Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lack of Sleep

With the holidays approaching, everyone has a lot more to do than there is time in the day and many of us find that we suffer from lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation is common in today’s world and some believe that they can live on less sleep than they need. You need sleep to regenerate your body and brain in order to function normally during the time you are awake. Research has shown that sleep deprived subjects are less likely to pass verbal learning tests due the brain’s unregenerated neurons. Also they show signs of slurred speech, stuttering, speaking in a monotone voice and/or speak in a much slower pace than they do when fully rested. Lack of sleep impairs one’s ability to focus, reduces the speed to perform and lessens efficiency. One symptom of prolonged lack of sleep is hallucinations, when the brain is unable to perform optimally it creates images dissimilar from reality possibly resulting in temporary insanity.

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One of the possible side effects of a continued lack of sleep is death. Usually this is the result of the fact that the immune system is weakened without sleep. The body also decreases the amount of human growth hormone needed and is unable to metabolize sugar, turning sugar into fat. One study stated that people who sleep less than four hours per night are three times more likely to die within the next six years. Sleep deprivation studies help us examine the relationship between the brain and the person’s behavior as the brain shuts down. For example, a person cannot jog continuously day after day; the brain cannot function without rest. Different areas of the brain are regenerated during different sleep cycles so shortening sleep cycles will cause the brain to deteriorate. In fact, if the brain does not get to rest it will begin to shut down for periods of micro-sleep which happens before performance failure occurs.

Anyone is at risk when it comes to lack of sleep and if you have any of the following conditions, you are far more likely to suffer from sleeping disorders; depression, no physical activity, drug use, poor diet and overly stressed. The severity from lack of sleep can range from mild restlessness during the day to falling asleep during the day, irritability, blurred vision and even memory loss. The truth is lack of sleep can be dangerous as it can put a toll on your body’s ability to eliminate bacteria and viruses by lowering your immune system. You will get sick more often than if you were well rested. These symptoms can be completely avoided when you take the necessary steps to get more restful sleep.

There are various behavioral techniques that treat lack of sleep, such as relaxation therapy, sleep restriction therapy and reconditioning. Here is a brief overview of these three techniques.

Relaxation Therapy consists of specific techniques that can greatly reduce or eliminate anxiety and body tension, which will allow you to fall asleep easy and stay asleep during the night. The mind is able to stop “racing,” the muscles can relax, and restful sleep can occur. See: Mind-Your-P's-and-Q's-Easy-Sleep-Techniques-Meditation-and-Self-Hypnosis.

Sleep Restriction means restricting the hours of sleep per night. Some people suffering from insomnia spend too much time in bed unsuccessfully trying to sleep. Once they get used to the sleep restriction program, gradually the time is increased until a more normal night’s sleep is achieved.

[caption id="attachment_608" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Lack of Sleep - Sleep Reconditioning"][/caption]

Sleep Reconditioning means reprogramming people to associate their bed and bedtime with sleep. This is a great treatment because for most people, this means not using their beds for any activities other than sleep and intimacy. As part of the reconditioning process, one is usually advised to establish a sleep routine. If the person cannot fall asleep, they are advised to get up for a period of time and then return to bed. There are many things you can do to help your body and brain prepare for sleep such as a bath, read a boring book or write in a journal. If you have chronic sleep deprivation or insomnia, it might be a good idea to keep a sleep journal. The sleep journal will you’re your doctor determine the severity of your sleep deprivation and treat your condition accordingly . Others suggestions are; to avoid naps and wake up and go to bed the same time every day, even on weekends.

The content provided in Lack of Sleep is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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