Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Mind and Body

Disruption to sleep can be caused by a number of different factors, but whatever the reason, the effects of sleep deprivation are always negative. Relationships, work and overall wellbeing all take a downturn when sleep is in short supply. Logical decisions become difficult and tempers become short and a person, different to who you actually are, soon emerges.

A number of reasons behind disrupted sleep are within your control to change, which may involve adjustments to lifestyle and at the extreme medical procedures may be required.

However, all of the changes listed below are within your power to achieve and the end result will mean a good night’s sleep and a return to normalcy.

1. Stress

Stress is the number one cause of sleep deprivation and so it has taken the top spot in this list. Long days at work, deadlines, family pressures, poor finances and just the general speed of life are sure to make at least one night’s sleep a restless one. However, if the stress cycle isn’t disrupted this one night of broken sleep becomes several and before you know it sleep becomes an unnatural occurrence.

Possible solutions: Be selfish. It may seem hard when a number of your problems may be connected to those you love, but taking time to be by yourself can bring a greater sense of clarity to the situation and may allow you to see ‘the bigger picture’ and ‘the bigger answer.’

You need time away from your stress, which if left in constant control of your life will become your life. So the next time you experience a sleepless, stress-filled night take the evening off; treat yourself to a shopping trip, visit a gallery or (my personal favourite) go to the cinema- a change in reality could do you good.

That said you shouldn’t completely escape your responsibilities, but allowing them to take over your every waking thought could mean that you will never come up with an answer to your problems. A small amount of time spent away from your problems could give you that window of insight, which could rid you of your stress and return you to a restful night’s sleep.

2. Lifestyle

Sad to say, but many of your habits and lifestyle choices could be the cause of your sleep problem. Caffeine is an obvious source of this disruption and drinking coffee and sodas are guaranteed to cause a certain sleep-destroying buzz. However, there are hidden sources of caffeine, which should be considered. Decaffeinated coffee may seem like a better choice, but each can still contains 20milligrams of caffeine. Even more surprising sources include chocolate, ice cream, energy water, breath mints and even sunflower seeds. Alcohol is also a major cause of sleep deprivation and a night’s bender may see you arriving home at 4 in the morning, but the alcohol you drink is sure to see you rise at 7. Even a small drink before bed can cause disruption to your sleep pattern, as, at the most basic level, alcohol is a diuretic and is sure to have you out of bed and heading for the toilet.

Possible Solutions: Obviously cutting out or decreasing the sources listed above is the first step you could take to ensure a good night’s sleep, but there are other lifestyle changes, which could aid your slumber.

At least 30 minutes of exercise a day, fitted in whenever you can manage, can not only improve your overall wellbeing, but can help with a full night’s sleep. However, it is always best to stop any exercise before 8pm, as this can hinder, rather than help your sleep pattern. A slightly more luxurious lifestyle change could involve a nightly bath. Taking a dip at least 2 hours before your usual bedtime could help alert your body to sleep, as research has found that your body is always cooler when you sleep. The heat of the bath and the subsequent cooling, naturally tells your body that it is time to sleep, which leads to an unforced, un-medicated slumber.

Keeping to a regular sleep schedule also helps the body and mind keep to a sleeping pattern and will automatically ease you into a sleeping mode when the routine time comes.

3. Snoring

Some may find snoring to be an unusual addition to the list, but polls conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (2005) have found that snoring affects 6 out of 10 adults or 59% of the population. Snoring not only affects the sufferer but often their partner or family, who may endure countless nights of interrupted sleep. Snoring can be caused by many things and most commonly involves items which cause the throat of the snorer to become partially blocked, due to over-relaxed throat muscles. Coffee, alcohol and ironically sleeping-tablets can all lead to this over-relaxed state.

Failing to get a good night’s sleep because of someone else’s problem can lead to feelings of annoyance and resentment and rifts can begin to occur within otherwise good relationships.

Possible Solutions: Again avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed is probably the best way of stopping your snoring problems. Your sleeping position could also be the cause and it is always better to sleep on your side, rather than on your back. If these tips do not work, there are always over the counter nasal strips and sprays to alleviate your problem. If you have tried and tested all of these methods and have found no joy, a visit to your doctor may be necessary, who can recommend a whole range of medical procedures for the treatment of your snoring problem.

Sleep is necessary for the very best version of you and problems with sleep can lead to very different person emerging. The problems and suggestions above are just some of the ways you can encourage a good night’s sleep and be at your very best.

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