The functioning of the human body is influenced by a number of factors, which are mainly determined by the health status of an individual. Oftentimes, we seek medication, when the body deviates from its normal and usual functioning mechanisms. Through different activities and processes, the body is able to use energy and replenish itself. Sleeping is one of the activities, which have direct effect on the functioning of the body.
While most people do not understand the implication of sleep, our effectiveness solely depends on the amount of time dedicated to sleeping (Van 1455). However, due to some reasons, people fail to get enough sleep, daily, weekly or on a regular basis.
Sleep deprivation has become a major problem in the United States today, with a wide range of negative effects among youths and adults. This paper discusses the issue of sleep deprivation, focusing on its definition, causes, effects, and possible ways of dealing with it.
What is Sleep Deprivation?
Sleep deprivation is defined as a condition, which occurs among human beings when they fail to get enough sleep. Many experts argue that sleep deficiency is wide even though most people do not consider it to be a serious issue, which affects their lives (Colten and Altevogt 94). Sleep deprivation has become a major problem in the United States, with almost forty seven million suffering from the condition.
Among other reasons, one may get insufficient sleep in a day as a result of various factors. Some people sleep at the wrong time, due to busy daily schedules while others have sleep disorders, which affect their sleeping patterns. The following segment of the paper discusses causes of deprivation.
Causes of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation may occur as a result of factors, which are not known to the victims. This is based on the fact that, sleep deprivation may go beyond the number of hours one spends in bed. In some cases, the quality of sleep matters in determining the level of deprivation (Colten and Altevogt 94).
In this context, it is possible for one to be in bed for more than eight hours but suffer from the negative effects of sleep deprivation. Whist this is the case, there are people who wake every morning feeling tired despite having spent recommended number of hours in bed.
Sleep deprivation can be caused by medical conditions, which may include but not limited to asthma, arthritis, muscle cramps, allergies, and muscular pain. These conditions have been classified by researchers as common medical conditions that largely contribute to most of the cases of sleep deprivation being witnessed in the United States (Colten and Altevogt 94).
Similarly, these medical conditions have a direct impact on not only the quality, but also the time one takes in bed sleeping. It is worth noting that sometimes people are usually unconscious to realize that their sleep is not deep enough. This also explains the reason why it is not easy for a person to recall any moment in life, when he or she moved closer to waking up.
Treatment of cases like sleep apnea is important because it affects the quality of sleep without necessarily awakening the victim. This is because medical surveys have revealed fatal effects of sleep apnea, especially on the cardiovascular system. Besides these, one is likely to experience breathing difficulties, caused by insufficient oxygen (Bernstein 150).
Even though treatment of sleep deprivation is important, it has been found that some drugs used to treat patients may worsen the case, or lead to poor quality of sleep. It is therefore necessary for the doctor to determine the best drugs to use. Discussions between doctors and victims are imperative in order to understand the response of patients.
Sleep deprivation is also caused by sleep cycle disruptions, which interfere with the fourth stage of sleep. Oftentimes, these disruptions are described as night terrors, sleepwalking, and nightmares (Bernstein 150).
Though these disorders are known not awaken a person completely, it is vital to note that they may disrupt the order of sleep cycles, forcing a person to move from the fourth stage to the first one. Victims of these disruptions require attention in order to take corrective measures.
In addition, there are known environmental factors, which contribute to several cases of sleep deprivation. However, doctors argue that the impact of the environment is sometimes so minimal to be recognized by people who are affected by sleep deficiency. In others words, these factors affect the quality of sleep without necessarily arousing a person from sleep.
Common examples include extreme weather conditions, like high temperatures, noise, and poor quality of the mattress. As a result, they may contribute to a person’s awakening, depending on their intensity when one is sleeping (Bernstein 150).
Moreover, the impact of these factors may develop with time, thus affecting one’s quality of sleep. In addition, most of the environmental factors, which contribute to sleep deprivation, can be fixed easily, without medical or professional skills. Nevertheless, the challenge is usually how to become aware of their existence.
Lastly, sleep deprivation is caused by stress and depression, which have been linked to other health disorders and complications. Together with some lifestyles in America, these factors are heavily contributing to sleep deficiency in most parts of the world. Even though they might not be acute to awaken an individual, their cumulative effects usually become significant.
There are countless stressors in the world, which affect youths and adults (Wells and Vaughn 233). While young people could be concerned with passing exams, adults are normally preoccupied with pressure to attain certain goals in life. These conditions create a disturbed mind, which may affect a person’s ability to enjoy quality sleep.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation has a host of negative effects, which affect people of all ages. The commonest effect is stress. Most people who suffer from sleep deficiency are likely to experience depression frequently as compared to their counterparts who enjoy quality sleep. As a result, stress may lead to poor performance among students at school.
Research has revealed that students who spend very few hours in bed or experience disruptions during sleep are likely to register poor performance in their class assignments and final exams (Wells and Vaughn 233). Additionally, sleep deprivation causes inefficiency among employees.
For instance, drivers who experience this disorder are more likely to cause accidents as compared to those who are free from it. This is based on the fact that, un-refreshed people have poor concentration and low mastery of their skills.
Besides stress and anxiety, sleep deprivation has a wide-range of health-related effects. For instance, medical experts argue that people who spend less than six hours in bed are likely to suffer from high blood pressure. Quality sleep gives the body an opportunity to rest by slowing down the rate at which it pumps blood to the rest of the body.
Inadequate sleep implies that the heart has to work without its normal and recommended rest. Additionally, sleep deprivation is known to affect the immune system. People who experience this disorder end up with a weakened immune system, leaving the body prone to most illnesses. This reduced immune response accumulates and may become fatal with time.
Sleep paralysis is also a common effect of inadequate sleep (Wells and Vaughn 233). This is due to disruption of the sleep cycle. It primarily occurs when the body is aroused during the fourth stage of the sleep cycle. In this case, the body is left immobile, as the mind regains consciousness. Due to this conflict, one may experience pain and hallucinations.
Managing Sleep Deprivation
Based on the negative effects of sleep deprivation, there is need to manage this disorder among Americans. Firstly, it is necessary for people to seek medical advice concerning certain factors, which could be contributing to this condition, like stress and infections.
Proper counseling is also vital in stabilizing a person’s mental capacity. Physical exercises are also known to relieve a person from stressful conditions, contributing to sleep deficiency (Van 1455). Lastly, it is essential to ensure that the environment is free from noise and has regulated weather conditions.
Sleep deprivation remains a major problem in America, affecting millions of people. As discussed above, sleep deprivation is caused by a host of factors, ranging from environmental to health-related issues. Moreover, sleep deficiency has countless effects, most of which may become fatal in cases where the disorder is chronic.
Bernstein, Douglas. Essentials of Psychology. Connecticut: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
Colten, Harvey, and Bruce Altevogt. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press, 2006. Print.
Van, Cauter. “Sleep Disturbances And Insulin Resistance.” Diabetic Medicine 28.12 (2011): 1455-1462. Print.
Wells, Mary, and Bradley Vaughn. “Poor Sleep Challenging the Health Of A Nation.” Neuro-diagnostic Journal 52.3 (2012): 233-249. Print.