Sleep is essential for staying healthy. When a lack of sleep is suspected, it may require a determined effort to get more. The effort, however, is worth it since life is more enjoyable when you feel refreshed. If a sleep deficit is chronic, it may take many weeks of adequate sleep to fully recover.
Causes and Development
Lack of sleep can occur a number of ways. Total sleep deprivation is complete absence of sleep. Partial is insufficient sleep night after night. Sleep can also appear to be sufficient in amount yet be poor in quality. This occurs with sleep apnea
, marked by heavy snoring and occasional gasps for air – the person is awakened often hundreds of times a night without knowing it, gulping air due to a closed airway in the throat.
Signs and Symptoms
Sleep deprivation symptoms include irritability, fatigue
, blurred vision, slurring of speech, memory lapses, and inability to concentrate. In extreme stages bizarre behavior and hallucinations
Diagnosis and Tests
A common measure of sleep deficit uses the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Score your answers to the eight questions below as follows:
0 = no chance of dozing
1 = slight chance of dozing
2 = moderate chance of dozing
3 = high chance of dozing
- Sitting and reading
- Watching TV
- Sitting inactive in a public place (e.g. a theater or a meeting)
- As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break
- Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit
- Sitting and talking to someone
- Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol
- In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in traffic
...and add the total score.
If your score is 1-6, you are getting enough sleep; 7-8 is common but 9 or more means you should think about seeking the advice of a sleep specialist.
In a February, 2011 study published in European Heart Journal
it was reported that researchers at the University of Warwick have linked a lack of sleep to a range of disorders which often result in early death. This major long-term study followed over 470,000 patients in 8 countries for between 7 and 25 years.
According to this research, the current trend of late nights and early mornings creates chronic lack of sleep, which in turn produces hormones and chemicals in the body that increase the risk of developing heart disease, strokes and other conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol