To be able to better understand what is sleep deprivation, one should first try to understand what sleep is. Till date, it is not entirely clear why people need sleep; however, what happens when people don’t sleep is quite clear. Everyone should be aware of the requirements of sleep, the dangers associated with sleep deprivation and the false assumptions people make about sleep.
Sufficient Amount of Sleep People Need
The sufficient amount of sleep the human body needs is 8 hours at best (and 6 hours minimum). But the most important thing for people to see is whether they wake up feeling refreshed and energetic or not. In some cases, people feel refreshed after 6 ½ hours of sleep, whereas some need 9 or 10 hours.
The Benefits of Sleep
No one really knows why sleep is needed by the body. The best answer to this so far is that sleep helps in restoring the body and mind to think and function better. There are some theories that suggest that nighttime dreams help in consolidating memories. Other theories suggest that sleep has an electrically recharging effect on the brain which helps in restoring chemicals to their proper functionality levels in the brain.
The Difference between Tiredness and Sleepiness
If a person does a hundred jumping jacks, or runs a track several times, he would feel tired but not sleepy. On the other hand, when a person stays awake for hours the sleepy feeling sets in, which is referred to as ‘sleepiness’. Tiredness occurs as a result of physical fatigue and sleepiness occurs as a result of lack of sleep.
Do People Have Similar Sleep Requirements?
No, sleep requirements vary with every individual. The requirements vary both in time and the amount. Some people can be true night owls, and some people can be true morning larks. That is to say that some people can be genetically inclined to be ‘people people’, whereas some can be ‘night people’. Some people are long sleepers and some are short sleepers. Some may require more sleep at an average, whereas some may require much less sleep. So, the sleep requirements to make people feel energized and refreshed can vary to quite an extent.
Sleep deprivation refers to the lack of sleep and the lack of sufficient amounts of sleep the body gets. There are many things that can give rise to sleep deprivation, such as physical illnesses, psychiatric problems, and many more. All these things can have dangerous consequences which must be avoided to ensure good health. Sleep deprivation is commonly seen in people today, especially with the busy, stressful and time constraining lifestyles. It has become something most people are trying to deal with on a regular basis. When sleep deprivation becomes severe, it becomes life threatening. This is a fact people are not always aware of.
Examples of Sleep Deprivation
To state particular examples – sleep deprivation is most frequently seen in students, who often find themselves struggling to stay awake through tight class schedules and workloads. This not only affects their social lives, but also their health. Sleep deprivation is also seen in young children, as they require more sleep as compared to adults due to their growth and development process.
Most people find it difficult to sleep when they are suffering of anxiety and stress. Even if they do sleep, they have a frequently interrupted and disturbed sleep, eventually leading to sleep deprivation. Some people have health problems which deprive them of sleep, for example, severe coughing, body aches and allergies.
This may sound unusual, but in some cases people actually work towards being sleep deprived. They do this for some of the psychological side effects of sleep deprivation, which include surges of mania and hallucinations. A typical example are the ‘Desert Fathers’, who are religious mystics of the early Christian church. They have been known to induce sleep deprivation as a way of achieving spiritual awakenings.
Negative Side Effects
Sleep deprivation has many mental and physical negative side effects. The most immediate side effect usually seen is the slowing down of mental responsiveness and awareness. This slows down the physical responsiveness of the body as well, which makes people feel dull and in turn delays reflexes. People are also faced with short memory loses or complete memory losses. In severe cases, people suffer of dizziness and hallucinations. Other physical effects of sleep deprivation include nausea, fainting and headaches. General psychological side effects include psychotic behaviors and moodiness, which tend to intensify sleep deprivation.
People struggling against sleep deprivation are on a painful journey to understand what lack of sleep is, and why it has such hazardous and life threatening side effects. In an attempt to understand the impact sleep deprivation has on the body, one must first try to know what is sleep deprivation.