Essay: Sleep Deprivation


There are a significant number of issues that come forward with human beings that are both mental and physical. Of these issues there are a number that span both, such as that of sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is as it would sound is when an individual is not obtaining the proper amount of sleep that their body needs and they are unable to move forward with their lives in a reasonable fashion because of the definitive lack of resources that they are providing themselves with. This is to note that sleep deprivation is often times linked to another series of problems. Sleep deprivation as a very serious and notable problem for the human body is categorized by the general causes, the effects on the body, and how sleep deprivation is linked to other normal functioning parts of one’s daily life and body. Sleep deprivation is not just common amongst the youth but there are problems that very clearly are affecting that of older individuals. Through research that has been conducted regarding sleep studies and the general benefits of humans who receive enough sleep it can be seen just how detrimental depriving oneself of rest can be. Throughout this modern age there are a series of ways in which as we as people are moving faster there is less time for people to take care of themselves. Taking care of oneself means to feed, clothe, and house ourselves in a fashion that is biologically appropriate for our bodies at their respective times of development, and sleep is a pivotal part of this. Sleep deprivation is a topic that many people feel they know about, but it is foremost important to strongly indicate the ways that there are certain problems that are the root cause of the issue at hand.

Sleep deprivation, meaning a lack of sleep to a notable extent, is characterized by a few medical terms. Sleep deprivation is thought of as a general way to state that an individual is not getting the adequate amount of sleep, and this can be either by choice or they are physically incapable of sleeping enough due to a sleep disorder (VIC). However, to speak about what sleep deprivation is it is foremost important to indicate the kinds of things that are the causes behind this issue. Sleep disorders are thought to be caused by a series of different issues, and the person that is suffering from this lack of sleep would need to be evaluated and spoken about in their own respective terms. This is to note that many times there is a personal choice to not sleep, and that is entirely in the hands of the patient. Many times if an individual is busy doing something such as catching up on school work, listening to music, or hanging out with their friends they are willing to oversee sleeping on a regular schedule (VIC). This personal choice is that many people are overestimating how much their body can handle in terms of not sleeping. This notes that the opportunity cost for them is leaning in the direction of whatever it is that they are staying up doing is more significant to them than to sleep at a reasonable hour and get the amount of rest they need. The personal choice of not sleeping is one that can be altered perhaps with age or a general lifestyle change. Therefore, an individual that is prioritizing partying and being out late at clubs or bars will at some point make a lifestyle change because they get burned out and will then alter their sleep schedule. Unless this individual does this their personal choice is one that directly guides them into sleep deprivation, and holds them back from sleeping the medically suggested amount of hours per night. Not all causes of sleep deprivation are personal choices, but it can be something masked a personal choice that rather is quite necessary. This is to note that people who work particular shifts are not able to get the required amount of sleep. Many jobs such as those that require frequent travel, like a flight attendant, have to be up at particular hours that does not allow them to live their life on the standard schedule that the average person is surviving on (VIC). There can be some individuals that feel as though work can be changed or that a new career path can be fulfilled in order to alter one’s sleep patterns. However, this not a reality for a multitude of individuals and it can be clear that people are able to work within their means, and many work schedules require people to be on call at odd hours throughout both the day and night. Not all issues that are put forth are with direct regard to completing some kind of project or working towards completing a task, but there is also the idea of medical issues being the cause.

Throughout the medical field it can be noted that sleep disorders are often causes of things such as sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can include psychiatric disorders such as depression and chronic insomnia (Lustberg and Reynolds III). There is the physiological reasoning behind sleep disorders which is that often times any abnormal behaviors in the person’s waking life can affect their ability to sleep (Lustberg and Reynolds III). This ability to sleep is noted by a shortened REM sleep latency cycle and it is present during a series of clinical depressive periods in a person’s life (Lustberg and Reynolds III). The lack of sleep can also perhaps be a indicator or a factor to leading on a depressive illness as well (Lustberg and Reynolds III). Very many times insomnia is something that will go away if the individual’s depression is treated, but there are ways in which the lack of sleep that is brought on can possibly continue on (Lustberg and Reynolds III). Many changes in sleep patterns can be directly caused to the ways in which the patient is able to deal with any preexisting or up and coming psychological disorders which will affect their recovery abilities (Lustberg and Reynolds III). With direct regard to this it is noted that many times an EEG will demonstrate just how there are lapses in the sleep patterns of the individual and that they are able to correlate the regulation of sleep with a general regulation of mood (Lustberg and Reynolds III).It is to note that sleep disorders are not uncommon but there is a direct estimation that nearly 50-70 million Americans are suffering from some kind of chronic sleep disorder (Institute of Medicine). Many sleep disorders include things such as that of sleep apnea which is marked by snoring and perhaps a regular sense of limb movement disorder which is that during sleep hours an individual will be disturbed multiple times making it difficult for them to sleep fully or comfortably (VIC). Many sleep disorders are the cause of sleep deprivation and it is through a number of different external factors that these sleep disorders can be exemplified. This is to note that many times if someone has a poor sleep hygiene then they will not be able to sleep as well as others that are more conscious of their well being and their actions. This speaks to the ways in which people’s daytime habits are affecting their sleep. Many individuals are often partaking in activities near bedtime that are stopping them from being able to sleep. Some of these common problems are drinking coffee or smoking cigarettes near bed time (VIC). Other problems often include things such as stress, in that they are constantly worrying and they are unable to lay in bed and relax, but their minds are constantly somewhere else. This is a pressing concern for people and it is that their sleep is less likely to occur in a natural and beneficial way because they are not allowing themselves to have the rest they need, which would help with their stress as well. The overall sleep environment of a room is also important, and this ranges from the temperature of the room to the sleep partner that someone has, in that perhaps they make too much noise and it is not the precise kind of environment that is necessary for proper sleep and care (VIC). Sleep deprivation is also commonly seen in new parents, in that their child is on a different schedule and they will frequently be awake and need some kind of contact, care, or feeding therefore the parent is required to be up for their child and this alters their natural circadian rhythm of sleeping (VIC). All of the aforementioned causes are all precursors to the actual effects of sleep deprivation. Thus, it can be said that with these factors bring on sleep disorders and sleep deficiency, which take on their own particular negative side effects both physically and mentally.

