Sleep Deprivation | Causes of Sleep Deprivation | Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep Deprivation Overview

Sleep deprivation is defined as lack of adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation develops as a result of periods of less sleep than you normally get.

The average person gets 8 hours of sleep for every 16 hours they are awake. Thus, individuals exist in a daily equilibrium in which a relatively small amount of sleep loss causes increased sleepiness i.e. sleep deprivation.

Continued reduction in sleep results in a larger sleep debt and individuals can cope with this sleep deficit in different ways. When the sleep debt reaches a threshold where internal coping behaviors become overwhelmed, sleep will be imminent. As per a research nearly 70 million Americans are suffering with sleep deprivation.

Caffeine, pain, excitement, activity, these things push the balance in the awake direction, but the sleep deprivation side may keep getting heavier until nothing can oppose it.

Studies suggest that 17 hours of wakefulness, which is our average day, would be equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .05 in terms of performance. In 24 hours of wakefulness you'd become legally drunk.

Also, sleep is a healing process that affects the immune system. You may be more prone to illness if you don't sleep enough over a period of time. Some data show that sleep deprivation may also speed aging and affect memory.

Causes Of Sleep Deprivation

The causes of sleep deprivation in students are that teenagers have social pressures today that were not present in past years. Students are balancing social and personal relationships, academics and extra-curricular activities. These are all factors that make a teenager's wake-up time earlier and their amount of sleep shorter.

School stress, anxiety and personal-life worries also add to sleep deprivation. Alcohol contributes to sleep deprivation. Consuming alcohol initially will make you fall asleep faster, but it will disrupt sleep later in the night and cause you to wake up

Causes of sleep deprivation in workers is adhering to a regular pattern of sleep is extremely hard for shift workers. Working nights, 12-hour shifts or irregular shifts causes special sleep related problems that may result in more serious problems, such as workplace accidents or deaths.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

The signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation may not be so apparent, at least initially. Behavioral changes such as restlessness and irritability may occur within 48 hours. Disorientation and slurred speech may precede psychotic behavior, which can occur within 96 hours.

If a person is deprived primarily of NREM sleep, he may experience fatigue, apathy, speech deterioration, poor judgment, and lack of energy. The nurse may observe ptosis and lack of facial expression.

REM sleep deprivation may cause the patient to feel continually tired and have difficulty concentrating. When deprived of REM sleep for greater than 24 to 48 hours, the patient may experience irritability, confusion, poor impulse control, paranoia, and hallucination, or exhibit aggressive behavior.

If an individual does not obtain enough sleep to meet his biological needs, this sleep debt will accumulate over time until the brain signals the body to obtain sleep.

If sleep deprivation is prolonged, when the patient finally enters sleep, it consists of predominantly Stage 2 and the deep recovery sleep of Stage 4. REM sleep usually does not occur until the second or third night.


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