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How Lack of Sleep Affects You

Man suffering from lack of sleep

There is a single treatment that improves memory, increases concentration, strengthens the immune system and decreases bodily chronic pain (among other alignments). Sound to be good to be true? It gets even better. The treatment is completely free and has no side effects.

The answer is sleep. Sleep is an all-encompassing cure for many daily struggles.

It is a societal norm in the US and many other countries around the world to see sleep as a lesser priority. In order to appear that one is working hard, one must sacrifice sleep. This is seen across college and university campuses, work environments, and even in time spent with friends. Sleep is just not making the cut these days.

Thankfully, due to scientific findings and easy access to information online, awareness of just how detrimental this misconception is to the human body has become increasingly known. People are taking steps towards caring about their wellbeing and their sleep.

That being said, we would like to delve a little deeper into just how important sleep is. By the end of this blog, you may have a completely new outlook on sleep and the steps you take to make sure its quality.

What are the signs of extreme sleepiness?

If “extreme sleepiness” sounds silly, it's not! Lack of sleep due to sleep disorders, chronic pain, and more is a serious problem facing 60% of Americans. Take it from David F. Dinges, a psychologist and sleep expert, who explains that some of the first signs a person experiences from lack of sleep are irritability, moodiness and disinhibition. If someone who is sleep-deprived continues to put off sleep after initial signs, they will begin to experience apathy, slowed speech, flattened emotional responses, impaired memory and an inability to multitask.

If the lack of sleep is furthered, the body will get to a point of putting itself to sleep, resulting in he or she falling into microsleeps (5-10 seconds) that cause lapses in attention such as nodding off while doing an activity like, for example, driving. Then, finally, the individual might experience hypnagogic hallucinations, the beginning of REM sleep. As you can tell, lack of sleep is dangerous and something that our bodies simply cannot go without, no matter how “ high functioning” you may feel you are with lack of sleep.

Amount of Sleep Needed

This will vary depending on the person, however, generally speaking, most healthy adults are able to have 16 hours of wakefulness and need an average of 7-8 hours of sleep a night. That being said, there are individuals who are able to function without sleepiness after as little as six hours of sleep. On the other hand, there are those who cannot perform at their best without any less than 10 hours of sleep. (Van Dongen & Dinges, Principles & Practice of Sleep Medicine, 2000) Although the specific amount of hours necessary to function may vary, the sleep that they do get once they fall asleep must be quality, deep sleep to give the body time to rest and recharge properly.

Health Problems and Lack of Sleep

This is where a high-quality mattress comes in. There are a number of physical problems that can interfere with your ability to fall or stay asleep. For example, arthritis and other conditions that cause pain, backache, or discomfort can make it difficult to sleep well.

If you find yourself tossing and turning and failing to get comfortable due to chronic pain it’s important to consult a physician. Once that is complete, consider investing in a mattress and bed frame that work as a system to ease back pain by providing key spine support.

It is a good idea to talk to a physician or mental health provider about any sleeping problem that recurs or persists for longer than a few weeks.

How to get a good night sleep

Different tactics to fall asleep and stay asleep can be applied to individuals depending on what areas are affecting their lack of sleep. Breath exercises work to calm a racing mind. High quality engineered beds help those who suffer from, for example, chronic back pain.

Speaking more generally, we have provided a list of techniques to combat common sleep problems, according to leading sleep researchers.

  • Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule and bedtime routine
  • Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use
  • Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you awake in the night
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep
  • Get regular exercise
  • Minimize noise, light and excessively hot and cold temperatures where you sleep
  • Develop a regular bedtime and go to bed at the same time each night
  • Try and wake up without an alarm clock
  • Attempt to go to bed earlier every night for a certain period