Sleep Deprivation

March 3, 2017
By , Park Rapids, MN

It’s Friday night! The perfect night for a sleepover with your best friend. She orders three pizzas, picks up five different flavors of your favorite ice cream, and a two liter of Coca Cola. You paint your nails, have a pillow fight in your pajamas, watch three romantic Nicholas Sparks movies, and gossip into the early hours of the morning. Before you know it, the clock strikes four and you know that you will be haunted by sleepiness for the rest of the weekend.


“[Sleep deprivation is a] common problem in our modern day society” (“Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.”). There are multiple causes of sleep deprivation-- staying up late being one. In this paper, I will talk about some of the causes you knowingly choose and others that can be out of your control. I will inform on how the effect of sleep deprivation spreads through your body. Also, share tips to prevent yourself from becoming sleep deprived and making sure you get the sleep you so desperately need. Sleep is necessary to keep your body healthy.


There are times when life gives you an obstacle or there are responsibilities you can not avoid. These things could be unintentional causes as to why you are sleep deprived. Some people struggle to get a good night of rest because they suffer from a sleep disorder. A few common sleep disorders are insomnia, apnoea, and narcolepsy.
One cause is insomnia; it can be short term or it can be chronic, but it is never the same for everyone (Duncan). According to an article on “Everything you Need to Know to Rest Easy,” it could mean lying awake at night unable to fall asleep, not being able to stay asleep for your desired length of time, or waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back asleep (Duncan). People that snore could possibly also have sleep apnoea.
Sleep apnoea is when you stop breathing for at least a few seconds, if not more, while sleeping (Duncan). It is caused by a narrow, floppy throat and wakes you up without actually knowing (Duncan). “About one in 2000 people suffers from narcolepsy - a disorder that involves poor control of sleep-wake cycles” (Duncan). You can’t control when you fall asleep and it can cause hallucinations (Duncan). For some people, sleep disorders like these are unavoidable and can cause sleep deprivation.


Work and school related stress is also an unintentional cause of sleep deprivation. Children and young adults are more easily affected by sleep deprivation than older adults and also more likely to have stress (“Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment”). You can’t control what your boss throws at you or the amount of homework your teachers give you. Often high school students are involved in sports that allows them less time to get their schoolwork done. Many then stay up late multiple times a week just trying to get by. According to “Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments” this continuing lack of sleep can lead to: being extra sleepy during the day, emotional problems, bad performance at job or school, obesity, and feeling like your life isn't that great (“Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment”).


Sleep disruptions are sometimes unavoidable and can cause you to become sleep deprived, but there are ways to treat them. Some sleep disruptions include: medicines, allergic rhinitis, asthma, depression, pain, and teeth grinding (Duncan). There are over-the-counter medicines out there to help you sleep, but there are also some that will keep you awake. Some prescription medicines may make it easier to sleep as well, but could really be affecting the quality of sleep you are getting (Duncan). Allergic rhinitis is when your nasal passages become irritated due to breathing in allergens that were in the air during your slumber (Duncan). It causes typical allergy symptoms making it difficult to sleep comfortably (Duncan).


Asthma is a sleep disruption that may have a solution if it is found to affect your sleep. Often people with asthma find themselves wheezing and coughing during the night, but they are advised to talk to a doctor to help sort things out (Duncan). Those who have depression and have found that is is disrupting their sleep probably have symptoms similar to those caused by the sleep disorder insomnia (Duncan).


