Sleepless nights will happen to everyone at some point or another. You can probably count the dozens of times you’ve complained about being “sleep deprived” off the top of your head right now. But the truth is that sleep deprivation is much more serious than people think. And the longer you spend accumulating sleep deprivation, the more likely it is to have a disastrous effect on your overall health. Below, we’ll tell you all about acute sleep deprivation, chronic sleep deprivation, and tips you can use to keep these conditions from harming your health.
Occasional Sleep Deprivation
Over 90% of adults will have a sleepless night every once in a while. This is referred to in medical circles as acute sleep deprivation. In general, this type of sleep deprivation may only have mild negative effects on your health, if you notice any at all. Usually, you’ll experience these negative effects within the first 24 to 36 hours after your restless night. Some of these symptoms include:
- Overwhelming urge to yawn frequently
- Impulsive tendencies
- Trouble remembering things
- Intense mood swings
- Dull complexion
- Dark circles under your eyes
- Unhealthy food cravings
- Making bad decisions
- Lack of motor control
That last one can be especially dangerous if you operate heavy machinery for a living or have a particularly long work commute. It’ll make you more likely to get into an accident both on the job and on the road. Although rare, these accidents have the potential to be fatal. Certain studies show that driving a car while acutely sleep deprived can be just as risky as driving under the influence of 1-3 alcoholic drinks.
This may sound a little scary so far, but there is some good news. With acute sleep deprivation, you can alleviate the symptoms above with a good night’s rest the following evening. A strong power nap in the afternoon may also be helpful. However, too much sleep deprivation will eventually have a cumulative effect. When restless nights pile up over time, the consequences will be much worse than dark circles and too many yawns.
Chronic Sleep Deprivation
Unfortunately, chronic sleep deprivation is an incredibly common thing. In the United States alone, over 40 million adults suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. This chronic deficit has many negative effects on your overall health. Some of these can even become permanent if the issue isn’t properly addressed.
First and foremost, getting too little sleep (or getting poor quality sleep) can you make you gain weight. When you don’t sleep properly, the hormones which control your metabolism fall out of balance. These hormones are ghrelin – the “hunger” hormone – and leptin, the “full” hormone. In a healthy body, you only produce ghrelin when your body needs calories, and you produce leptin when you have eaten just enough to fuel yourself. But in a sleep-deprived body, too much ghrelin gets produced, leading to intense food cravings. More often than not, these cravings lead you towards sugary, fatty foods rather than healthy choices. It also fails to produce enough leptin, which protects you from overeating. Most people know that when you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. If you gain too much weight and keep it on for many years, it’s easy to develop chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, or type 2 diabetes, among other things.
Furthermore, chronic sleep deprivation can give you actual brain damage. Temporary memory problems and poor motor skills are only the tip of the iceberg. If left unchecked, you could make yourself vulnerable to depression and other mood disorders. Several days in a row with little or no sleep can cause visual and auditory hallucinations. Impulsive decisions or actions will become much more frequent. Erratic thoughts can leave you stressed out and eventually manifest as chronic anxiety or panic attacks. Over the months and years that your unhealthy sleep habits continue, these will become more permanent and more devastating.
When the brain accumulates too much physical damage, it can eventually become fatal after a certain amount of time. Animal studies have shown that continued sleep deprivation is definitely fatal, even in as little as 7 to 10 days. Fortunately, death from sleep deprivation in humans is very rare, and there are no known cases reported. But this doesn’t mean that several days of sleep deprivation won’t – for example – get you into a deadly accident.
Long-term sleep deprivation makes the likelihood of serious accidents much more common with time. Factory, dock, and warehouse workers are extremely vulnerable to this based on their odd sleeping schedules and the abundance of heavy machinery they work with. Even those with a normal desk job can get into an accident on the road if they have gone weeks or months (or longer) getting poor sleep at night. And you aren’t just putting yourself in danger, either. Pilots, surgeons, air traffic controllers, and the like have caused serious – and sometimes fail – accidents due to chronic sleep deprivation.
Thankfully, There Are Solutions
Whether your poor quality sleep is causing acute or chronic sleep deprivation, there are things you can do to help eliminate it from your life. For starters, stay away from harsh, chemical sleep aids. Yes, we know that most people reach for an over-the-counter sleeping pill or ask their doctor for a prescription sleep aid – but this doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the quality sleep necessary for your brain and body to operate at their best. In some cases, these drugs can alter your brain in ways that make it difficult or impossible to get a restorative rest when you don’t take them. These effects can last for months or even years, depending on how long you take these drugs.
In our expert opinion, the best thing you can do for your health and safety is take a sleep aid that is made from natural ingredients. We’ve reviewed many of them, but we believe that Avinol PM is the safest and most effective formula you can get. If you’re ready to start sleeping better, go ahead and check it out.