Do you suffer from sleep deprivation? Take a look at the following questions and answer to yourself whether or not they apply to you?

Do you ever find yourself feeling unfocused, unmotivated, and exhausted randomly throughout the day? Do you stay up far too late into the night but also rise early in the morning?

If you answered yes to both of those questions, your lack of sleep, or a proper sleeping schedule, could be the telltale signs of sleep deprivation.

Fret not, as sleep deprivation is far more common than you would think. According to the American Academy of Sleep, sleep deprivation affects about one in every five adults, so you're not in this alone.

a woman stares at her computer when she knows she should go to sleep

What Is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation tends to occur when someone doesn't get enough sleep each night. While the average adult requires anywhere from seven to eight hours of sleep each night, teenagers require around nine hours, and children need more than nine hours, that's not always possible.

Short spells of inadequate sleep are relatively harmless, but long stretches of getting below the recommended hours of sleep can lead to sleep deprivation.

Who Suffers The Most?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that "males and females of all ages" are at risk for sleep deprivation, but adolescents, caregivers, people who work multiple jobs, those with sleep disorders, and people with medical conditions like Parkinson's are at the most risk of developing some form of sleep deprivation.

How Is It Different From Insomnia?

One would think that insomnia and sleep deprivation would be the same thing, but that's far from the case.

According to Medscape Family Medicine, insomnia refers to the inability to sleep adequately despite having the opportunity to get some sleep. Sleep deprivation is when someone has the opportunity to get a full night's rest, but fails to get adequate sleep.

Now that we know what sleep deprivation is and who in affects, let's take a look at some of factors that lead to lack of sleep.

Common Causes Of Sleep Deprivation

There are any number of factors that lead to sleep deprivation, but here are some of the most common causes.

Behavior

One of the biggest causes is someone's own behavior. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine refers to people who engage in chronic sleep deprivation as having a sleep disorder called behaviorally induced insufficient sleep syndrome. This is present in people who have a pattern of restricted sleep on a daily basis for a span no shorter than three months.

Illness

People who are battling colds, the flu, or other common illnesses are prone to suffer from sleep deprivation as these ailments can cause snoring, coughing, and frequent waking, which all cause disruptions to their sleep cycles.

Work

People who tend to work long or unusual hours (night shifts, anyone), tend to suffer from sleep deprivation. This is also true for people who often travel for business as they can find themselves in different timezones each day, upsetting their body's natural schedule.

Screen Time

Too much screen time, especially late into the night, can have a negative impact on the duration and quality of sleep by affecting melatonin production. According to the Alaska Sleep Institute, too much light, like that emitted from a television, computer, or smart phone, can affect melatonin production and trick the brain into thinking the body isn't ready for sleep.

Medications

According to the National Sleep Foundation, medications for conditions such as high blood pressure, depression and anxiety, asthma, and heart conditions can all disrupt your sleeping patterns.

Environment

Electronic devices aren't the only things that can disrupt someone's sleep. Noise, temperature (too hot or too cold), and light can all affect how your body handles sleep.

Babies Or Young Children

Anyone with a baby or young child will know that eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is nothing but a distant memory. For the first few years of child's life, they wake up constantly throughout the night, which doesn't help parents get quality sleep.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders like sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, and even snoring can play a role in sleep deprivation.

Social Life

Someone's social life will certainly have an impact on how much sleep they can get in a night. Well, unless you and your friends all like to go to bed at a reasonable hour. The longer someone stays out, the shorter periods of sleep they'll have. It's just about finding a balance.

Poor Hygiene

Who know a person's hygiene could have an impact on the quality of their sleep? It does make sense, though. If someone is drinking a lot of coffee late into the evening, chances are they'll have a hard time falling asleep. It's a similar situation with smoking cigarettes late at night.

Now that we know what causes sleep deprivation, let's take a look at some of the telltale signs that you are affected by it.

A group of coworkers try to stay awake through a meeting

Symptoms Of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation affects adults and children in different ways, so make sure to check both of these lists when trying to determine if you or your child need to get better sleep.

Symptoms Of Sleep Deprivation In Adults

  • Poor concentration
  • Increased forgetfulness
  • Poor decision making
  • Easily distracted
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Anxiety
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Yawning
  • Grogginess when waking up and throughout the day
  • Involuntary napping throughout the day, especially when not active

Symptoms Of Sleep Deprivation In Children

  • Moodiness
  • Temper tantrums
  • Emotionally explode with little to no provocation
  • Extreme hyperactive behavior
  • Shows signs of extreme clinginess and neediness
  • Unwillingness to wake up in the morning

Health Risks From Lack Of Sleep

Extended periods of sleep deprivation can have a serious impact on someone's health and put them at risk for developing numerous medical conditions.

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease and Hypertension
  • Mood Disorders
  • Life Expectancy

Can You Die From Lack Of Sleep?

There isn't a lot of research out there that shows that extended periods of sleep deprivation can kill people, but that doesn't say that the effects of lack of sleep can't lead to someone's death.

There are the long term effects - obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. - that will ultimately lead to someone's untimely death, but there are also short term effects where sleep deprivation leads to injuries that could be fatal. These lapses in judgement and awareness can lead to accidents while driving or at work or at any number of other places and situations.

a woman falls asleep on a train after failing to get enough sleep the night before

What Is The Recommended Amount Of Sleep?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that everyone should get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night, though children and teenagers should get as much as 12 to 16 hours of sleep each day, but the higher end of the spectrum includes naps for younger children.

Babies And Toddlers

Infants between 4 and 12 months of age are recommended to get between 12 and 16 hours of sleep a day, children between 1 and 2 years of age should get between 11 and 14 hours of sleep a day, and children between the ages of 3 and 5 should get between 10 and 13 hours of sleep a day. This includes naps in addition to overnight rest.

Primary School Children

Primary school children are recommended to get between 9 and 12 hours of sleep a day but no longer have a need for daytime naps.

Teenagers

Teenagers under the age of 18 don't need as much sleep as younger children, but the still should get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep a day.

Adults

Adults are recommended to get at least 7 to 8 hours a night.

Treatment And Prevention

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that people get ample sleep each night as it's difficult, if not impossible, to regain sleep that is lost. If someone loses 2 hours of sleep each night, they'll have what the Institute considers a "sleep debt" of 14 hours after a single week.

The best way to prevent sleep deprivation is to get more sleep. Achieving that goal, however, is easier said than done. To start, people suffering from sleep deprivation should try going to bed earlier rather than sleeping in later the next morning. Over time, start making your bedtime earlier and earlier in 15-minute intervals to reset your natural clock.

But if prevention isn't an option and need a way to cope with the effects of sleep deprivation, they can always turn to caffeine and naps. Both of these methods can temporarily offset the impact lack of sleep has on the body and mind, but should only be a temporary solution.

If the problem persists, even with adjustments to a sleep schedule and temporary fixes, people suffering from sleep deprivation should turn to a doctor or sleep clinic to figure out the cause and best course of action to end the problem once and for all.

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