Lifestyle Sleep Deficiency

Published on September 15th, 2013 | by Joe Starks


Athletic Science: Sleep Deficiency

Sleep is one of the most basic and important needs of a human being. As we all know it isn’t enough just to sleep a few hours to get the whole benefits of sleeping itself. The quality of our sleep is just as important as the quantity and we often do not realize that our sleeping quality is pretty low. This might be because of a whole variety of reasons, often coexisting all together in our lives. In this article we’ll look into the need to sleep, what sleep does for us and how lack of sleep can ruin our quality of life in many ways.

What is sleep exactly and why do we need it?

Sleep is actually a very complex natural behavior of animals. Science still is unsure exactly why we sleep and how sleep affects us, but what we are certain of is what happens if we do not sleep. When we sleep we react less to stimuli around us, which means we don’t react to sounds, smells, touch and visual stimuli as much as when we are awake. Sleep lowers our metabolism a bit compared to our wake state, up to 5-10%. Our muscles relax while we are sleeping and there is almost no voluntary muscle movement at all. Brain waves also change while we sleep; changing into slower types than those we have during alertness.

When we do not sleep at all for a period of time we could actually die, but our bodies won’t allow that, forcing us to get some sleep, unless we suffer from a disease called fatal familial insomnia. Not sleeping for quite some time, or sleeping too little can have very adverse effects on our health.

What happens when we do not sleep?

If you do not sleep at all you will very quickly feel very ill once the time passes when you usually would get your sleep. So probably after 12 to 20 hours of sleeplessness you will feel very weak, hazy and even sick. One can get used to that state and be less aware of their lowered senses. Studies have shown that people with prolonged bouts of sleeplessness will get agitated, sensitive and might even become violent.

As far as fitness and productivity goes, studies show that people who sleep too little will have decreased performance in almost everything they do. This is also the case when you only lack a little bit of sleep, even though then the effects might be much less obvious.

Some of us lack only an hour or two of sleep every day, which takes away most of the feeling of sickness totally sleepless people feel, but still reduces our mood, productivity and alertness. People might go feeling tired all day even if they don’t do a lot and have severely decreased desire to do anything pleasant, which can lead to depression.

You can be sleep deprived even when you sleep many hours every day, because the quality of your sleep is just as important as how long you actually sleep for. Sleeping in an uncomfortable position, getting woken up often or suffering from a syndrome like sleep apnea, can reduce our quality of sleep so much that even after ten hours of sleep we feel like we haven’t rested at all.

How to fight sleep deprivation?

If you can’t get more than a couple of hours of sleep a day then you should immediately go to a physician and get some serious help. If your sleeping troubles are of a less severe nature you can simply adjust the things that probably ruin your sleep. Find out what is the most probable cause that is disturbing your sleeping patterns. Usually noise, stress, light and hunger are very good candidates to look out for first. Make sure you bedroom is a place of relaxation, with dim lights, pleasant pillows and mattress, and devoid of noisy, exciting things. Checking your meal times and caffeine consumption might be a good idea as well. Do not leave your sleep troubles unsolved and even if you consider your sleep patterns to be fine there is always room for improvement.

Sleep is important!

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