If you’re sleep deprived, your brain will be suffering. There’s no way to avoid it if you’re lacking sleep. Sleep deprivation effects on your brain are serious and here’s why. For years I thought I could cope with less sleep. At first, I was up during the night feeding my babies. Every new parent faces this time of sleep deprivation with love for their child. I thought I could cope because it was just one stage I needed to get through.
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Once I was back at work it became difficult. I couldn’t fit everything in to each day. I was burning the candle at both ends.
When I got home late from work, my nights were becoming longer just to fit everything in. I would be putting on a load of washing at 10 o’clock at night because there was no other time to do it.
As the kids started getting a little bit older they were sleeping better but there were plenty of times of illness when I was up all night to one or more of them with a fever.
At some point I started experiencing symptoms of anxiety. And then, as a result of work, I suffered from chronic stress. As the years were going on I couldn’t get to sleep at night. My mind was racing and I couldn’t wind down in the evening. When the kids started school there were extra commitments to fit into the week. My life was out of control and my brain was suffering. I was plagued by brain fog and I got to the point that I couldn’t even find the words to speak properly. You won’t believe it but I would even forget what I was saying in mid-sentence. I knew I had to do something.
Sleep deprivation effects on your brain are serious and you need to know what the consequences are. If you’re having problems getting to sleep or staying asleep start educating yourself today. Find out what this lack of sleep is doing to your body and brain.
We all think we can cope with being a little bit short on sleep. Think again. We’re not talking about one night’s poor sleep here. This is something that starts without you realizing and builds up to impact your body and brain over months or even years. Don’t risk it. Read on to find out more. You need to start working towards a solution today.
What does sleep deprivation do to your brain?
How well we sleep can have a significant effect on your body. Your heart, lungs, immune system and metabolism all depend on the power of this single activity. It is the brain however that both regulates and relies heavily on our sleep habits.
With little or no sleep, your mind struggles to function at optimal levels, and the side effects can prove disruptive and over the long-term, utterly devastating to your daily life.
Scientists indicate that after 19 to 20 hours of no sleep, we increase the risk for these ten things to happen in our brain.
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- 1. Sleep deprivation can result in brain damage
- 2. Memory problems from a lack of sleep
- 3. Poor hand and eye coordination from sleep deprivation
- 4. A lack of sleep impairs alertness and reaction time
- 5. Sleep deprivation disrupts decision-making and problem-solving
- 6. Poor sleep affects your mood
- 7. Lack of sleep disrupts creativity
- 8. Lack of sleep boosts risk taking in teens
- 9. Not having enough sleep stimulates feelings of hunger
- 10. Increased feelings of fatigue from sleep deprivation
- Tips: 3 Basic Steps to Improve Your Sleep Experience
- Set a Sleep Schedule
- Find Ways to Relax Your Mind
- Stay Away from All Caffeine
1. Sleep deprivation can result in brain damage
Although you might think your decision to forgo sleep will only create temporary problems, Swedish researchers found that long-term sleep problems can lead to some degree of neural injury and even contribute to brain shrinkage. Sleep deprivation effects are serious.
According to Shape Magazine, this adverse effect combined with the increase in the levels of a toxic protein known as beta-amyloid can increase your risk for brain conditions such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s. If you’re lacking sleep every night, start speaking to your physician and finding a way to improve your sleep habits. You need a solution.
2. Memory problems from a lack of sleep
Poor sleep patterns can impact your ability to focus as well as your capacity to retain or recall even the most basic of information during your waking hours.
Sleep deprivation effects have an impact on your life every day.
Personally, I got to the point that I couldn’t even remember my kids’ middle names when someone asked me. And I’m the one who gave them their names!
I was in denial about my sleep deprivation but over time I had to recognize that there were lots of symptoms.
Your ability to process even the most basic information can become a cumbersome task over time and ultimately, you struggle to navigate even the simplest of situations.
Think of sleep as the main ingredient for adding flavor to your memory recipe. Without it, everything we learn or do during the day is at risk of being lost. From my personal experience, I found it impossible to remember what I needed to do during the day. And in the past, I’d had an excellent memory. I’d always been good at learning for exams and I got good grades too. It is alarming when your memory becomes so poor that you can’t get through daily activities.
The effects of poor sleep really do creep up on you slowly. This is why it’s so beneficial to acknowledge it early and do what you can to find a solution.
3. Poor hand and eye coordination from sleep deprivation
If you are struggling with sleep deprivation, this might not be the time to engage in activities that will require hand and eye coordination. Sleep deprivation effects can have an impact on your primary motor skills functions, making some events awkward in execution.
I remember how I got to the point where I regularly had bruises on my upper arms from accidentally walking into door handles, door locks and other items like coat hooks on walls. No matter how well I thought I was coping, I wasn’t.
I was also accidently burning the back of my hands more frequently on the side of the oven door opening when I was lacking sleep. Sleep deprivation was impacting on my hand and eye coordination in a lot of different ways.
4. A lack of sleep impairs alertness and reaction time
WebMD reports that without adequate sleep, your ability to respond or react sharply decreases by as much as a whopping 32%.
It’s no wonder that so many accidents occur as a result of fatigue. According to Sleep.org, the loss of just 19 hours of sleep can leave you comparable to a drunk driver.
