Having a bad night’s sleep is quite normal when it happens every now and again. However, not getting regular, restful sleep goes beyond feeling a little tired in the morning. Lack of adequate sleep can affect work performance, relationships, and an individual’s overall wellbeing and quality of life. It can also result in the development and/or exacerbation of long term health conditions. So let’s take a closer look at sleep deprivation - define what it exactly is, what causes it, its effects on both the mind and the body, and how it can be treated.
What is sleep deprivation?
Sleep deprivation is what happens when your body does not get enough sleep on a routine basis. There’s a certain amount of sleep your body needs in order to function well. For an adult, this can be anywhere between six to eight hours. However, there isn’t a single magic number for the exact number needed - it all comes down to the individual and their requirements.
It’s not just the amount of sleep that can contribute to the effects of lack of sleep. Sleep quality can also affect sleep deprivation. Some symptoms may only last a few days, and some are ongoing and last months.
Before we go further, do note that sleep deprivation is different to insomnia. As sleep consultant and NHS sleep coach Katie Fischer notes, “[They both] share similar negative effects… However, whereas insomniacs have trouble initiating sleep or maintaining sleep despite prioritising regular opportunity, sleep deprivation typ