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The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Heath

Sleep deprivation is a term that describes the cumulative effect of the lack of sleep on the body. Researchers have long known that insomnia resulted in fatigue, drowsiness, accidents, health problems, mood changes, and weight gain or loss. Now they know that sleep deprivation has adverse effects on the brain and cognitive function. Although the complete absence of sleep in humans over long periods of time has not been examined, it led to death in lab studies of animals.

What Causes Sleep Deprivation

  • Poor sleep habits
  • Not having long enough to sleep
  • Sleep disorders like apnea, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome
  • Sleep disorders, like narcolepsy, that affect the brain

How Sleep Deprivation Affects the Body

Growth
Research done in 1999 showed that extreme lack of sleep reduced cortisol levels the following day, in addition to making it difficult to adequately regulate body systems, such as immunity, digestion, mood, energy, and sex.

Diabetes
People who are sleep deprived cannot process glucose as efficiently as those who get a full night’s sleep, and that means they are more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes.

Healing
Studies of rats who were severely deprived of dream sleep developed sores on their paws, suggesting that lack of sleep can impair immunity.

Brain
In 2000, the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in San Diego and the USCD School of Medicine used MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, to monitor brain activity in sleep-deprived individuals while they attempted verbal learning activities. Results showed that lack of sleep impaired their cognitive functioning abilities.

Attention and working memory
The ability to perform tasks that require focus decreases when sleep is deprived, leading not only to careless mistakes in daily life but to serious ones like traffic accidents and work accidents.

Muscles
With strenuous muscle activity but inadequate rest, issues like cramping occur more often. Over-exertion injuries, such as tears in muscle fascia and hernias, also happen more frequently.

Psychosis
In the extreme case scenario, a psychosis-like state can result from severe sleep deprivation.

Depression
The symptoms of sleep deprivation can look like depression, but they can also contribute to a depressed mood. In the short term, sleep deprivation can relieve depression, but the results are temporary.

Obesity
Results from several studies suggest that the severity of sleep loss is offset by weight gain. Not getting enough sleep increases the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that encourages overeating.

How Sleep Deprivation Is Treated

The goal of sleep therapy is to increase the amount of time spent in restorative sleep. This is usually done by treating the cause of the sleep deprivation. The primary treatment of sleep deprivation is to increase total sleep time, and treating the cause of sleep deprivation usually solves the problem. Insufficient sleep and sleep hygiene may also need to be addressed.

Anyone who is experiencing sleep deprivation should talk to a doctor as soon as possible. If necessary, the doctor will make a referral to a sleep clinic for diagnostic tests that record the body’s movement during sleep.

Valley Sleep Center has offices in the following locations:

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If you or a family member is currently undergoing CPAP treatment, we offer CPAP machines, supplies and accessories online. You may also visit our CPAP supplies store in Mesa, Arizona.

Client Reviews
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"I was especially impressed with Andrew the Respiratory Therapist who reviewed my study with me and answered my questions. Andrew thoroughly explained everything about the Cpap machine-from start to finish. I never felt rushed and was assured I could contact him with any additional questions or needs. Andrew told me he would follow up with a call in a week and he did. I believe this center performed the study appropriately and the added benefit of having Andrew teach me about the machine and what to expect was a bonus."


Candace M.


Scottsdale, AZ

"I recommend them highly!! I took my 2 year old daughter for a sleep study and was very impressed. Our sleep technician was amazing with her, very patient and kind. The DVD we brought to watch while getting her hooked up got stuck in the TV and they vowed to return it. We got a call the next day checking on our daughter and saying how sweet she was, they mentioned the DVD. Several days later, we received the DVD plus a new copy of the Lion King with a nice note. They are very good at what they do and if they can make a 2 year old feel at ease, they can probably do the same with anyone!!"


Anthea S.


Tempe, AZ

"Great staff, they make you feel so at home. Every medical facility should be this nice. Felt like a nice hotel. Someone has great taste in decorating. Thanks for making us feel at home."


Steve N.


San Diego, CA