Getting quality sleep each night is essential to maintaining good mental and physical health. However, many Americans are lacking in this area. According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of adults are regularly not getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep does more than just make you feel groggy and grumpy – the long-term effects of sleep deprivation are real.
What is Sleep Deprivation?
Sleep deprivation is a general term that describes an inadequate amount of quality sleep. For most adults, this means getting less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every 24 hours. Sleep deprivation is categorized in different ways depending on the circumstances. Acute sleep deprivation describes a person experiencing a significant reduction in their sleep time for a few days or less, while chronic sleep deprivation is insufficient sleep that persists for three months or longer.
What Causes Sleep Deprivation?
Sleep deprivation is caused by a consistent lack of sleep or poor sleep quality. Several factors contribute to insufficient sleep. Voluntary choices like binge-watching a TV series can cause acute sleep deprivation. Work obligations, such as working multiple jobs, extended hours, or switching to a new shift, are another contributing factor. Certain habits like drinking coffee or smoking cigarettes close to bedtime can also inhibit sleep because they stimulate the nervous system.
Sleep deprivation may also occur due to sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. This disorder induces nightly awakenings that can hinder both sleep duration and quality. Other sleep disorders tied to sleep deprivation include narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, and circadian rhythm disorders. Medical conditions or mental health problems like general anxiety disorder, depression, or cancer also cause sleep disturbances.
Consequences of Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is a time for your body to heal, restore chemical balance, and help memory retention. Low-quality sleep or disruptions to the sleep-wake cycle cause short and long-term health problems.
The short-term consequences of sleep deprivation can negatively affect day-to-day functioning.
These negative effects include:
- Lack of alertness
- Impaired memory
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Shortened attention span
- Loss of motivation
- Poorer memory
- Reduced work efficiency
- Relationship stress
A lack of sleep can also limit your ability to pay attention, react quickly, and make decisions, all of which can lead to consequences like a greater likelihood of car accidents.
There are long-term health effects of sleep deprivation as well. It can affect several systems crucial to bodily function, such as the central nervous, respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune systems.
Too little sleep may increase the risk of:
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease or heart attack
- Mental health disorders like depression or anxiety
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic pain
- Increase risk of injury
- Hormonal abnormalities
Fight the Consequences of Sleep Apnea With the Vivos System
At Smith Dentalworks, we use the Vivos System to correct the deficiencies that lead to sleep apnea and prevent its consequences, such as sleep deprivation. This system is an alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or surgical procedures. Most patients enjoy a vibrant, healthy life without further intervention after a treatment period of 12 to 24 months.