The Bad Mojo of Sleep Deprivation

How many hours constitute enough sleep?  Everyone has heard at some point in their life that a person needs a good 8 hours of sleep.  That number, however, is not set in stone.  For example, infants need about 16 hours of sleep a day, teenagers need about 9 hours, and women in their first trimester of pregnancy need several more hours than the average adult.  Obtaining too little sleep is called “sleep deprivation”.  If your body requires 10 hours of sleep, and you only sleep for 6 hours, you owe your body 4 hours.  This I called sleep “debt.”

What causes sleep deprivation?

There are many things that contribute to loss of sleep. Thankfully, most are correctable. Behavioral choice, shift work, family obligations, stress and needing a new mattress are some examples.  Other things like insomnia, anxiety and other medical problems may require a consultation with a physician in order to be rectified.

How do you know you are sleep deprived?

Common sleep deprivation symptoms include memory problems, feeling depressed, fatigue, weakened immune system, paranoia, difficulty concentrating and hallucinations.  Discomfort, malaise and other generalized body aches can lead to fibromyalgia or other chronic pain conditions.  Chronic stomach issues and obesity have also been linked to long-term sleep deprivation.

How do you fix it?

Thankfully, the treatment for sleep deprivation is to sleep!  Improve your sleep habits by going to bed when you are tired, pay back your sleep debt, follow a routine, and turn off electrical devices when you go to bed.  Make sure your room is dark, quiet and comfortably cool.  Reading, soothing caffeine-free teas, relaxing essential oils, meditation, and getting regular exercise are also good things to try.  And of course, purchase a new mattress if needed.

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