For those of you that struggle to regularly get a good night's sleep, sleep deprivation can take over and impact your ability to effectively function in the everyday world. If not handled correctly, the effects of being sleep deprived can be both physically and mentally challenging. The good news, however, is that there are steps you can take to manage and overcome your sleep deprivation symptoms - and with that, have a more peaceful and healthy quality of life.
What is Sleep Deprivation?
Before we look at the ways in which you can overcome sleep deprivation, let’s first identify what it is.
In its simplest form; sleep deprivation means you’re sleeping for a less amount of time than your body and mind needs in order to recharge and feel healthy.
For those that usually sleep well, a bad night’s sleep is going to result in a foggy brain the next day and a great sleep later that evening. However, if you’re constantly suffering with insomnia or involuntary broken sleep, sleep deprivation brings with it a range of different symptoms.
Let’s take a look at them…
Sleep Deprivation Side Effects
Prior to finding the solution, we must first identify the problem. Some of the symptoms won’t make for great reading but remember with the right approach you can become free of the struggles of being a sleep deprived person.
Common side effects:
- Memory Issues
- Sleep Paralysis
- Mood Swings
- Weakened Immune System
- High Blood Pressure
- Weight Gain
- Low Sex Drive
- Poor Balance
In extreme cases, sleep deprivation can lead to impulsive behaviour, paranoia and depression. If you feel your health is at a greater risk, it’s advised that you seek support from your GP as soon as possible.
Why Does Sleep Deprivation Impact Our Health?
If you’re wondering how a lack of sleep can have such an impact on a person's well being, it’s important that you understand how important sleep is.
Sleep is just as equally vital to humans as food and water. Without it our body is unable to be at its peak condition. Like a domino effect, different elements within us that help us function, begin to weaken and shut down if we’re not getting the correct amount of sleep.
Thankfully, sleep deprivation symptoms won’t all arrive at the same time. There are different sleep deprivation stages, and if you acknowledge them early enough you can prevent them from progressing.
Early signs that you may be carrying the burden of being sleep deprived are constant yawning, tiredness and poor concentration. If you’re someone who is constantly finding that you lack energy and the ability to focus, then it’s worth looking into your quality of sleep.
Overcoming Sleep Deprivation
On paper, the cure for sleep deprivation is simple - get more sleep. But we know that is much easier said than done, especially for those with a history of poor quality sleep.
There are techniques you can use that will help you to feel more relaxed at night, helping to remove the anxiety of worrying about falling asleep.
Exercise can be a scary thought for those that don’t get enough of it. Whether we like it or not, the fact remains that our bodies need regular exercise in order to be healthy - and this extends to our quality of sleep.
As little as 10 minutes exercise per day on a regular basis has shown to improve sleep quality. Not only does exercise make the body tired, it also releases endorphins in your brain that help to settle the effects of anxiety and worry. Having your mind centred through a good workout will promote a more peaceful energy within you, allowing you to feel more relaxed when you decide to go to bed.
Have a Consistent Bedtime
Our bodies and minds benefit from a solid routine. Our brain becomes accustomed to certain actions and behaviours and expects to work in a certain way at different points throughout the day. If you have been experiencing sleep deprivation, you may have developed some unhelpful habits along the way. This includes staying up later because you don’t feel tired or ready to go to bed.
Going to bed at a consistent time, even when you don’t feel ready to sleep, will teach your brain that it’s in a relaxed environment and it should be preparing to shut down. Consistency gives you discipline, allowing you to focus your energy on getting a good night's sleep.
Hydrate Yourself Properly
Sleep deprivation also comes from broken sleep. If you’re a person who gets up several times per night to go to the toilet, then your sleep is going to be impacted negatively because of it.
The reason you’re getting up constantly could be because you’re drinking too much water throughout the evening. With this in mind, ensure you’re drinking evenly throughout the day and try avoid fluids one hour before you go to bed.
This will reduce pressure on your bladder and result in you having less need to visit the bathroom through the night.
No Electronics In Your Bedroom
In our previous post How to Get to Sleep, we spoke about the importance of reducing the use of electronics before going to bed.
Going a step further, we advise that you refrain from using electronic devices in your bedroom at any point throughout the day. Here’s why…
Making your bedroom a place that’s only for rest will help you to feel settled and calm each time you enter it. Tech devices such as TVs, Laptops and Smartphones keep the brain running at a fast pace and can be a cause for anxiety. Removing them completely from your bedroom will make it a calm and welcoming environment for relaxation and sleep.
With no noise distractions in your bedroom, we know this can lead to your thoughts keeping you awake at night. Maybe you’re worried about your job or replaying a conversation over in your mind. There are many things that keep us awake at night and keeping them locked up gives them nowhere to go.
The process of journaling has shown to be a useful technique for helping your mind to feel lighter. As soon as you wake up and just before you’re about to sleep, take a pen and paper and write down any thoughts and feelings that are concerning you at that moment.
The act of doing this gives them validation. It takes them out of your mind and puts them into the real world. It’s a very therapeutic process, with the idea of it relieving you of the stress that these thoughts are bringing you.
Less stress will equal a more tranquil state of being - improving the chance of you sleeping well.
Sleep deprivation and the symptoms and stages that come with it are not pleasant. That’s why it’s a good idea to tackle the situation right away. Don’t let fatigue and anxiety get you down, and aim to deal with being sleep deprived in a positive way.
Having a ‘yes I can’ attitude is the first stepping stone to a brighter future. Implementing the techniques listed above will help you greatly along the way.