There is cold math to loss of sleep. The lesser you sleep, the unhealthier you get. You get to feel all sorts of uneasiness the next morning. You feel tired, weak, and seemingly out of wits. In more serious instances, you feel sick and your heart rate is low. Then all of a sudden you just make a fool out of yourself and irritates everyone around you for no reason.
Sleep deprivation is something you want to steer clear from. Oftentimes that we tend to ignore our loss of sleep simply because we are too trusting of your body to get us through the day. But every precious hour of sleep that we throw away accumulates to impending health consequences that we may have to pay dearly in the foreseeable future. As we get little hours of bedtime, the more our body becomes prone to diseases since we are not getting that recovery quota to back up our immune system. Heart problems, obesity, and poor social interaction are just some of the many consequences sleep deprivation can inflict upon us.
Sleep Deprivation Causes
There are a plethora of reasons why you are not getting your sleep on track. These include:
- shift work
- meeting deadlines
- a sleeping environment that is noisy or not the right temperature
- using electronic devices close to bedtime or keeping them in the bedroom
- medical problems, such as depression, sleep apnea, or chronic pain
- caring for another person during the night
We always tend to think that sleep deprivation is only a mindset. Just block out negative thoughts in our mind and we can snooze off comfortably the rest of the night. Or could be just the hustle and bustle in our daily lives that we can easily adjust to. What we do not realize is that there might be a sleeping disorder that creeps into our system without our knowledge, and the most common of them all is sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that causes irregular breathing patterns during sleep due to airway obstruction. To put it simply, a person with sleep apnea is most likely to not sleep well due to frequent stops in his breathing.
Statistically, sleep apnea affects about 22 million American residents with about 80 percent experiencing mild to severe cases.
Treatment for sleep apnea usually involves adjustments in lifestyle, medicines, or even CPAP therapy.
Sleep Deprivation Effects
Lack of sleep can shape and alter our levels of health and in a negative way. Some of the health aspects that it can directly affect are:
- Immune system: Simply put, lack of sleep robs our body of precious time to recover, making ourselves at risk for various diseases.
- Weight: Sleep can affect the hormones that control feelings of hunger and fullness. It can also trigger the release of insulin. Changes to sleep can cause increased fat storage, changes in body weight, and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Cardiovascular system: Sleep aids the heart vessels heal and rebuild to regulate blood pressure, sugar levels, and inflammation control. Lack of sleep may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Hormone levels: Sleep shortage can affect hormone production, particularly growth hormones and testosterone. As they say, if you are short, most probably that you did not get enough sleep. In addition, lack of sleep can release additional stress hormones.
- Brain: Lack of sleep can impair the prefrontal cortex, which handles reasoning, and the amygdala, which deals with emotion. This means, sleep deprivation could make it harder for a person to form new memories, which can affect learning.
- Fertility: Poor sleep may affect the production of hormones that boost fertility.
Sleep Deprivation and Personal Relationships
The notion that sleep deprivation greatly deals a big blow to our health is always true. But one thing that lack of sleep can damage without us even fully knowing it is our personal relationships. Broken promises, lack of time, or even daytime clumsiness could be attributed to the fact that we just didn’t get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation is like falling into an icy river. Our body goes into an inhibited state wherein our brain’s ability to decipher functions gets whittled down. Whenever we are not sleeping well, chances are that we lose the ability to perform day-to-day activities: Whether it be eating, working, conversations with our partners, social outings, or just getting through the day.
This is why sleep is so important in maintaining our personal relationships because plenty or lack of it thereof can make or break it.
There are three ways that sleep that lack of sleep impacts relationships.
- Out of control emotions
There are just some days that we are so exhausted that we forgot we are talking in front of our significant others and accidentally yelled at them. That right there is a relationship wrecker.
Whenever you are sleep-deprived, the amygdala or the part of the brain that ties emotions to memories doesn’t function properly. According to a study by neurologist and author W. Christopher Winter, lack of sleep can cause the amygdala to release fewer neurotransmitters than required. In other words, sleep deprivation drives us to overreact to situations that normally would not rattle us.
- Sickness due to lack of sleep
Aside from sheer exhaustion, insufficient sleep can cause common health issues such as colds, fever, and other common illnesses that prevent us from spending time with our loved ones. Over time, being constantly absent from social gatherings or romantic dates due to sickness can wear down a relationship.
- Broken sleep schedules due to odd shifts
Being engaged in a relationship requires time and this a universally accepted truth. However, there are times that our work schedule just doesn’t permit us to do so. Say, for example, your partner works 9 to 5 shifts however in your case you work in a graveyard schedule. Maybe for the first few days, you can push it through your dates and all but over time you can feel that energy slowly fading away. It is because of the lack of sleep you are getting. The tendency is that you are absent-minded which results in arguments. So you make a harsh choice of choosing to go out or just make up for your lost sleeping time and either way, one of you will end up on the bad side.
How to fight sleep deprivation?
There are a lot of ways to solve sleep deprivation problems, ranging from treatments that cater to mild to severe cases. Some of which you can do at your own discretion while the others require your doctor’s discretion:
- Engage in physical activity for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day. Preferably, do it at least five or six hours before bedtime. More than likely that your body will automatically shut off due to exhaustion.
- Perform some relaxation techniques and other therapies such as meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, and guided imagery to condition your body into a stationary state.
- Avoid taking too many substances that naturally wakes you up. Top of the list are caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
- Sedatives and sleeping medications are available in the market but only take them under the advice of your physician.
- In cases of severe sleep deprivation due to sleep apnea, you can proceed to undergo CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure therapy. This of course should be advised by your doctor. In this therapy, the use of a CPAP device is Just plug in the mask that is connected to the device and it will supply air to the obstructed airway for better breathing. Make sure to acquire a CPAP cleaner to keep it clean and safe to use. Store the mask, humidifier, and filter inside the CPAP cleaner and let the technology do the cleaning for you.
- If you are financially struggling to undergo CPAP therapy, you can address your sleep apnea little by little until you can effectively manage it. Start by changing up your lifestyle and choose to live healthily. Altering your sleep position also helps.
Start fixing your relationship, fast!
There is an old adage “Once is enough, twice is too much, thrice is stupidity” and this quote very much applies to your sleep deprivation issues. The longer it stays, the more that you are putting your relationship at risk as well. Strike fast and do what needs to be done to get your sleep back on track, and never worry about yelling to your partner ever again.