Think about the last encounter you had with a friend or co-worker where you discussed sleep. You probably said something like, “You wouldn’t believe how tired I am! I only slept for five hours last night.” Your friendly likely responded with, “That’s nothing! I only got three hours of sleep.”
Examining this interaction, one would be led to believe that getting just a couple hours of sleep is worthy of a badge of honor. On the other hand, I’ll tell you something quite different.
What are the consequences of sleep deprivation?
When I have a client come into my office, one of the first questions I ask them is “How much sleep are you getting?” Have you ever thought about your sleep habits might affect your mental health? Sleep deprivation is clearly linked to increased anxiety, depression, and even psychosis in patients. In my experience clients who are suffering from any mental disorders will typically see symptoms improve remarkably with adequate shut eye.
Arguably the most dangerous consequence of sleep deprivation is a slower response time. The adage that a tired driver is more dangerous than a drunk driver is has been established over and over again in studies; cognitive effects of sleep deprivation may lead to mistakes, errors in judgment, and even psychosis. This relates to memory storage and even the decision-making process. If you haven’t been getting enough sleep, you are probably missing details at work or working on projects for school.
How much sleep do I need?
Truth be told, there really isn’t a specific amount of sleep that each person should aim for. Some people operate just fine with six hours, but some people need more than eight. Generally, you should always wake up feeling refreshed just a few minutes before the alarm rings.
What can I do to avoid sleep deprivation?
Sometimes going to bed earlier seems like an impossible feat, especially when issues like stress, temperature and diet come into play. You can create a bedtime ritual that gets your mind ready for sleep. Shut off the television and keep the electronics out of the bedroom for better sleep, and consider practicing good sleep hygiene.
Sleep deprivation is often related to psychological disorders. If this is the case, a therapist may be able to help. Hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are both useful tools a professional might use to help you change your sleeping habits.