Sleep deprivation is simply a condition in which you’re not getting as much sleep as your body needs. Despite common health recommendations that tell you to get eight hours of sleep a night, the truth is that your body may have different needs, and the amount of sleep you need may change depending on your current health and life situation; you may need just five hours, or even ten!
Sometimes we think we just have to push through—whether it’s from demands of work, school and family, short-term stressors, grief…or a youthful urge to over-party. And in the short-term you can often make the adjustment. But after a few days, sleep deprivation is something you need to take seriously. Why is it so important to make sure that you’re getting enough rest?
Through study after study, the evidence is growing that shows how much our minds (in concentration, memory and alertness), as well as bodies (through increased risks of heart attack, stroke and obesity, to name just a few), suffer if we’re not getting enough sleep.
We’ve had many patients tell us post-treatment that they didn’t realize just how “out of it” they were every day until AFTER they started getting enough sleep. When you’re wide awake and able to think clearly, it’s easier to listen and be fully engaged with people and events around you; you can process information and more rapidly respond to demands for quick change (as when you’re driving a car, or playing a sport).
Sleep deprivation builds up over time, wearing away at your quality of life; the right amount of good quality sleep helped our patients really live again, and it may be able to help you, too.
If you’re wondering if lack of sleep may be a problem for you, there are signs you can look for. Some are most easily noticed by a sleeping partner: chronic snoring and repeatedly having long pauses in breathing while asleep, to name the two most common. But here’s one you can spot on your own:
Do you regularly head straight to bed at night and fall asleep within 5 minutes of your head touching the pillow, or nod off while reading or watching television in the evening? You may need to get more sleep. Try adjusting your schedule to add in an extra 30-60 minutes of sleep. If that does the trick, then you’ll know just how much sleep you need at this time in your life.
If you find that you’re still nodding off, you might want to consider discussing your situation with a sleep specialist. There are over 85 sleep disorders recognized today, and physicians who specialize in sleep disorders have the training and experience to spot them. They also have more options—including many non-pharmaceutical ones—for treatment of sleep disorders than ever before. So please, take sleep deprivation seriously; get good rest, and if you’re still having trouble, get help.