Let’s find out what are the causes of lack of sleep and come to a solution. Many people think “sleeping is a waste of time” but it may not be true.
The proper amount of sleeping time varies from person to person. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that adults need at least 7 hours of sleep at night daily. They also reveal that 1 in 3 adults do not get proper sleep regularly. You may also check our recent publication: 18 Sleep Deprivations Effects on the Brain.
Sleep is essential just as the body needs air, water, and food to function at its best. The body heals itself and equalizes the chemical balance during night sleep. The brain stores new thought connections and aids memory retention. Therefore, poor sleep dramatically lowers the quality of life on a daily basis.
An occasional interruption in sleep is okay. But People who fail to have enough ongoing quality sleep can affect their mental and physical health, well-being, and ability to function day-to-day life. The inadequate focus during the day, headaches, fatigue, irritability, and other problems happen as a result of lack of sleep.
What is lack of sleep?
Lack of sleep means getting less sleep than the needed amount of sleep that is widely known as sleep deprivation. An adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. And children and teenagers need more amount of sleep than adults. You may also check hot lemon water before bed how it works.
Sleep medicine defines sleep deprivation based on sleeping duration. In short, sleep deficiency or sleep insufficiency describe when a person lacks the quantity and quality of sleep needed to keep a person refreshed while waking up.
So the term sleep deficiency has a broader term. For instance, if a person sleeps 7 to 8 hours with many fragments and awakenings do not meet the recommended amount.
Types of different sleep deprivation
The term sleep deprivation can be categorized in various ways depending on peoples’ circumstances. Some of them are given below.
01. Acute sleep deprivation
It is a kind of a short period of sleep deprivation. It happens when people have a momentous reduction in sleep for a few days.
02. Chronic sleep deprivation
This term is also recognized as insufficient sleep syndrome by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. It is curtailed sleep that persists for three to four months or longer than that.
03. Chronic sleep deficiency
Insufficient sleep is ongoing sleep deprivation. It is also very poor quality sleep that occurs because of sleep fragmentations, awakenings, or other disruptions.
How much sleep do people need?
Sleep need is individual depending on several factors like genetic, behavioral, and environmental determinations. Most of the people need around 8 hours of good quality sleep to function properly. Hereby the CDC suggests the following amounts of sleep in 24 hours period:
0-3 months: Newborns generally sleep 14 to 17 hours a day.
4-12 months: Infants need 12 to 16 hours, including naps.
1-2 years: Toddlers need 11 to 14 hours including naps, too.
3-5 years: they require 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day including naps.
6-12 years: School-age children need a sleep of 9 to 12 hours of sleep per day.
13-18 years: teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep every day.
18-60 years: adults need approximately 7 or more hours of uninterrupted quality sleep per day.
What is low-quality sleep?
A perfect sleep considers both the quality and quantity of sleep. A low quality sleep is harmful to health and daily function. However, low-quality sleep involves:
- Several awakenings during the night
- Breathing problems like sleep apnea
- An uncomfortable bed for sleeping
- An uncomfortable environment that is too noisy, too hot or cold
Symptoms of the lack of sleep
Sleeping difficulty occurs when one experiences trouble sleeping at night. People who are getting very little quality sleep may experience several symptoms. For instances,
- Daytime fatigue
- Irritable feeling
- Excessive yawning
- Lack of focus
- Short temper
- Mood swings
- Libido changes
- Difficulties in focusing and remembering
What are sleep disorders?
Sleep disorders lead to a lot of problems. There are some common types of sleep disorders:
The chronic sleep disorder is characterized by overwhelming daytime dizziness and sudden attacks of sleep. It involves cataplexy, hallucinations, and excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, and sleep disruption.
This sleep disorder is where one stays asleep. This can be acute or chronic. Short-term insomnia lasts from one night to a few weeks. While long term insomnia lasts a minimum of three nights a week to three months or more.
03. Obstructive sleep apnea
this is a condition where there is a blockage in the upper airways. Breathing pauses throughout the night and it causes frequent wake-up overnight. Also snoring is common in such situations.
04. Circadian rhythm disorders
It happens when sleep-wake cycles do not work properly according to the biological clock that controls the timing of activities and functions of the body.
05. Restless legs syndrome
It causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs such as tingling or aching. That uncomfortable feeling makes me urge to move my legs frequently. Frequent movement may interrupt sleep at night.
06. Delayed sleep phase disorders
In this condition, the sleep cycle gets delayed. One might not have slept until the middle of the night.
What are the causes of lack of sleep?
A person may not have enough sleep for several reasons. Insufficient sleep varies from person to person for many reasons. There are various things that can significantly impact regular sleep schedules, behaviors and can prolong the period of sleep deprivation. Some of the reasons include:
01. Shift Work
A sudden shifting in work or the workplace abruptly obligates a regular sleep pattern. Also, people who have night shifts or extended hours of shift at work are common contributors to sleep deprivation at large.
02. Meeting Deadlines
Working to meet arbitrary deadlines, multiple projects, low workforce and all are clashes with one’s bedtime routine.
