Sleep Deprivation and Your Health

Most adults on an average need 7-8 hours of sleep. Some people can feel just as rested with fewer hours of sleep, but they are the exception rather than the norm. A lot of people do not get the required hours of sleep at night due to demanding schedules or due to poor sleep habits and schedules. Sleep deprivation (described as not getting enough sleep) is a growing problem. The CDC estimates that up to a third of American adults do not get sufficient sleep.

Longer work weeks, stressful jobs and family situations, financial constraints, and demands of raising children can lead to sleep deprivation. Spending a lot of time watching TV or on cell phones and tablets gets in the way of sleep as well. Not having a fixed sleep schedule contributes to this problem too. Sleeping 30 minutes to an hour less than you need to at night can make you sleep deprived over time.

Sleep deprivation has been linked with many chronic diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity among others. These associations have been observed in teenagers as well. Depression, anxiety and ADHD are closely related to sleep.

Getting less than adequate sleep interferes with your ability to regulate your emotions, solve problems, and function at work or school. You may be likely to make more mistakes and notice that you are more irritable. It also increases your risk of suffering physical injuries as you cannot react as quickly or appropriately in certain situations.

Some signs of sleep deprivation include feeling tired during the day, feeling very sleepy during the day, and noticing you can doze off while sitting quietly on your own, while watching TV or listening to music, while reading or even at work. You may even fall asleep while driving or while being stuck in traffic. This in turn can lead to very serious consequences.

If you are struggling with sleep deprivation, pay attention to your body and get help.

Author
Dr. Sayanti Bhattacharya Sayanti Bhattacharya, MD, MS, is a board-certified adult psychiatrist at Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Dr. Bhattacharya lends a wealth of experience in the treatment of anxiety, depression, sleep issues, memory problems, trauma-related stress disorders, and attention deficit disorders. She is also experienced working with people who have challenges with interpersonal communication, social anxiety, low self-esteem, overwhelming negative thinking, and sleep problems. She works with patients via both telemedicine and in person.

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