to maintain optimal health and wellness. This can manifest in more days out of the office, fewer days on your feet, worsened appearance, weight gain, and other unwanted side effects. Each of these components affects your relationship. And to avoid them, sleep is all you need.
Having gone over the definition, signs, and effects of sleep deficiency, you are now better equipped to make changes for better health. If you suspect you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, contact your Vivos Integrated Provider (VIP) to discuss the possibility of participating in an at-home sleep test. This is the first step to breathe better, sleep better, and be well.