Sleep Deprivation


What is sleep?
Sleep is such a process that is crucially needed in order to provide rest to brain and body. During sleep, the brain in humans and other mammals undergoes a characteristic cycle of brain-wave activity that includes intervals of dreaming.

Sleep is very important, for body, mind and our general well-being

Sleep is usually divided into five stages. When you have passed through all five stages, you start over at stage one. One such sequence is called a sleep cycle. Here is a short description of those five stages of sleep:

Stage 1: Drowsiness : Your heart rate slows down, you start to breathe slower and your metabolism slows down. This stage usually lasts five to twenty minutes.
Stage 2: Light sleep: Brain activity is lower than during stage 1. This type of sleep constitutes about half of the total sleep time.
Stages 3 & 4: Deep sleep: During these stages the brain activity is at its lowest. The body produces almost no stress hormones but a lot of growth hormones.
Final stage: Dream sleep, REM sleep: During this stage the eyes are moving rapidly behind the eyelids, hence the name Rapid Eye Movement (REM). During this stage breathing gets faster, the heart beats faster and the blood pressure rises. The brain now works in a similar way as when we are awake. You can dream during all stages of sleep, but dreams are most common during this stage.

Sleep deprivation:
Sleep deprivation is an overall dearth of the all-important amount of sleep or in simple words, not having enough sleep. It is rather more common in teenagers these days. The major cause of it is taking high consumptions of caffeine which interrupts the circadian rhythms; a daily cycle of activity observed in many living organisms.

Sleep deprived people can also be called as Insomniacs. Insomnia is habitual sleeplessness; inability to sleep. Elaborating, I can say that it is defined as a difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakening during the night or a feeling of not getting enough rest. It can be chronic or acute. Acute insomnia is often due to external factors, for example a death in the family. Insomnia is often not an illness itself but it is a symptom of other problems including psychosocial conditions such as depression, anxiety.

Overall effects of sleep deprivation:
The effects of sleep deprivation are short-term and long-term as well.

  • Obesity
  • Early aging
  • Chronic memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Short term memory deterioration
  • Weakened immune system
  • Exhaustion
  • Mood swings
  • Diminished ability to come-up with plan and carry out activities
  • Depression
  • Heart diseases
  • Irritability
  • Hypertension
  • Slower reaction times
  • Pain

In some cases, it is said that death can take place due to the lack of sleep but history shows that a lot of people who suffered sleep deprivation; one for 475 days and another for 420 days straight, are still alive.

Treatment of sleep deprivation:
The only efficacious treatment for sleep deprivation is resuming a normal sleep pattern with enough sleep that you feel rested in the morning. Once you are getting good sleep again the symptoms of sleep deprivation will go away for sure in probably a short period of time.

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