At some point in our lives, we will all deal with sleep deprivation of some kind. Whether it is a small amount over the course of a few years or in large quantities facing us on a daily basis. Sleep deprivation is considered to be a serious medical issue that will affect roughly a million people every year.
We are told numerous times during our lives not to drink and drive and not to drive under the influence of drugs. But driving while sleep deprived is just as dangerous as driving while drunk.
Your mind is clouded and you may arrive at your destination, but you probably won’t know how you got there. Sleep deprivation is not the same thing as being tried and a little groggy in the morning. The majority of people are still tired in the mornings and require a few extra minutes to completely wake up.
Causes of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation can present itself in many different forms, but the most common form is insomnia. People who suffer from insomnia are considered highest on the list for risk of sleep deprivation, followed closely by those with grueling work schedules that require them to fly or drive multiple times a week.
New parents and people who work swing shifts are also high on the list, as it takes time for the body to adjust to a new schedule. The most common profession that has a high number of sleep deprived employees is long haul truck driving.
Most of these men and women are on tight deadlines and must drive through the night on a regular basis. Staying awake all hours of the night and continuing to drive once daylight has hit is extremely dangerous, as their bodies are forced to stay in wake mode for longer.
Sleep deprivation can cause one to experience serious health effects if they do not have their symptoms checked out immediately. They may experience a weakening of their immune systems, moderate to extreme emotional responses to common situations, and the craving to pick up sleeping pills or other drugs to help them fall asleep.
These occur in both men and women and can be extremely dangerous if not treated properly. Because of sleep deprivation, many people can develop an addiction to sleep medication because they find it is the only way to not only help them get to sleep, but to also stay asleep. So they take it on a daily basis, not considering that it can actually be doing them more harm than good.
Diet also plays a role in how long sleep deprivation can last for many people. In the majority of people who suffer from sleep deprivation, their diet is high in sugar, carbs, and stimulants such as soda and coffee. Not only do these cause your waist line to expand, they can also cause your sleep deprivation to become more severe.
Instead of making healthy choices in the mornings and then again throughout the day, they begin the day with something unhealthy and it drags their body into a slump. While it may not be easy to do, actively trying to make healthy choices in the morning can be a natural way to reduce your sleep deprivation without medical intervention.
Research indicates that in order to help reduce your sleep deprivation, a healthy diet and daily exercise is key. While a healthy diet and exercise will not completely resolve your problem, it can help reduce it. Combined with treatment from your doctor, it can get you back into a normal sleep routine.
Simple Changes to Combat Sleep Deprivation
There are a few things you can do to reduce your sleep deprivation while you are waiting to be seen by your medical doctor. These are things that you can continue to do after you have been evaluated by your doctor as a part of your overall treatment plan.
It is very important to understand that while these things are easy to achieve, they are not meant to be a quick fix and will not completely “cure” you of your sleep deprivation. These are natural things that are meant to be combined with what your doctor suggests for your treatment plan.
1. No Rushing
Before you rush out of bed and into your morning routine, take a few minutes to allow your mind and body to completely wake up. Continuously rushing around in the mornings will cause you to make those bad diet choices that will follow you around for the rest of the day.
Try to wake a little earlier than usual and actually sit down to have your breakfast, or take the time to do light yoga or meditation before beginning your day. How you wake up in the mornings and the daily routine that you set for yourself will determine not only how your day goes, but also how severe your sleep deprivation can become.
2. Get Moving
It doesn’t matter how you slept the night before, whether it was none at all or just an hour, get moving in the mornings. You’re obviously tired in the mornings and more than likely do not feel like exercising or taking a class at the gym before sunrise.
And while that is fine, as there are people who do sleep at night and who don’t go to the gym in the mornings, you still need to find a way to get your body moving and allow your blood to really circulate throughout your body. It can be a very simple thing, especially if you are trying it for the first time.
Walk around your bathroom while you’re brush your teeth, or do lunges or squats while packing lunches. Find a simple move to get your blood flowing and then add it into a part of your daily routine.