Medical professionals have been actively seeking out what the consequences of sleep deprivation can be, and there is no notion that they are in any way positive. The consequences of losing sleep are that a person is ultimately denying themselves of resources that are essential to them being fully, efficient, and effectively working human beings in their daily lives. Throughout an average day an individual will perhaps interact with others, operate some kind of machinery such as a car, and to some extent be expected to work in a professional or academic capacity. It is to note that the ways in which the public health can be altered by sleep deprivation is that there will be less responsible decisions made. There are notions that indicate that when someone is depleted in resources such as sleep they will act more impulsively. Some of these impulsive actions can be things such as overeating or perhaps more detrimental to their home or work life. These errors in judgment can contribute to significant damages, as noted by the NIH through an example of the disaster that occurred with the Challenger space shuttle (Institute of Medicine). The consequences of sleep deprivation are not always so explicit such as the disaster for NASA, but rather there are many things that are seen on a personal level. Many of these consequences include things such as mortality if the sleep is deprived for too long of a period of time. The human body needs sleep in order to function and have the body regroup from all of the days actions, and not seeking out this proper rest will begin to degrade the bodies natural resources (Institute of Medicine). Additionally, consequences of sleep deprivation can be that there are a series of accidents and injuries that can occur because the overall quality of life is being diminished(Institute of Medicine). When an individual does not get the right amount of sleep they will feel an overwhelming sense of sleepiness throughout the day and that will lead to them being careless because they are unable to use their full attention to whatever the task they are doing is. These functions can be anything from not paying attention to where they are walking to operating a machine irresponsibly. Therefore, many things such as automobile crashes and problems with performance and attempting to work within their normal parameters are no longer an option if sleep deprivation is present (Institute of Medicine). Many times sleep deprivation can physically start to affect the body in which some people experience slight shaking or trembling that occurs sporadically throughout their day as their body is attempting to make up for some kind of deprivation and acting out physically (Kilgore). There are a number of higher level cognitive functioning’s that are thought to be negatively affected by sleep deprivation. This is to note that many things that are executive functions that are using prefrontal cortex will alter the ways that it can impair the attention processes of a human being (Kilgore). Sleep deprivation therefore, has in multiple studies, come forward and noted that it will impair human functioning and that this is through diminishing cognitive and motor performance (June, Huffcutt, and Allen). Sleep deprivation has been shown to actively affect things such as decision-making that involves anything unexpected (Harrison and Horne). This is to speak directly to the ways that when an individual is suffering from sleep deprivation they are unable to be innovate or think about any sort of potential revision that will assist them in the long term and their overall sense of communication is not as effective as it would be had they had the proper amount of rest for their age and body (Harrison and Horne). It is clear that many times people aim to come forward and alleviate their sleep deprivation through a series of different techniques.

There is some indication that perhaps caffeine can help with sleep deprivation, but there are a number of different side effects that come forth with that method. Sleep deprivation can occur in both the short and long term, and each comes with their own subsequent issues as noted. To alleviate a short term sleep deprivation with caffeine is to use things such as coffee or caffeine pills to move forward with making oneself feel as though they are not sleep and perhaps full of energy. Using a high dose of caffeine to attempt to reverse the affects of sleep deprivation can perhaps alter some sense of alternateness as well as mood (Penetar, McCann, Thorne, et al…). This notes that after a high dose of caffeine there is a slight reverse in some categories such as the vigor, confusion, and fatigue of the individual during the study, and that there is still some set backs (Penetar, McCann, Thorne, et al…). These setbacks are directly regarded as the ways in which they are not long lasting effects, but that caffeine was able to put forth an alert and elevated mood for individuals that had been deprived of sleep for nearly 48 hours (Penetar, McCann, Thorne, et al…). The implications of these studies are that caffeine or other mood boosters will help, but it is clear that they are only beneficial momentarily and that getting, or attempting to sleep regularly is the ultimate way to deal with sleep deprivation.

Therefore, it can be noted that sleep deprivation is something that ails millions of Americans and the causes of which range from medical to lifestyle choices. Despite the cause of the sleep deprivation the effects are an overall sense of tiredness, lack of attention, and decreased motor and cognitive functioning’s. The information on sleep deprivation is substantial but it can be noted that more research and care should be given directly to people so that they may start living their lives in a way in which sleep deprivation does not become a pressing issue.