03. Working Schedule
An instant change in working schedule may disrupt the sleep cycle sometimes.
04. Personal Obligations
People have their own personal obligations in many ways and for many reasons. So these obligations often restrict the sleep that we require.
05. Voluntary Behavior
Changes like reading books, watching TV programs, doing any work, etc. can interfere with the sleeping cycle.
06. Environmental Factors
The factors such as cold or hot temperatures, noisy and loud environments, dark or bright light can affect sleep at night.
07. Lifestyle Factors
People who drink coffee or alcohol regularly can hamper regular sleep. Also smoking cigarettes hampers a sound sleep.
08. Using Electronic Devices
The devices such as mobile, laptop, television and such should be avoided close to bedtime.
The caregivers like nursing mothers, nurses taking care of some patients, and others who are caring for another person during the night are deprived of sleep.
10. Certain Health Conditions
The health conditions like asthma or illness such as cold, runny nose, or tonsillitis can cause snoring, gagging, and wakefulness.
11. Psychiatric Conditions
The psychiatric conditions like depression and anxiety can disrupt the normal sleeping pattern.
12. Medical Problems
For example, depression, sleep apnea, insomnia, or chronic pain are responsible for sleep deficiency.
13. Certain Situations
For instance, having a chronically ill member around or other serious issues can restrict one’s quality of sleep.
Health problems that generally disrupt sleep include
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Chronic pain
- Substance misuse
- Sleep apnea
- Bipolar disorder
- Bruxism or grinding the teeth
Lack of sleep: Effects on the body
01. The immune system
It makes a person prone to infections that are responsible for respiratory diseases.
02. Weight gain
Sleep deprivation produces more insulin. It affects the hormones which control the feeling of fullness. This can also cause an increase in fat storage. Thus it puts on body weight.
03. The cardiovascular system
Proper sleep heals heart vessels and rebuilds the maintenance of blood pressure, sugar levels, and inflammation control.
04. Hormone levels
Poor sleep affects hormone productions such as the production of growth hormones, testosterone hormones, etc. it releases stress hormones like norepinephrine and cortisol.
05. The brain
Insufficient sleep restricts people to form new memories that affect new learning. A lack of sleep affects the production of the prefrontal cortex which deals with reasoning, as well as the amygdala that handles emotion.
Insufficient sleep affects the production of testosterone that boosts fertility.
Increased risk of accidents: Insufficient sleep may limit the ability to:
- Pay attention
- React instantly
- Make quick decisions
People who get little sleep can have a higher risk of drowsy driving that can lead to accidents. A survey in the U.S. shows 1 in 25 adults face accidents because they had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Short-term effects of the lack of sleep
01. Lack of alertness
Sleep deprivation has a great effect on attention and alertness. Also, surveys reveal that sleep loss leads to accidents or injuries at the workplace. Daytime sleepiness repeated work accidents, sick days, etc. are some of the significant factors that happen because of poor quality sleep.
02. Impaired memory
Sharp wave ripples develop mostly during the deepest levels of night sleep. The brain is the place where long-term memories are kept stored.
03. Excessive daytime sleepiness
When one lacks sleep at night then one experiences drowsiness, yawning, and daytime fatigue. This results in excessive daytime sleep.
04. Relationship stress
Deprived sleep tends to overreact to situations more likely. This thing sometimes leads to conflict more and satisfaction less in relationships.
05. Quality of life
Sleep has a critical role in thinking and learning. Poor sleep disrupts cognitive processes in many ways. At first, lack of sleep impairs alertness, attention, reasoning, concentration, and problem-solving. Secondly, several sleep cycles play a role in consolidating memories in the mind at night. A poor quality sleep hampers learning efficiently.
06. Greater likelihood for car accidents
Sleep loss can become a public safety hazard on the road. Drowsiness like drunkenness slows reaction times as well. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving causes thousands of crashes, injuries, and fatalities every year.
Long term effects and complications of the lack of sleep
Taking too little sleep may increase the below risks in the long term. A continual operation without taking enough sleep causes long-term and serious health problems.
Sleep deprivation for a long period has been associated with increased blood pressure, inflammation, and higher heart palpitations.
02. Insulin resistance
Sleep deficiency disrupts the body’s mechanism for processing glucose that cells use for fuel and the amount of insulin the body produces.
03. Sleep apnea
This is a potential sleep disorder where breathing stops and starts repeatedly. Having a full night’s sleep along with loud snoring and still feeling tired is called sleep apnea.
Poor sleep increases hunger and appetite. According to a study, people who sleep less than six hours a day tend to become obese to 30 percent more than people who slept for seven to nine hours. Lack of sleep decreases in leptin and elevates in ghrelin. Ghrelin stimulates hunger. Then leptin suppresses appetite by signaling satiety to the brain.
05. Stroke or heart failure
Lack of sleep doubled the risk of heart failure from cardiovascular disease. Sleep deficiency generally disrupts the parts of the brain that control the circulatory system or it may develop a blood clot more likely.
06. Depression or anxiety
Sleep disorders contribute a lot to the symptoms of depression. A poll concludes that people who sleep less than six hours at night are likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety. Then insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression. It can be said that insomnia and depression feed on each other.
