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The Lasting Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a significant issue that may negatively impact your mental and physical health.

According to World Sleep Day data, sleep disorders are a “global epidemic” that threatens the quality of life and health of up to 45% of people globally.

A recent study revealed that even for the younger population, recovering lost sleep is not an easy feat. Thirteen individuals in their twenties who slept 30% less than they needed for ten nights had not fully recovered most of their cognitive functioning after seven nights of rest.

Sleep specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta, from the University of Southern California, confirms study findings that cognitive processes such as memory and mental processing speed are not restored quickly after sleep deprivation. 

Your brain needs sleep 

The findings of the study are consistent with previous research. 

In lab-based sleep research, persons who slept less than six hours each night for two weeks performed just as poorly on cognitive and reflex tasks as people who were deprived of sleep for two full nights.

It is imperative to provide the brain with uninterrupted sleep cycles to absorb new abilities, establish important memories, and physically mend and rebuild the body on a cellular level from the day’s excessive wear.

Sleep disruption for even one night can disrupt this crucial part of functioning. 

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), remaining awake for just 18 hours renders you an impaired driver the same way a person with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05% would be.

The CDC refers to the mounting numbers of people struggling with sleep disorders as a “public health problem” due to the higher associated risk of high blood pressure, weakened immune performance, weight gain, depression, and numerous other health conditions.

What are the solutions?

Sleep experts agree that prevention is the best medicine when it comes to sleep deprivation. 

Among the ways to improve sleep may be avoiding smoking, keeping alcohol use at a minimum, eating healthy, and getting regular exercise.

Bedtime routines are a common method for training your brain to get better sleep. It is referred to as “sleep hygiene” which includes not using electronic devices two hours before sleep.