If you or someone you know is experiencing an impaired ability to think clearly, noticing difficulty handling stress, and having a hard time keeping emotions in check, your symptoms may be due to sleep deprivation. Not getting enough sleep can have a serious effect on your day-to-day functioning and mood. In fact, sleep deprivation also causes imbalances in your immune system, which in turn makes you more prone to infections and disease.
Signs of Sleep Deprivation
Even if you get several hours of sleep per night, if the quality of sleep is poor, you could be sleep deprived. Certain disorders, such as sleep apnea, could lead to sleep deprivation. The brain is significantly affected by a loss of rest. Even physical problems associated with a lack of sleep are connected to the neurological effects of sleep deprivation.
This common sense sign is one of many signs of sleep deprivation and probably the first sign one might notice when lacking in sleep. While it may seem too obvious to mention, people might blame being tired or fatigued throughout the day on other things, such as age, stress, or lack of nutrition.
Decreased Mental Functioning
Impaired concentration and memory are both clear signs of missing sleep. In addition, sleep deprivation affects the problem solving ability of the brain. When sleep deprived, people tend to rely on rigid thought patterns, which makes relatively simple problems challenging to solve creatively.
Irritability and Mood Swings
A lack of sleep can affect your mood and cause you to be more irritable. Mood regulation is affected with lack of sleep. People who are sleep deprived might overreact to a situation, become easily upset, or cry easily.
Missing sleep can cause people to be more prone to bumping into things and tripping. Increased clumsiness may be a sign that you have some type of sleep problem.
Slow Reaction Times
When sleep deprived, the brain is essentially too tired to effectively process the information it receives. The information eventually gets through, but the processing takes notably longer than in a person who is not sleep deprived.
Most commonly, you notice your slower reaction times when in traffic. Although you might see a car in front of you running a red light, it takes some time until you gather yourself and step on the brakes. Even a little sleep loss can still cause a measurable decrease in reaction time, which can prove to be fatal when getting behind the wheel.
Another relatively common symptom of sleep deprivation is less articulate speech. Words may be mispronounced or slurred together. Sentences may be incoherent and poorly structured. In addition, it might be difficult to find the right words or express exactly what was intended.
Severe Daytime Fatigue
If a person is fighting to keep his eyes open during the day, the person could be sleep deprived. A person might feel like dozing off the moment he or she stops for the day, sits down for a break, or even while performing daily routines. Severe fatigue during the day can result in an overall decrease in functioning and lead to dangerous situations due to decreased alertness.
Another sign of sleep deprivation is a decrease in immune system functioning. This can result in infections that happen often and frequently, often recurring or becoming more chronic in nature.
With continued sleep deprivation, making good decisions are difficult as judgment is impaired. This is due to an overall decrease in mental functioning.
Because sleep deprivation can lead to significant health issues, it is important to visit your health care provider for help. Sleep disorders can be treated with lifestyle changes, medications, and management of underlying causes. Your physician can work with you to solve your sleep issues.