While losing sleep is sometimes unavoidable, the long-term effects of sleep deprivation on the brain can be quite serious. It is estimated that there are 150 million sleep sufferers worldwide. If you value your overall well-being, understanding the side effects of sleep deprivation on the brain can help you adopt beneficial lifestyle changes. Learn the 7 major sleep deprivation side effects and tips on how to achieve a good night’s sleep.
“Eight hours of sleep makes a big difference for me, and I try hard to make that a priority” – Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
Your ability to focus and perform tasks is compromised
One of the most serious effects of sleep deprivation on the brain is increased difficulty in focusing. Losing your focus hinders your ability to perform tasks. This poses serious problems when you’re working or doing complex tasks that require logic and quick response. With lowered alertness and impaired judgment, it will be hard for you to make the right decisions. Working out in the morning or doing light yoga before bedtime can dramatically improve your sleep. Avoid doing heavy exercises at night because these can make your mind so active that it will be difficult for you to sleep.
You become forgetful
During sleep, your brain stores what you’ve learned and experienced during the day into your short-term memory. When you suffer from insomnia, your working memory and attention are disrupted. Insomnia impairs your brain’s ability to consolidate new information and construct memories. As a result, insomniacs are often forgetful. If you are forgetting or misplacing things, it could be one of the effects of sleep deprivation.
Strictly following a sleeping plan can help insomniacs sleep. Create a sleep plan based on your needs and schedule. It will also help you follow a schedule without too much thought. It may sound easier said than done, and in some cases it is. But with willpower and the right support, a sleep routine can give you the quality sleep that you need.
Learning abilities are stunted
Effects of sleep deprivation also include a negative impact on cognitive performance. A sleep-deprived body will be unable to effectively handle work, school, and busy schedules. Getting the ideal 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep will improve your capacity to pick up and process information. Some are of the belief that losing sleep is a must to accomplish more work. However, depriving your body of sleep will only undermine your learning efficiency. Remember that quality sleep and a high-functioning mind are closely linked.
Setting up the right environment can make it easier for you to avoid the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation. Turning off the lights and investing in a good mattress are two ways that your body can be properly supported during sleep.
You become moody and irritable
Sleep deprivation makes you moody. Missing even just one night of quality sleep can make anyone’s personality change. Irritability and unstable temperaments are common occurrences. Sleep is an important mood regulator, and insomnia can seriously affect your mental and emotional health. While everyone can experience poor sleep, women are slightly more at risk than men, according to the Society for Women’s Health Research. This, however, doesn’t mean that men have the luxury to be complacent about sleep. Studies are clear that the emotional effects of sleep deprivation are applicable to both sexes.
Following a healthy diet can help you sleep well. Avoid sugary and fatty foods before bedtime as these get in the way of quality sleep. Certain spices can also help in sleeping better naturally.
Serious psychiatric problems like depression can develop
Chronic sleep problems can lead to serious mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. People who experience insomnia are likely to develop psychiatric problems. A lot of people are subjected to the erroneous idea that being productive means sacrificing sleep. Don’t ignore mental issues caused by sleep deprivation. While quality sleep has the power to cure mental disorders, some sufferers may have to discuss treatments with their doctors to avoid further complications. A doctor may prescribe medication if an underlying illness such as hormonal imbalance is the culprit behind poor sleep.
Your sensory processes are impaired
When you lack quality sleep, your sensory processes are impaired. Sensory processing is the body’s way of processing information from the five senses, namely, sight, smell, auditory, touch and taste. Sensory processes are fundamental in one’s ability to make sense of the world. Sensory disorders can be a direct effect of sleep problems. While people with sensory disorders can receive sensory information, the problem for them is that processing information is accompanied by distress and confusion. If your are senses distorted as an effect of sleep deprivation, it’s important that you get yourself out of harm’s way. For example, if you’re driving, take a break on the side of the road or in a safe area. Take a nap for 20 minutes to recharge your senses.
Hyperactivity quickly degenerates to lethargy
Because sleep plays an essential role in restoring the mind, poor sleep negatively impacts your functioning and development. One of the clear effects of sleep deprivation is hyperactivity that quickly shifts to lethargy. When you lack sleep, your body tries to compensate by using all of your energy. However, with limited energy supply, a sleep-deprived body quickly becomes weak and lethargic.
Today’s wired lifestyle can sabotage quality sleep. In this context, unplugging your phone and other electronic gadgets before bedtime can help you sleep better. The light from these devices can trick your mind into thinking that it’s daytime, making it hard for you to sleep.
Understanding these 7 harmful effects of sleep deprivation on your brain is the first step in making necessary lifestyle changes. Prioritizing quality sleep will help your mind to think positively and your body to support increased efficiency.