Sleep deprivation is defined as a condition in which the body not being provided with ample sleep, leading to problems with normal functioning. This is something that all of us have experienced in our daily lives. The fast paced modern lifestyle involves long work hours, weekend partying and a late night culture which often leaves us without proper sleep. After all, sleep is the one aspect of life that everyone is ready to sacrifice without a second thought. But we tend to forget that there are many short and long term troubles associated with sleep deprivation. I am reminded of a sleep deprived co-worker who had to make an important presentation and standing in front of the client, groggy after a night of partying, he realized that he was carrying a gym bag instead of his laptop bag. This resulted in nothing more than a funny story but there are also many serious problems that can be caused by lack of sleep:
Lack of sleep over a long term can lead to major health problems. Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease have been linked directly with sleep deprivation. Life expectancy of people who do not get ample sleep has also been shown to be lower than average. Even short term sleep deprivation has been shown to cause physiological changes such as increased stress, increased inflammation and impaired control of blood glucose. Though studies have not been able to show how exactly lack of sleep causes these problems, there is no doubt about the fact that there is definite connection. Obesity, hypertension and mood disorders have also been linked to this.
Cause of Accidents:
Sleep loss is a major public hazard as it impairs the reflexes and cognitive processes of the mind. Drowsiness while driving has been shown to be one of the biggest causes of road accidents. Lack of sleep affects alertness, concentration and reasoning abilities. Many work related accidents have also been caused due to sleep impairment. In fact, forget these everyday accidents. Even major catastrophes of the 20th century, such as the Chernobyl Nuclear meltdown and the Three Mile Island disaster have been directly related to the lack of sleep of the workers.
Lack of Sex Drive:
Research has shown that sleep deprivation causes a lower libido and less interest in sex. This is true for both men and women. It leads to lack of energy and increase in tension which could be the cause for a lower sex drive. Improper sleep results in lower testosterone levels among men. This has been proven in men with sleep apnea, a respiratory condition that impairs sleep according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Long term sleep impairment has also been linked with depression and mental instability. People suffering from insomnia are five times more likely to suffer from depression. Depression and sleep deprivation fuel each other and leave the patient a complete mental wreck. But it can also work both ways. Having good sleeping habits can automatically help keep depression at bay.