Sleep deprivation is the condition of not having enough sleep and it can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain. It negatively affects the brain and cognitive function.
According to Dr. George Zureikat, MD, at Mid-Michigan Sleep Center, most adults need about eight hours of sleep per night. He said that studies have shown that less than seven hours a night of sleep leads to a higher risk of heart attack and earlier death. Teenagers need even more sleep, as do younger children.
Zureikat described our sleep habits as a clock within our system. This clock tells us when it is time to sleep. Sometimes we ignore that clock, our brains are too busy and the adrenaline and cortisol keep us moving and thinking. When this happens, our brain gets hungry for sleep, he said. That is when sleep deprivation kicks in.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, other health effects of sleep deprivation include high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
A lack of sleep affects not only your health, but also your mood and ability to function normally throughout the day. Zureikat said, “Sleep deprivation can cause a significant change in performance, ability to work, and mood.” It causes you to be less motivated and fatigued. There is a risk of increased errors, which could be detrimental for people who work in certain industries. It can also cause attention deficit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), insufficient sleep is responsible for motor vehicle and machinery-related crashes. These cause substantial injuries and disabilities each year.
“Many national disasters have been caused by sleep deprivation,” said Zureikat. The Walmart truck driver who crashed into comedian Tracy Morgan’s vehicle was suffering from sleep deprivation.
“More than one-quarter of the U.S. population report occasionally not getting enough sleep, while nearly 10 percent experience chronic insomnia,” according to the CDC.
Effects of sleep deprivation
Lack of concentration Attention deficit
Longer reaction times
Lack of energy
Lack of coordination