Sleep deprivation is a sleep disorder that affects approximately 40 million people in the U.S. Suffering from sleep deprivation is not always easy to identify and even if some common symptoms are recognized it is still difficult to find a direct link between them and and a sleep disorder like deprivation. Some of the negative side-effects of this all-too-common affliction, according to Web MD, include, but are not limited to, poor health, performance, safety and finances in regards to the personal choices and practices influenced because of skimping on sleep. Human bodies need rest to function properly and when this important element is missing the results can often lead to catastrophe.
Causes for sleep deprivation come from a myriad of afflictions medical and otherwise. Insomnia, sleep apnea and narcolepsy are examples of sleep disorders that are associated with a medical condition and/or diagnosis. Waking up with young children throughout the night, graveyard or swing-shift work hours and social engagements account for a percentage of sleep deprivation cases that are not necessarily medical. It is important to keep in mind that regardless of the cause, sleep deprivation is in fact a very serious sleep disorder.
Though sleep deprivation can cause problems socially and professionally there are also reports that reveal an alarming number of injuries and accidents, including fatalities, associated with a lack of sleep. 37.9 percent of people surveyed admitted to falling asleep unintentionally within a month, while 1,550 fatal car crashes were reported by the statistics web site, Static Brain, as a result of sleep deprivation. In some cases people are able to identify and treat said sleep disorder; however, in many cases it is quite common for sleep disorders to go untreated due to an inability to identify the particular condition, causing an even greater reason for concern. There is no way to treat an affliction without proper diagnosis.
Perhaps the most identifiable cause for sleep deprivation that does not need a doctor’s diagnosis is inadequate nightly hours. This is also easiest to identify if one simply considers the recommended amount of nightly sleep for their age-range, and factor in whether or not they are attempting to get as much and if factors other than just not being able to get enough shut-eye are getting in the way. National Sleep Foundation recommends that on an average night adults should be getting anywhere from seven to nine hours of a night, though this baseline will vary due to extenuating circumstances. If there is nothing like a crying child or late night partying affecting the amount of sleep, yet the person is still experiencing chronic tiredness throughout the day, then they should probably consider consulting their doctor about the potential for a sleep disorder and how to best approach treatment.
Most sleep disorders are not without treatment or cure. Thus, most instances of death or injury associated with sleep deprivation are wholly avoidable. Doctors recommend that the first step in identifying a potential sleep disorder like sleep deprivation is identifying whether or not the sleep that is being enjoyed is healthy sleep. Once this has been decided it is more obvious how to proceed. Seeking treatment is an appropriate first step. Whether or not it is due to a new baby’s cries or any one of the medical conditions commonly associated with an inadequate nights rest there is a proper protocol to follow in order to avoid the potential dangers often associated with a lack of sleep. Sleep disorders like deprivation and the negative side- effects that often go with them are quite common and a valid cause for concern, but ultimately treatable.
By Heather Everett (Pomper)