If you’ve ever mindlessly driven or repeatedly read the same book page, you could be experiencing sleep deprivation. Experts generally recommend adults sleep seven to nine hours nightly. Conversely, sleep deprivation statistics indicate about 35% of adults get insufficient sleep, with about 33% averaging less than six hours. This silent condition is increasingly becoming a challenge.
Numerous voluntary factors can cause sleep deprivation, such as work, study and sleeping habits. Consuming excess stimulants like caffeine near bedtime or using electronic devices can interrupt natural circadian rhythms promoting sleep. Sleep neglect to complete work assignments, travel resulting in jet lag and nontraditional work schedules can also contribute to sleep deprivation.
External factors like outside noise, others in the home and bright lights can keep you awake. These issues are amplified by underlying conditions like sleep apnea and insomnia.
Sleep deprivation can have multiple effects on those experiencing it, from physical and mental to emotional.
Body and Mind
Adequate sleep promotes a healthy immune system. Those who don’t get enough may fall ill easily and have longer recoveries.
The importance of sleep for mental health also can’t be underestimated. Sleep deprivation can worsen mental health challenges like depression, psychosis and bipolar disorders. As a result of insufficient shut-eye, the brain struggles to place events into the proper emotional perspectives, impacting relationships. The condition can also affect memory, producing an inability to recall details and fostering a perception of forgetfulness.
Veterans and PTSD
Recent research revealed that veterans averaged even less nightly sleep. Of those surveyed, 70% reported having trouble falling asleep, and 75% reported insomnia. These symptoms may directly result from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Veterans are also susceptible to sleep apnea and sleep paralysis, a frightening condition where one cannot move or speak and may hallucinate. While this disorder occurs less commonly in the general population, it’s more prevalent in those with PTSD.
Children and young adults require even more sleep since their bodies are still developing. Experts recommend eight to 10 hours nightly for teens, yet about 70% or more of high school students aren’t getting that amount.
Common causes include staying up late to study, hectic activity or work schedules and energy drink consumption. Sleep deprivation in this age group can suppress the growth hormone, trigger mental health challenges and increase risky behaviors.
If you’ve ever driven while drowsy, you’re not alone. At least half of U.S. adults report doing so, with 20% reporting falling asleep. Drowsy driving is nearly as dangerous as drunk driving because sleep deprivation can have similar impacts on the body as alcohol, with slower reaction times and drifting.