Sufficient sleep is a basic human need without which the brain and body will significantly suffer – and that’s a fact. The severity of the adverse physical and psychological effects can be such that even the cheeriest person will eventually become Oscar the Grouch and The Grinch combined!
Here are the signs that, indeed, you have been deprived of restful sleep and the steps that you can do to resolve it. When the suggested lifestyle habits don’t work, we suggest seeing your doctor because there may be an underlying medical cause for your sleep deprivation.
You’re Sleep-deprived If
Acute sleep deprivation, such as when you miss a night or two of restful sleep in preparation for an exam, can lead to a few of the following signs. You may feel, for example, daytime drowsiness resulting in the need for longer midday naps.
But if you have chronic sleep deprivation, your body starts showing more severe signs, many of which will affect your day-to-day activities. These signs include both the physical and psychological, thus, emphasizing the point that resolving sleep deprivation should involve the body and brain.
- You wake up in the morning feeling worse for the wear. You may have dry mouth, sore throat, or headache, which may or may not be caused by an underlying health issue like sleep apnea or acid reflux. You should seek medical attention if these symptoms occur over and over again for appropriate treatment.
- Your eyes are puffy, red and with dark circles, even with more pronounced under-eye bags. While these are obvious signs of sleep deprivation, these shouldn’t be dismissed, especially when you’re conscious about fine lines, wrinkles, and droopy skin.
- You’re on constant battle with acne. Your skin doesn’t only look and feel dry but it’s also showing more pimples than you care to see and not even the best anti-acne treatments will work.
- Your cravings for unhealthy food become stronger. You’re looking for quick sugar fixes and salty foods, which aren’t good when you’re watching your weight. Your sleep-deprived body cannot properly control ghrelin and leptin, which are hormones responsible for appetite control.
- You drink more cups of coffee, which isn’t surprising as caffeine is a strong stimulant. You may feel more alert after drinking your third cup for the morning but coffee will become part of the problem soon enough. You will likely experience difficulty in sleeping at night, a symptom of insomnia, or experience increased anxiety that feeds on your sleeplessness.
- You feel less than perky during the day. You may feel moody, stressed, and depressed that even the simplest acts will make you feel exhausted. The cycle, unfortunately, continues as there’s a close connection between sleep deprivation and depression.
- Your concentration and cognitive skills including your memory suffer. Your work performance suffers and your risk of accidents, such as when you doze off while driving or operating machinery, increases.
Even young people, especially teenagers, who feel that they don’t need sleep as much as their younger and older counterparts do will experience these effects. Parents and guardians must then be aware of the signs of sleep deprivation in their children even when they aren’t admitting them. Teenagers have a particular tendency to deny that they have been getting less sleep than they should have, especially when their academic and social calendars are full.
The importance of guiding children about sufficient hours of restful sleep isn’t just about their academic performance. More important, proper sleep has been closely linked with proper growth and development in terms of physical, psychological and mental health.
You Can Reverse the Tide By
Fortunately, the signs of sleep deprivation can be reversed by keeping these tips in mind.
- Schedule your bedtime. Adults need 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night so it pays to set a schedule for it.
- Go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning at the same time every day, even on the weekends and your vacation.
- Adopt a relaxing bedtime routine. A warm bath, a warm glass of milk, and a self-massage may help in getting sleep faster.
- Turn off your television, laptop, and electronic gadgets in the bedroom an hour before going to sleep.
- Keep your bedroom quiet and dark, as well as set your thermostat to a cool temperature.
- Check that your mattress, pillows and linen are comfortable. Change your lumpy mattress for a Tempur-Pedic mattress, if necessary, since it’s the foundation of restful sleep.
- Avoid eating snacks and meals at least three hours before your bedtime, as well as exercising in the evening. Both will stimulate your brain and body resulting in difficulty in going to sleep.
And don’t forget to schedule your day so that you can sleep well at night, if not seven nights a week, then at least for most nights a week. There’s a good reason your day should ideally be divided into three sections – eight hours for playing, eight hours for working, and eight hours for sleeping – because all waking up and no sleep makes John a dull boy.