Chronic Sleep Deprivation Causes and Effects

One of the main causes of sleep deprivation is a simple change in a person’s work schedule. Some jobs require people to alternate their work times, do shift work, or work nights. As an example, medical staffers, police and fire fighters often work twelve hour shifts. As a result, their circadian rhythm – the cycle that controls their feeling of alertness and fatigue – can get thrown out of alignment. Also, jet lag can have the same effect.
Keywords: sleep, sleep deprivation, sleepiness, cannot sleep, lack of sleep, insomnia

Chronic Sleep Deprivation Causes and Effects

Other causes are quite varied and usually fall into what’s known as obstructive sleep patterns or disorders. As the term implies, these are maladies that obstruct a person from getting a good night’s sleep. The first is sleep apnea, where a person stops breathing for an extended period while they’re asleep. This can lead to excessive sleep deprivation and feelings of chronic fatigue. Insomnia is another problem that can become chronic based on a number of factors.

If a person drinks too much caffeine, if they have stress due to personal finances, work, family, and so on, all of these can contribute to a person’s inability to fall asleep. Then there’s narcolepsy, where a person falls asleep suddenly; it too can disrupt the normal sleep patterns. Despite them getting bouts of sleep during unusual times, they can end up not sleep well at night. Another problem is cataplexy; this is where a person will briefly lose control of their muscles, usually as a result of a strong emotional outburst. Finally, there’s sleep paralysis, this is when a person literally can’t move when they are waking up and/or falling asleep. Both of these last two problems lead to people having trouble get to sleep or wake up.

Sleep Deprivation effects

In terms of the effects, they can be varied and quite debilitating. First off, a lack of sleep adversely affects a person’s feeling of alertness and various upper brain functions. Their memory – long and short term, decision-making ability, risk assessment and problem solving are all negatively affected.

In particular, when people try to perform routine, mundane tasks, their brains are unable to focus on the job, and they simply shut down! In addition, a lack of sleep leads to decreased REM sleep (dreaming) as a result of what’s known as sleep debt. When deprived of periods of continuous sleep, the body will decrease REM sleep to give it more deep sleep. This causes further mental deterioration and cognitive confusion. People have been known to hallucinate, become paranoid, and suffer delusions. Extreme personality shifts and mood swings are not uncommon. People can become short tempered, sob uncontrollably; lash out at friends and family, and other extreme emotional outbursts.

Fatigue, muscle aches and more

Then there are the physical affects. Sleep deprivation causes – of course – feelings of sleepiness, and then also fatigue, muscle aches and joint pains. People have less energy, their physical coordination becomes poorer, and their reaction time becomes worse. This is why it is unwise to drive when you are very sleepy. In the event of an accident in the road ahead of you, a slippery road due to rain or ice, your ability to react will be compromised.

Sleep deprivation long term effect

Over the long term, the physical affects can mount up. Doctors have found that the immune system can be weakened, muscle tone will decrease, and brain functions can be impaired. Also, a person’s inhibitions decrease – it is a little like being drunk, and people can become prone to do and say various things. As a result, sleep deprivation is sometimes used as in interrogation technique by police and military organizations. The only good thing about sleep deprivation is that its affects can be counteracted by merely getting several nights of good sleep.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *