Sleep is one of the most “taken for granted” functions of the body. It is so deeply ingrained in the system that chances are you don’t even think about this ritual beyond hitting your sheets at a particular time. You might even try to cut down on sleep in a bid to get those extra catching up hours. However, be warned about the consequences of sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation is one very fast-acting poison that will wreak havoc over your health and fitness levels. Clocking in good sleep hours might seem like a waste of time, but it is the cornerstone of good health. Read on to see how taking those required 7 to 9 hours of snooze time is essential to maintaining good mental well-being.

Sleep Deprivation

Simply put, sleep deprivation is a state where you have not received enough sleep. It can be both short-term and long-term, depending on the duration of sleep deprivation. Longer-term sleep deprivation is also known as chronic sleep deprivation. Apart from the duration, sleep deprivation also differs in its severity and hence its subsequent health effects.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Generally speaking, an adult needs about 7 to 9 hours depending upon certain factors. Anything less than these hours can lead to a state of sleeplessness that is detrimental to your overall well-being. However, some people might be able to function efficiently with lesser hours, or your body might need more than these hours. The trick is to make sure you understand and follow your body signals.

Signs to Look Out For

The human body is an amazing creation. If you learn to look at and consider your body signals, you can easily prevent serious health repercussions. The problem arises when you start training your body to overcome and ignore its natural alerts. Some signs and symptoms that your body will prompt you with when you are not getting enough sleep are:

  • Difficulty in getting up in the morning or having to drag yourself out of bed
  • Irritability and frequent mood swings
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Feeling lethargic and sleepy during the day
  • Poor concentration
  • Body aches and pains especially headaches and gritty eyes

Why Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Mind and Body

You must have had occasions when a sleepless night resulted in a horrible day when nothing worked, and you had a constant short temper. This is just the beginning of what sleep deprivation can do to you. Prolonged sleep deprivation has more dire consequences. It is known to manifest itself as serious medical conditions both physically and mentally.

This is because sleep is the rest window for your body. When you do not sleep, it throws your body’s rhythm out of gear. Sleep is the time when your body heals itself and prepares for the next day’s trials. It stocks up on energy and takes care of all the little strays that need a little work. Your immunity is re-enforced, and your muscles get a chance to re-calibrate. 

Certain hormones like “Dopamine” and “Melatonin” are directly related to the sleep cycle. Your body engages in producing these hormones during your sleep. These hormones are the “happy” hormones and are responsible for your stress and anxiety levels. Lower levels of melatonin and dopamine are related to clinical depression and adverse mood swings.

Needless to say, when you don’t allow your body this rest period, it does not carry out these important duties. Over time it will rebel with various conditions and simply crash. Every machine needs to take a break, and so does your body.

Sleep Deprivation and Mental Health

Sleep deprivation leads to severe mental conditions. Some of these are short term and can easily be rectified, but others are not so simple and need professional help and therapy to come out of.  Both of these effects are listed below:

Short-Term Manageable Effects

  • Mood Swings
  • Irritability
  • Panic Attacks
  • Short Temper
  • Low Productivity
  • General Feeling of Malaise

Long-Term Requiring Professional Help

  • Clinical Depression
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

Tips to Sleeping Well

Sleep is a very natural condition. You don’t need much effort to get a good night’s sleep. Just make sure that you understand the importance of sleep and don’t treat it as a waste of time better utilized elsewhere. Some pointers to help you sleep better are:

  • Concentrate on quality more than quantity
  • Follow a sleep routine
  • Good sleep hygiene
  • Regular exercise
  • De-stress with meditation and light yoga
  • Have a well-balanced diet

Sleep and Mental Wellness

Sleep is essential and cannot be replaced or ignored. To do so will be at your own peril. It is the easiest way to living healthily and an excellent source of proper balance. Make sleep your priority, especially if you want to avoid unnecessary troubles and mental issues. Remember, everything looks better after a good night’s rest. It gives you a fresh start to every day and is the best gift you can present yourself with.