CPR First Aid

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

Sleep Foundation, an organisation that provides comprehensive health information that experts review, warns about the negative effects if you don’t get enough sleep. It links to cardiovascular diseases, increases the risk of diabetes, may cause obesity, make the immune system weak, and lead to other health issues. While first aid may be available for these, it would be best to treat the underlying condition, which is sleep deprivation. To learn about the ways to do it, read further, and find additional details. 

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

Following are the possible side effects of sleep deprivation.

Possible side effects of sleep deprivation.

Cardiovascular Diseases May Develop

Studies have found that there is a strong association between sleep deficiency and cardiovascular problems. It includes high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Without enough sleep, the heart is unable to recover from a full day of work. 

The Risk of Getting Diabetes Increases

Insufficient sleep negatively impacts the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar which may lead to diabetes and other metabolic conditions.

It May Lead to Obesity

People who don’t get enough sleep tend to eat more, so in the long run, it may lead to obesity. 

The Immune System Weakens

Poor sleep means the body is unable to rest and respond quickly to infections. 

Hormonal Problems May Occur

During sleep, the body reproduces hormones that coordinate different functions in the body. Without enough rest, this process is unable to complete, causing hormonal problems that then affect different parts of your body.

Worsening Pain in the Body

Sleep deprivation leads to a higher risk of developing pain or makes people feel that their existing pain is getting worse.

Possibility of Mental Health Disorders

Sleep and mental health have a link to each other. Poor sleep negatively impacts the mental state due to the lack of rest which may develop into a disorder such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. On the other hand, when you have a mental health problem, it may also disrupt your sleep at night. 

What is the First Aid for the Negative Side Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep?

First aid for the above health issues is available such as taking aspirin for heart attacks, consuming sugar for a diabetic emergency, and getting a pain-relief medicine. However, these treatments do not cure the underlying issue of sleep deprivation. So, while these give temporary relief, the long-term cure may be getting enough sleep.

What is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation occurs when you consistently fail to meet the minimum daily requirements of sleeping hours. In Australia, about ⅓ of the population is suffering from this due to different factors.

What are the Causes of Sleep Deprivation?

The following may make it difficult for you to sleep enough at night.

  • Uncomfortable sleeping environment
  • Work schedule outside the typical nine-to-five day
  • Medical conditions
  • Sleeping disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnoea

Lifestyle factors such as busy work schedules or too much internet activity may also trigger it.

Busy schedules or excessive internet use can trigger lifestyle factors.

Can you Die from Sleep Deprivation?

The Sleep Health Foundation has the following estimates of deaths due to sleep deprivation from 2016 to 2017.

  • 300 from motor vehicle accidents
  • 94 from workplace injuries
  • 1,323 from coronary artery disease
  • 958 from stroke
  • 215 from depression
  • 65 from type 2 diabetes
  • 61 from congestive heart failure

The above incidents show that lack of sleep negatively affects performance at work, driving skills, and health.

How Much is Enough Sleep?

The Sleep Health Foundation, an advocate for sleep health in the community, recommends the following daily number of sleeping hours per age bracket.

Age Ideal Length of Sleep per Day
0 – 3 months 14 – 17 hours
4 – 11 months 12 – 15 hours
1 – 2 years old 11 – 14 hours
2 – 5 years old 10 – 13 hours
6 – 13 years old 9 – 11 hours
14 – 17 years old  8 – 10 hours
18 – 25 years old 7 – 9 hours
26 – 64 years old
65 years old and over 7 – 8 hours

Length of sleep below and above these ranges per age may be inappropriate. 

What is the Minimum Amount of Sleep Before Long Drive?

MyLicence, a government website of the South Australian Government, states that you should get 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep before your trip. It also recommends taking a 15-minute break every 2 hours when driving and aiming for a maximum of 8 to 10 hours trip per day.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation causes certain changes in the way you sleep, think, and move.

  • Falling asleep when not intending to
  • Unusual long hours of sleep during the weekends
  • More frequent naps
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Low sex drive
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory

Lack of sleep may also affect your appetite, balance, and coordination.

What is the Treatment for Sleep Deprivation?

The Sleep Health Foundation has the following tips to sleep better at night.

  • Make sure you have enough time to sleep after other priorities 
  • Follow a regular sleeping and waking up schedule
  • Create a comfortable sleeping room
  • Get enough sunlight whenever possible 
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Minimise the usage of devices

If you have a sleep disorder or a medical condition that disrupts your sleep, speak with a healthcare provider for guidance.

Conclusion

Sleep deprivation, which occurs when you don’t get enough sleep, may negatively affect your heart, blood sugar levels, weight management, immune system, hormones, and mental health. First aid for such conditions is available but treating the sleep deprivation itself may be the best method. Following the daily recommendations of sleeping hours by prioritising rest, following a schedule, and setting up a comfortable room may help. But, if you have a sleeping disorder or a medical condition that disrupts your nights, speak with a doctor. Giving your body enough rest is important for it to recover from its daily function and to avoid possible side effects such as accidents or death.

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