Sleep deprivation can take a devastating toll on the mind and body at any stage in life and we’re here to discuss the spooky scary effects that’ll make you want to hit the sack early to catch those Zzz's after reading this blog.
First, what are the causes of Sleep Deprivation?
Sleep deprivation is seen more common globally now more than ever as people sacrifice their sleeping schedules to do more work. It also affects growing teens because the lack of sleep may stunt their growth and disrupt hormonal changes essential to a growing person.
Sleep deprivation is not a disease but rather an effect of a cause. It can be caused by several reasons, namely:
1. Sleep disorders
Sleep disorders like insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea are the leading causes of sleep deprivation. These disorders make falling asleep difficult or make you wake up early, disabling you from getting enough sleep.
2. Stress and hormonal imbalance
Stress has several effects that coincide with your sleep, especially the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Usually, cortisol is an important hormone when balanced, however, a hormonal imbalance of cortisol can affect your sleep by affecting normal melatonin levels in your body.
3. Other illnesses
Illnesses like depression, cancer, Alzheimer's, and schizophrenia affect your sleep by messing with hormonal levels in your body. Fear and anxiety are commonly linked to sleep loss due to depression.
Ifyou have ever spent a night tossing and turning, you already know how you’ll feel the next day — tired, cranky, and out of sorts. These are the more obvious effects of sleep deprivation however, regularly missing out on the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep can lead to more serious consequences when our bodily functions start to suffer.
Sleep deprivation experiments
You’ve probably heard of the horrors of the ‘Russian Sleep Experiment’, a popular creepy urban myth that circulated around the internet in the early 2010’s which we will leave to you to read more in detail however, (spoiler alert) while the horrific experiment did not actually take place, there are a few people who have gone more than week without sleep, and one such experiment was done by a student named Randy Gardner.The boy stayed awake for 11 days or 264 hours for his high school science project in 1963 which made history.
During the experiment, he suffered from foggy memory, poor concentration, dizziness, slurred speech, and even hallucinations and paranoia. After the project was over, Gardner slept for 14 hours straight and woke up feeling normal again, without any long-lasting consequences of sleep deprivation.
Effects of Sleep Loss
Putting this experiment aside,research has shown that sleep loss (less than 7 hours per night) or prolonged sleep deprivation has major negative effects on the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems, including the following:
Weakens immune system
Obesity in adults and children
Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance
Cardiovascular disease and hypertension
Increased amount of the stress hormone cortisol
High blood pressure
Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses
It is the best course of action to seek medical help before your sleep deprivation is diagnosed as a sleep disorder if you observe any signs or symptoms listed above. Your doctor may forward you to a sleep specialist who can advise on your sleeping habits and routines. Additionally, sleeping pills may be of use if medicated and diagnosed accordingly.
With that stated, here are some takeaways:
Sleep deprivation gets worse if prolonged
Sleep deprivation is not a disease, instead, it is the result of sleep disorders or other forms of illnesses
A consistent sleep schedule allows your body to regulate your melatonin levels
Seek immediate help if you ever feel sleep deprived for a long period of time
And lastly, the Russian Sleep Experiment is a hoax!
Quality sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle. If you eat well and exercise regularly, but are not getting enough sleep, you may be undermining all your efforts for good results and sports performance. So, it’s best to make sure you get your much needed R&R after every training.
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