Long-term lack of sleep leads to a number of psychiatric disturbances. This can develop disorientation, paranoia, and hallucinations.
08. Impairment in immunity
The immune system performs best when people get proper sleep. A prolonged lack of sleep decreases the response of antibodies.
09. Affect appearance
Chronic sleep deprivation can affect loudly on appearance. It can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, and dark circles under the eyes. Growth hormone is released during deep sleep. So the incensement of muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones get hampered if sleep-deprived.
Increase the cortisol, the stress hormone in the body. And cortisol breaks the collagen down. Collagen protein keeps the skin smooth.
11. Kills sex drive
Sleep specialists show that sleep-deprived people experience lower libidos. So experts blame depleted energy, sleepiness, and increased tension largely. Men who have sleep apnea have abnormally low levels of testosterone. Again a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism says men with sleep apnea have low testosterone levels.
12. Decreased fertility
Sleep disorders lower libido which impacts devastatingly on both men and women trying to conceive. The brain regulates the release of reproductive hormones.
Treatments for sleep deprivation
There are some ways to support quality sleep, including counseling, lifestyle and environmental changes or adjustments, drugs, and other therapies. There is no one-size-fits-all fix to treating depression, drugs, insomnia, and other sleep problems.
Behavioral treatments for the lack of sleep
There are some approaches that do not need medications include:
Relaxation techniques: Meditation, mindfulness training, breathing exercises can help reduce tension.
Relax Melodies: There are relaxing audio recordings that are designed to help people. Pink noise including rustling leaves, steady rain, wind, heartbeats, etc. flat or even lower frequencies helps to get a better night’s sleep. These sounds have the potential as a sleep aid. These sounds are the most relaxing sound to fall asleep to.
Sleep apps: There are several apps to help people having poor sleep. For example, sleep cycle, recolor, and sleep time, pillow, and others.
Cognitive treatments for the sleep deprivation
Cognitive-behavioral therapies are there such as CBT. It helps a person by identifying different thought patterns that may contribute to poor sleep.
It aims to focus on challenging and changing cognitive distortions and improve emotional regulations. CBT helps to develop good sleep habits and restrict behaviors that keep one from sleeping well. There are some of CBT techniques advised below:
- Stimulus control therapy
- Sleep restriction
- Sleep hygiene
- Sleep environment improvement
- Relaxing training
- Remaining passively awake
Medications for the sleep disorder
There are several sedative-hypnotic medications to help limited sleep. Some options available there include:
But it is essential to follow proper instructions from doctors as it can be habit-forming or harmful.
Home care strategies for the lack of sleep
Changing sleeping environments and sleeping habits may help to have better quality and quantity of sleep. Some of the strategies are following:
Following a routine: try going to bed and waking up at the same time per day may help to form a habit to sleep properly. A consistent wake time helps to build a strong desire to sleep.
Relaxing activity: taking a warm bath or reading a positive book before bedtime helps a lot to get some slumber sleep.
Exercise: doing some exercise regularly during the day helps one to sleep well.
Eating timely: having dinner 2 to 3 hours earlier than bedtime
Comfortable environment: A quiet, dark, and cool environment in the bedroom is helpful for getting a night of good sleep.
Electronic devices: smartphones, tablets, or laptops keep one’s mind humming. So put the electronic devices away from the sleeping area while sleeping.
Alcohol and caffeine: one should limit the consumption of alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime.
Tobacco: avoid tobacco
Bruxism: one can use a mouth guard to manage bruxism.
Alternative therapies for the lack of sleep
There is no evidence that any of the therapies work. But melatonin therapy has shown effects in adults. But one needs to consult with doctors or professionals before trying any of the remedies. Moreover, some of the therapies are:
- Tai chi
How is the lack of sleep diagnosed?
A sleep specialist starts by asking about:
- How much sleep a person gets
- Sleeping habits
- Causes of disruption
- Health issues
One can keep notes in a sleep diary. Some information can include:
- When a person is going to bed and waking up from bed every day.
- How much sleeping one is getting a day
- Whether one is taking naps and for how long time
- How the sleeping environment is
- Bedtime activities like using mobile, watching tv, using other electronic devices
Also bed partners can provide some other information such as
- Restless legs syndrome
After revising all the detailed information, the doctor may request a sleep study or polysomnogram. The process involves sleeping in the laboratory. There a machine measures breathing, heart rate, pulse, heart rhythm, muscle activities, brain signals, and eye movements.
Prevention of the lack of sleep
Adequate sleep at night is the best way to prevent sleep problems. A sleep of 7 to 9 hours at night for most adults ages 18 to 64. Some of the guidelines are recommended below:
- To avoid or to limit daytime naps
- To refrain from caffeine
- To go to bed routinely
- To stick to the bedtime schedule during holidays or weekends
- To cut heavy meals before bedtime
- To refrain from using electronic devices in bedtime session
- To exercise regularly, but try to avoid doing that in the evening hours close to bedtime
- To reduce alcohol consumption
- To leave relaxing activities such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath before going to bed