Sleep deprivation is the condition of not having enough sleep; it can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sleep-restricted state can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain. It adversely affects the brain and cognitive function.
A medical practitioner at Healing Grace Hospital, Dr. Olawale Bello, has said that lack of enough sleep could among other things hurt the immune system.
Bello told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) during a section that sleep deprivation leaves the body open to different ailments. He explained Sleep deprivation as a condition of not having enough sleep; which can be either chronic or acute and advised that in spite of people’s busy schedule, they should make out time to have enough rest for a healthy life.
”As an adult, one need up to 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, but some people don’t know this or decide to just do as they like. Some people don’t even get to sleep at all during the night while some get as low as two or three hours which is not good enough.
Effects of sleep deprivation
The body needs sleep, just as it needs air and food to function at its best. During sleep, your body heals itself and restores its chemical balance. Your brain forges new connections and helps memory retention. Without enough sleep, your brain and body systems won’t function normally. It can also dramatically lower your quality of life. A review of 16 studies found that sleeping for less than 6 to 8 hours a night increases the risk of early death by about 12 percent.
Stimulants like caffeine aren’t enough to override your body’s profound need for sleep. Behind the scenes, chronic sleep deprivation can interfere with your body’s internal systems and cause more than just the initial signs and symptoms.
Central nervous system
The central nervous system is the information highway of your body. Sleep is necessary to keep it functioning properly, but chronic insomnia can disrupt how your body usually sends information.
During sleep, pathways form between nerve cells (neurons) in your brain that help you remember new information you’ve learned. Sleep deprivation leaves your brain exhausted, so it can’t perform its duties as well. You may also find it more difficult to concentrate or learn new things. The signals your body sends may also come at a delay, decreasing your coordination skills and increasing your risks for accidents.
Sleep deprivation also negatively affects your mental abilities and emotional state. You may feel more impatient or prone to mood swings. It can also compromise decision-making processes and creativity.
If sleep deprivation continues long enough, you could start having hallucinations — seeing or hearing things that aren’t there. A lack of sleep can also trigger mania in people who have manic depression and other psychological risks including impulsive behaviour, depression, paranoia and suicidal thoughts.
You may also end up experiencing micro-sleep in the day. During these episodes, you’ll fall asleep for a few seconds or minutes without realizing it. Micro-sleep is out of your control and can be extremely dangerous if you’re driving. It can also make you more prone to injury due to trips and falls.
While you sleep, your immune system produces protective, infection-fighting substances like cytokines. It uses these substances to combat foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Cytokines also help you sleep, giving your immune system more energy to defend your body against illness.
According to Bello, lack of sleep could also cause some skin disorders. Redness, puffiness, dark circles, and bags are all signs that you’re not getting enough shut-eye and the sleep-deprived tend to get more wrinkles, lines, swelling, and droopiness. “This is because it may be that the body misses out on the hormone control and tissue repair that happens in deep sleep stages,” he said.
Sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from building up its forces. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body may not be able to fend off invaders. It may also take you longer to recover from illness. Long-term sleep deprivation also increases your risk for chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
”Once you are not getting enough sleep, your skin may soon show it,” Bello said. He added that waking up with a sore throat, dry mouth, or a headache could also point to a medical reason that one is sleeping poorly.
The medical expert however advised that regular exercise especially workout that gets heart pumping should be promoted as it helps deeper sleep. “It is good if one can stick to a schedule, which means going to bed and waking up about the same time each day and keeping the room quiet and dark also helps,” Bello added.