Not only are you getting a light form of exercise, but you are also allowing your blood to circulate properly. Exercising, no matter how little, will allow your day to begin on a positive note and will help you to feel better and make better choices throughout your day.
3. Eat Healthy
This one may be more difficult than getting up in the morning and trying to exercise. It is so easy to go and eat a quick muffin or swing through a fast food place to get something for breakfast. But this is where you make your first mistake and it will stay with you throughout the day.
Taking the extra time in the mornings to wake up earlier and have a healthy breakfast will get you started right. There are programs and websites out there that can actually help you to plan out your weekly meals and prep them in advance. This will allow you to know that you have a healthy day ahead of you and will keep you from making those bad choices.
It is also important to make sure that you resist temptations while you are at work or at the grocery store. Have healthy snacks on hand at work so you aren’t tempted to eat those cupcakes or brownies in the break room. Eat a handful of almonds or baby carrots before going grocery shopping so you aren’t tempted to try samples or impulse buy because you are hungry.
Research also indicates that you should not be eating dinner or any food after 8:00 p.m. If you choose to eat after this time, you are not allowing your food enough time to digest before you go to bed and that alone can keep you up at night.
Your body converts food into energy and eating closer to your bedtime will mean that either when you go to bed or at some point during the night, you will wake up with energy that you can’t get rid of. Try limiting your meals to no later than 8:00 p.m., and even earlier if you can help it.
4. Create A Calming Routine
As adults, we more often than not do not have a bedtime routine like we did as children or young adults. When bedtime comes around, we simply lay down and try to sleep, but that isn’t the way we need to be going about it. It is important for adults to also have a bedtime routine to help us fall into a restful sleep and make sure that we are able to stay asleep throughout the night.
This means no electronic devices, TV, or social media at least one hour before bed. This is the time to read a book, magazine, or do simple yoga or meditation.
Prepare your body for rest in a dark room, and sleep in the dark room without the light of the TV playing. While most people become dependent on a TV to help them fall asleep, it is actually causing them to sleep restlessly and can be a major factor in what is keeping them awake.
It certainly won’t be easy to give up sleeping with a TV on or playing games on your phone before bed, but it is what you need. If you find that these things are not helping, or maybe you want to try a different tactic, there are other options.
Many people use diffusers with soothing oils in them to help them fall asleep. The right oils released into the air can allow a person to float to sleep gradually and not all at one time.
This will allow their brain to shut down all of the things running through it and naturally cause them to not only be able to fall asleep, but to also stay asleep. You should not expect for this to work immediately or on the first try. It will take some time for your body to adjust to a new routine, but once you have achieved success with it, it will be worth it.
Warnings & Precautions
If you are experiencing sleep deprivation on any scale (mild, moderate, or severe), you need to consult with your medical doctor. This is a serious issue that needs to be handled by a professional, though you can help your treatment by trying some natural remedies.
It is important to remember that you do not want to try sleep medications or supplements as you can become addicted to them and at that point you will have a larger problem. If you believe that you are experiencing sleep deprivation, try taking a natural route before you see your doctor so your body has time to adjust to a new routine.
You do not want to shock your body by completely cutting off everything that you have always done. It is better to try and remove bad habits gradually over time, though it should not take you more than a month to be completely rid of those bad habits. Talk with your doctor about what you are doing and what you hope to implement in the future when it comes to your sleep health.
You will want to make sure that they are on the same page with you for every step of your journey back to restful sleep. It is important to make sure that you are following their advice for how things should be done and working with them to make sure that you are doing each step correctly.
Sleep Deprivation Effects Final Words
It will take some time to get adjusted to a new routine and you will probably have issues along the way, but it is important to stick with it even after you have achieved your goal. If you have experienced severe sleep deprivation, then it is easier for you to fall back into the bad habits that caused the issue in the first place.
You will need to take every step available to you to make sure that you succeed in your goal and that you can continue to improve over the course of your life. If you are married or living with a partner, it would be beneficial to you to have them follow the same routine, or to at the very least respect your routine. Support is the biggest and best thing you will need while on this journey.