These sleep deprivation effects are serious.
Sleep deprivation is putting your own life and that of others at risk.
Are you a mom driving your kids to school? Do you drive a vehicle as part of your work? Operating any sort of machinery or tools is another risk with impaired reaction time.
When my sleep deprivation was at its worst I even had trouble crossing the road trying to judge the distance and speed of oncoming traffic. Your family and coworkers will start noticing your “clumsiness” but it’s really a symptom of lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation effects will impact on other people too. Recognize the problem and start addressing early.
5. Sleep deprivation disrupts decision-making and problem-solving
Our ability to make firm, well-thought-out decisions and find solutions is limited because of poor sleep habits. Studies show that the frontal and parietal lobes of your brain, also known as decision-making centers, slow in activity.
These sleep deprivation effects usually have a big impact on people in the workplace. If you’re finding work harder for no particular reason, consider whether you’re lacking sleep. And if it’s getting hard to find solutions to everyday problems at home, this could also be a sign.
From my personal experience, once it becomes difficult to solve problems this compounds all the other stress in your life. You’re on a roller coaster of sleep deprivation, compounding stress and becoming overwhelmed. Once you’re at this stage it’s hard to get out of it. For this reason you really should try to resolve the sleep issues as soon as you recognize they exist.
6. Poor sleep affects your mood
Poor sleep experiences can also have a direct impact on the chemicals in your brain which control your mood, leaving you irritable and more susceptible to negatively engage or respond to family, friends, strangers, or peers in the most basic of situations.
Also, lack of sleep can lead to new or further enhance feelings of depression because of changes in serotonin levels that result.
If you know you’re being short-tempered with friends and family it isn’t a happy time. None of us want to experience these sleep deprivation effects. But if you’re suffering from a lack of sleep over weeks or months, this behavior can have a devastating effect on relationships.
If you don’t recognize the problem, no one else is going to either. Instead of tolerating negative behavior people may simply avoid you. Recognize the problem of poor sleep and take action starting today. It could be having an impact on everyone you have contact with.
7. Lack of sleep disrupts creativity
The amount of sleep you get each night may profoundly affect your levels of creativity. Studies demonstrate that those who can achieve an adequate amount of sleep each night think outside of the box and generate new ideas.
Whether this affects your work or not, it is better to have the ability to come up with ideas in your daily life. And if you’re a student, these sleep deprivation effects on creativity could be having a huge impact on your grades. Start being aware of how a lack of sleep is impacting your thinking.
8. Lack of sleep boosts risk taking in teens
Not only do adults experience a shift in mood and behavior but teens are as vulnerable to the effects of poor sleep experiences. These sleep deprivation effects can have an impact on any age group.
If you have teenagers in your family, try to be aware of their sleep habits to see whether sleep is having an effect on their mood.
9. Not having enough sleep stimulates feelings of hunger
When your brain does not receive adequate hours of sleep, your mind may trigger feelings of hunger within your body, causing you to over-eat or crave fatty food.
This action, in turn, may contribute to obesity in some individuals. These types of sleep deprivation effects are often overlooked.
Personally, I put on a lot of weight when I was sleep deprived and I’d never put on weight previously at any stage of my life.
Admittedly there may have been other reasons that added to the risk of weight gain, so I can’t say for sure whether it was the cause for me. However, I’m pretty sure it contributed.
When I was suffering from sleep deprivation everything about my body and brain was suffering. It definitely contributed to bad food choices. I craved “comfort food” which was always full of calories and bad ingredients.
10. Increased feelings of fatigue from sleep deprivation
While it may seem only natural that your body will feel tired as a result of not getting enough sleep, the serotonin levels in your brain may further increase these feelings of exhaustion. The sleep deprivation effects are multiplied.
Personally, I’ve been battling with chronic fatigue for years so sleep deprivation only made it worse. Don’t risk chronic fatigue if you don’t have to. Try to recognize the sleep deprivation effects early and find a solution.
Tips: 3 Basic Steps to Improve Your Sleep Experience
What can you do to improve your sleep and alleviate sleep deprivation effects? There are lots of things you can try at home. The actions you may take in the beginning are straightforward.
Here are three immediate steps you can take to improve your sleep experience (Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep). Start with these first and see if they make a difference:
Set a Sleep Schedule
First, set a sleep schedule and stick to it. This sounds easy, but I know from experience that it’s not. For someone who has long term sleep problems, you’ll have to really commit yourself to this step.
Consider this action to be your top priority as you set about increasing the number of hours you sleep per night. In addition to setting your sleep schedule, establish a ritual of sorts for the activities you complete at or just before bedtime.
Find Ways to Relax Your Mind
Look for ways to relax your mind and body with comforts of a warm bath or lavender aromatherapy.
Stay away from electronics, at least an hour before bedtime, that might stimulate your mind such as a cell phone, tablet, or yes, even television. Again, this sounds easy but you’ll have to make an effort to do it.
Stay Away from All Caffeine
Next, be careful of the food you eat or drink just before bedtime. Studies show that caffeine can be a troublesome ingredient in your foods or drink just before bedtime They may be costing you a goodnight’s rest.
Some people react quite strongly even to small amounts of caffeine to keep them awake. You need to be aware of which foods contain it, such as tea and chocolate. It’s not just coffee you need to avoid.
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