Sleep deprivation is something we have all experienced. Whether it was staying up all night in school to study for an exam or just not being able to fall asleep. If you slept 6 hours or less you are considered sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation can be chronic or acute. If you are working two jobs and you are generally sleeping 6 hours or less, this is considered chronic sleep deprivation. If you occasionally find yourself sleeping 6 hours or less, it is considered acute sleep deprivation.
Chronic sleep deprivation can have long term effects, acute sleep deprivation has short term effects and with proper sleep these consequences disappear. Regardless of whether you have acute or chronic sleep deprivation there are consequences for not sleeping enough or sleeping well. Everyone needs a different amount of sleep to function properly. Each of us may have a different baseline for appropriate sleep. An adult generally needs 7-9 hours of sleep and children need more sleep based on their age.
Effects of lack of sleep:
1. Decreased cognitive skills: The list of cognitive issues with sleep deprivation is long, here are several: difficulty making decisions, decreased judgment, poor memory, word finding issues, difficulty with thinking and processing information as well as sustained attention and concentration.
2. Motor skills: You may find that you become less agile and that you are clumsy. You are more likely to knock things over, and your reaction time may be slowed.
3. Mood: You may find that you are grumpy, feel easily overwhelmed and may feel more stressed. You may feel irritable and find you may cry easily. You may also experience fatigue and find you are tired and no longer desire to participate in pleasurable activities.
4. Weight gain: Research states that lack of sleep increases a hunger hormone so you may find yourself hungry all day when you are sleep deprived.
5. Increased blood pressure: Sleep deprivation increases blood pressure and can increase your risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
6. Weakened immune system: Lack of sleep can decrease your immune system and you may find that you are more susceptible to colds and viruses.
Research suggests that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to dying younger, increased risk for major illnesses as well as safety issues such as car accidents and on the job injuries. If this is a chronic issue for you, please discuss this with your physician.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a replacement for treatment or therapy.
Dr. Deb is a successful Psychologist who practices in New York City. She is an Anxiety Specialist who works with adolescents and adults providing both individual and couples counseling.