Adding to the confusion, departing from your routine can lead you to wake up during the wrong sleep stage.
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Typically, we go through five minute sleep cycles per night, each of which contains four sleep stages, explains Sara Nowakowski, clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch. One way to sleep in without confusing your brain is to wake up when you normally do, get outside, and have breakfast before going back to sleep, Winter tells me.
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It could also point toward depression, sleep apnea, or narcolepsy. The tired feeling you get after sleeping a lot could also be a residual effect of the sleep deprivation that caused you to sleep late in the first place. When you have a remaining sleep debt in the morning, this creates a push to want to sleep more. Also, since not everybody needs the exact same amount of sleep, it might be hard to tell if your exhaustion is from sleep deprivation or oversleeping, Nowakowski says.
Treatment is only required when a person physically cannot get to sleep, due to either physical or psychological difficulties. A therapist or sleep specialist will be able to offer guidance and coping techniques for reaching a restful state and sleeping. There are two main avenues of treatment for sleep deprivation: Behavioral and cognitive measures and medications. There are a number of effective methods to enhance sleep that do not require medication, including:.
When non-medicinal treatment is not effective, drugs are available that can help induce sleep. Some are available over-the-counter OTC , and some are only available with a valid prescription. There is a wide range of available options, including benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, and melatonin receptor antagonists. However, some people form a dependency on sleeping medications.
It is important to limit the dosage and try to use non-medicinal measures where possible. The good news is that most of the negative effects of sleep deprivation reverse when sufficient sleep is obtained. The treatment for sleep deprivation is to satisfy the biological sleep need, prevent deprivation and "pay back" accumulated sleep debt.
When you fail to get your required amount of sufficient sleep you start to accumulate a sleep debt. For example, if you need 7 hours of sleep nightly to feel awake and alert and only get 5 hours, you have a sleep debt of 2 hours.
If you continue that pattern for five nights, you have an accumulated sleep debt of 10 hours. The only way to erase a sleep debt is to get more sleep. Depending on the scale of the sleep debt, it may take some time to recover fully. However, the positive effects of paying this debt off will be felt quickly. To pay back a sleep debt, it is necessary to start getting the sleep you need, plus an additional hour or so per night, until the debt is paid. Afterwards, the required amount of sleep can be resumed without the additional hour. Even if the sleep debt is hundreds or even thousands of hours, it can still be successfully reconciled with a conscious effort to restructure obligations, and allowing sufficient time off to recover.
You will know you have paid back your sleep debt when you wake up feeling refreshed, and you do not feel excessively drowsy during the day. If sleep deprivation is ongoing, and negative symptoms persist despite practicing good sleep hygiene measures, consultation with a healthcare provider is recommended. The first step for recognizing a sleep problem is to keep a written sleep history in a sleep log.
Write down each day how many hours sleep you have, how many times per night you wake up, how rested you feel after waking up, and any feelings of sleepiness you experience during the day. If you have a partner, it may be worth asking them to note any snoring, gasping, or limb-jerking, as a doctor may also ask about this. It will then be possible to present this information to any doctor you visit in a meaningful way.
Sleep specialists can also identify a pattern using a polysomnogram, or sleep study. This is carried out in a sleep laboratory. Electrodes are placed at various points on the body, including the scalp and face. The person with suspected sleep deprivation will sleep overnight at a sleep clinic, and these monitors will measure breathing, blood, heart rate and rhythm, muscle activity, and brain and eye movements during sleep. Especially in those who wilfully sleep too little, diagnosis can be as simple as recognizing that you do not get enough sleep and deciding to make changes.
Sleep deprivation weakens the ability of the part of the brain that handles reasoning, known as the prefrontal cortex, to control the emotional part, the amygdala. This leads to the abnormal processing of emotions. Sleep also appears to be necessary to prepare the brain for learning. When the brain is deprived of sleep, it is difficult to concentrate and form new memories. When we stay awake all night or significantly cut sleep short, the body does not release the hormones necessary to regulate growth and appetite, and instead forms an overabundance of stress chemicals, such as norepinephrine and cortisol.
Research suggests shorter sleep durations may be a predictor of weight gain in adults and children. Each 1 hour reduction in sleep time per day is associated with an increase of 0. These changes result in an increased risk for hypertension , diabetes , obesity, heart attack , and stroke in the sleep-deprived individual. Sleep loss can have a profound impact on both emotional function and normal thinking abilities in healthy individuals, resulting in:.
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Sleep-deprived people are more likely to report increased feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, powerlessness, failure, low self-esteem, poor job performance, conflicts with coworkers, and reduced quality of life. Many of these deficits remain even when alertness is sustained with stimulants such as caffeine. Finally, sleep-deprived individuals score higher on clinical scales measuring depression, anxiety , and paranoia.
After around 16 hours of staying awake, the body attempts to balance the need for sleep. If a person does not get enough sleep, the brain obtains sleep through short sleep attacks called microsleeps. This is an uncontrollable brain response that renders a person unable to process environmental stimulation and sensory information for a brief amount of time. A person's eyes often remain open during microsleeps, but they are essentially "zoned out. Microsleeps will continue to occur despite an individual's forced attempt to stay awake, and because of this inbuilt sleep mechanism, it is extremely difficult for an individual to remain awake for more than 48 hours straight.
Sleep deprivation can be linked to serious accidents and poor job or school performances. It can substantially lower an individual's overall quality of life. Lack of sleep disrupts the brain's ability to balance emotions and thinking abilities, lowers the body's natural defenses, and increases the chances of developing chronic medical problems. While the occasional poor night's sleep is not a serious problem in itself, persistent sleep deprivation can be. There is no substitute for restorative sleep. A certain amount of care should be taken to prevent ongoing sleep deprivation in individuals of all ages.
Article last updated by Adam Felman on Thu 25 January All references are available in the References tab. Choudhary, S.
Sleep effects on breathing and respiratory diseases. Lung India, 26 4 , Epstein, L. The Harvard Medical School Guide to a good night's sleep. McGraw Hill, NY. He, Q. The association between insomnia symptoms and risk of cardio-cerebral vascular events: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies [Abstract]. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 24 Hirotsu, C.
Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions. Sleep Science, 8 3 Jones, J. Kilgore, W. Effects of sleep deprivation on cognition [Abstract]. Naitoh, P. Health effects of sleep deprivation. Occupational Medicine: State of the Art Reviews, 5 2 , National sleep foundation recommends new sleep times. Walker, M.
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