Getting enough sleep is essential for your health and general well-being. It enables your body to recover after a long, busy day and recharge its energy. On average, adults need between seven and nine hours of quality sleep, but this may vary depending on a person. Nonetheless, each person requires enough quality sleep every night to function properly. Otherwise, they may become deprived of sleep, which can cause serious health problems. If you’re not getting enough sleep, this may be due to a sleep-depriving schedule and certain lifestyle factors. However, if you’re suffering from a sleep disorder, it’s important that you seek help from a professional as this can affect your health.
Sleep deprivation and its consequences
Prolonged sleep deprivation is a serious issue that can cause a range of different problems. Apart from resulting in extreme fatigue, not getting enough sleep can cause unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as eating unhealthy foods and drinking alcohol. It has been shown that alcohol has a greater impact on a sleep-deprived person than on a well-rested individual.
Furthermore, sleep deprivation can also impair your memory, affect your ability to concentrate and make you feel depressed. It can also weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to diseases and other health problems. In addition, sleep deprivation can also cause driver fatigue, preventing you from reacting quickly, falling asleep and having wandering thoughts while driving, which can endanger your safety, as well as other people’s lives.
Sleep deprivation can be caused by different factors, ranging from personal choice, inappropriate sleeping environment and taking care of children to different illnesses and sleep disorders. While certain lifestyle habits that affect your sleep can be easily changed, sleep disorders are more serious issues that may require treatment.
Insomnia is a type of a sleep disorder that prevents individuals from falling or staying asleep. If you’re suffering from insomnia, you may experience different symptoms, including difficulty falling asleep, constantly waking up during the night, inability to go back to sleep, waking up early in the morning, fatigue, irritability, sleepiness throughout the day, etc.
Insomnia may be a problem in itself, meaning that it’s not linked to any other health issue, which is known as the primary type of insomnia. A secondary type of insomnia, on the other hand, refers to sleep problems caused by certain factors, such as health problems, medications, substance abuse, etc.
Depending on how often it occurs and how long it lasts, insomnia can also be acute and chronic. While acute insomnia is short-term and can last from one night to several weeks, chronic insomnia is a long-term problem that can last for weeks, months or even longer. Acute insomnia can be caused by environmental factors, medications, stressful life events, illness and other factors, and it may not require treatment, especially in mild cases. Chronic insomnia is caused by chronic stress, depression and discomfort and it requires more serious treatments, such as therapy or the treatment of the underlying conditions.
Sleep apnea is another type of sleep disorders that refers to insufficient, interrupted or shallow breathing, and causes breathing pauses during sleep. Some individuals may experience breathing pauses several times per night and they can last from several seconds to several minutes. This is a serious sleep disorder that can increase the risk of a stroke, a heart attack, heart failure, obesity, diabetes and other complications. Common symptoms include sleepiness, fatigue, irritability, snoring, headaches, depression, etc.
There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea is caused by improper functioning of the brain and refers to ongoing breathing disruptions during sleep. In the case of obstructive sleep apnea, your breathing is completely blocked by excessively relaxed muscles that cause the narrowing of the airways.
When it comes to the treatment of sleep apnea, there are several possible options, such as weight loss, the use of nasal sprays, sleeping on the side and avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills. Another common type of treatment is the use of different CPAP machines that typically consist of masks through which air is forced into the nose and mouth. These machines may alleviate breathing difficulties significantly by preventing the airway from getting blocked during sleep.
During sleep, you go through different phases known as REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep. Some people may abruptly wake up during these phases which is known as parasomnias. Parasomnias refer to different sleep disorders, including night terrors, nightmares and many others.
People who experience night or sleep terrors typically wake up from their sleep feeling terrified, unable to move, speak or fully wake up. They typically occur during deep sleep and may last around fifteen minutes. Sleep terrors may be caused by traumatic and stressful events, medications, sleep deprivation or may even run in family. Ongoing episodes of night terrors may cause exhaustion, sleepiness and irritability. They are more common in children, typically resolving in adolescence, but they may occur in adults, as well.
Nightmares are disturbing dreams that typically affect children, but may also cause sleep disruptions in adults. They occur during the REM phase and may be caused by late-night snacks, medication, narcotics, psychological triggers, etc. They may cause sleep deprivation and have a negative effect on your physical and mental health. If you experience severe nightmares that affect your everyday life, you should seek professional help.
Sleep disorders may significantly affect your physical and mental health, so it’s important that you get medical attention as soon as you notice that any of these disorders is interfering with your everyday life.