Pain seems as though it would obviously make it difficult for one to sleep, but teeth grinding on the other hand is something different. “It is quite common for people to grind their teeth while they sleep” (Duncan). It doesn't just damage your quality of sleep, but your teeth too. Those who do it are usually not aware that they do it (Duncan).
Some of the things that cause people to be sleep deprived are very much avoidable and therefore labeled intentional. Staying up all night or using technology right before you go to bed are some of these intentional causes. Television, computer, and phones emit light that keeps us awake (Johnson). This is why it is bad to use such technology right before you go to bed. People like to use their phones as alarm clocks, but that is a bad habit to get into because your phone is distracting. Choosing to stay up late and technology can also be combined. Some people choose to use social media into the early hours of the morning. But, you have to consistently get the proper amount of sleep to avoid sleep deprivation (Johnson).“Sleeping less than 5 hours a night increases the risk of death from all causes by 15%” (“Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.”). That may make you think twice before pulling an all nighter.


Being sleep deprived can be just as dangerous as having too much to drink (Johnson). A late night with your closest friend like in story above won’t hurt you too much as long as you sleep a little, but the effects of sleep deprivation are cumulative, meaning that they add up (Johnson). There are many effects of sleep deprivation. “You need sleep as much as you need to breathe and eat” (“Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body”). Not getting enough sleep can cause short term problems, but if continued over time it can cause serious health conditions ("Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body."). Sleep deprivation affects the central nervous system, the immune system, the digestive system, and the cardiovascular system.


“Your central nervous system is the information highway of your body” ("Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body."). Sleep is necessary to keep it functioning properly especially at a young age. "In children and adolescents, hormones that promote growth are released during sleep. These hormones help build muscle mass, as well as make repairs to cells and tissues. Sleep is vital to development during puberty" (“Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body.”). Your cognition and emotions are affected when you don't have enough sleep and your brain can't function the way it is supposed to (“Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body.”). Such as how it affects your ability to learn, focus, and take on new information.


Sleep deprivation also affects your immune system by weakening it, therefore making it easier for you to catch a common cold and take longer for you to recover (“Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body”). "While you’re sleeping, your body is also producing proteins that help cells repair damage" (“Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body”). So getting enough sleep keeps you healthy and your immune system strong.


“According to Harvard Medical School, a few studies have found a link between lack of sleep and weight gain.”  (“Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body.”). When eating too much and not exercising are combined with sleep deprivation it can cause this weight gain "Sleep deprivation prompts your body to release higher levels of insulin after you eat, promoting fat storage and increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes" (Johnson). That is when cardiovascular problems come into play because there becomes a greater risk for having high blood pressure, heart disease, or even having a stroke (“Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body.”). As you can see, getting good sleep consistently is important.


Life isn’t as fun when you are tired. "A person is considered sleep deprived if they get less sleep than they need to feel awake and alert" (“The Spooky Effects of Sleep Deprivation”).“The amount of sleep you need depends on your age” (Duncan).


The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 2015 recommendations for appropriate sleep durations for specific age groups are:
Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day
Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
Adults (18-64):  7-9 hours
Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
(“Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.”)


"Around 59% of Americans get 7 or more hours of sleep at night, while 40% get less than 7 hours" (“Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.”). According to the NSF, less than seven hours of sleep isn’t healthy for anyone. Good thing there are things you can do to help you rest better.


There are lots of dont’s when it comes to sleep. It is best to avoid things like caffeine, nicotine, screentime, and alcohol in the evening. The experts also say that you should avoid doing work or things other than sleep in your room (Johnson). It is best to be worry free and not take a nap too late in the day too (Johnson). For those times where you are just laying there unable to sleep, the best thing to do is get up and go read for a little bit then try going back to sleep (Johnson). This tricks your mind so you associate your bed with sleep. It is good to get into a nightly routine so your internal clock doesn’t get messed up (Duncan).


Going to bed hungry is not okay, but what should you snack on before you go to bed? Almonds, bananas, cheese and crackers, peanut butter, walnuts, and hummus may improve your quality of sleep (Duncan).


There are many effects to sleep deprivation, none of them very positive. But some of the causes are avoidable. There are even little things you can do to improve your sleep quality. Sleep is very important for all ages and the price is high if you continually lack the correct amount. Staying up all night with your best friend may be fun, but are the consequences worth it?






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