Monday, July 15, 2013

What are signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation?

Feeling tired or drowsy at any time during the day is a symptom of not having enough sleep. Being able to fall asleep within 5 minutes of lying down in the evening also may be a sign a person may be suffering from sleep deprivation. People who suffer from sleep deprivation often experience so-called "microsleeps," which are short bursts of sleep in an otherwise awake person.

Sleep-deprived people perform poorly on tests such as driving simulators and tests of hand-eye coordination. Sleep deprivation can also magnify the effects of alcohol, meaning that a sleep-deprived person will be more susceptible to becoming impaired after alcohol consumption than a well-rested person. Caffeine and other stimulants cannot successfully overcome the drowsiness associated with sleep deprivation.

Common symptoms of sleep deprivation include:                                   
  • purple ball   tiredness 
  • purple ball   irritability, edginess 
  • purple ball   inability to tolerate stress 
  • purple ball   problems with concentration and memory 
  • purple ball   behavioral, learning or social problems 
  • purple ball   frequent infections 
  • purple ball   blurred vision 
  • purple ball   vague discomfort 
  • purple ball   alterations in appetite 
  • purple ball   activity intolerance
It must be noted that many of these symptoms can be related to disabling conditions. This overlap of symptoms may make it difficult to determine if they are caused by sleep deprivation or the disability.

Some suggestions to help you determine the cause of your sleep deprivation include talking to your health care provider, and keeping a log (that contains signs and symptoms, situations affecting your sleep, medications, diet, etc.). Remember to take the log with you when you discuss your sleep problems with your health care provider.

10 Sleep Deprivation Symptoms

1. Sleepy – Yup, lack of sleep has been known to make you sleepy. Yawning and slurred speech are obvious signs that you’re neglecting your down time.

2. Poor cognitive function – Reduced sleep will severely impact your ability to concentrate, pay attention and make good judgements. This can be a problem at work and can seriously affect a child’s learning at school. A lack of sleep may affect your short-term memory, mental arithmetic and your ability to gauge risks.  

3. You’re easily stressed – If you’re struggling to sleep, your tolerance to stress is virtually nil. Sleep deprivation causes irritability, mood swings, increased stress hormone levels, bad tempers and feelings of impatience or nervousness. This not only puts a strain on your own health, but on relations with friends, family and colleagues.

4. Poor motor skills – Being tired can have similar effects to being drunk. Hand tremors and poor reaction times mean you’re dangerous behind the wheel. Remember that caffeine and other stimulants are not effective against severe sleep deprivation

5. Medical problemsSleep deprivation puts a real drain on your body and puts you at increased risk of diabetes, higher blood pressure, fatigue, head aches and infections. Chronic tiredness can also make you more sensitive to the cold.

6. Aching muscles – Without sleep you body can’t produce sufficient growth hormone to help your muscles recover and repair. Even if you’re not training, a lack of sleep can leave you feeling tired and sore all over.

7. Depression – Over time, poor sleep patterns may lead or contribute to low moods and depression. This is characterised by many symptoms including feelings of sadness, anxiety and restlessness.

8. Psychiatric problems - Extended periods of sleep deprivation can lead to disorientation, hallucinations and paranoia.

9. Eye problems – Apart from the dark eyes and bags, lack of sleep can lead to nystagmus (rapid involuntary rhythmic eye movement) as well as blurred vision and difficulty focusing.

10. Weight change - Sleep deprivation can cause varying changes in appetite, leading to possible weight loss or gain. Being tired will affect your tolerance levels and with reduced control you’re more likely to reach for unhealthy foods.