Sleep has been defined by the free dictionary as a natural occurrence among humans and animals which involves periodic rest, closing of the eyelids, decreased movement of the body, a partial or complete loss of consciousness and reduced responsiveness to external stimuli. A condition of not having enough sleep is referred to as sleep deprivation and the condition could either be chronic or acute.
Natural functions of sleep
Sleep has several natural functions which are critically important for the maintenance of sound physical and mental health. Scientists have carried out many studies over the years to determine why humans sleep but they have not reached any final conclusions. However, research indicates that sleep performs some important biological functions without which we would develop several health complications. Some scientific theories have been put forward to explain why we sleep. Sleep seems to rejuvenate and reenergize our minds and bodies for optimal health. Scientific research suggests that sleep plays some part in the development of the brains of infants who spend about 14 hours a day sleeping.
Causes of sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation or sleep disturbance may be caused by a variety of factors. It might be due to environmental factors such as excessive noise or sleeping in a room that is over lighted. It might also be due to stress either physical or emotional or a traumatic event. Diet or exercise is also capable of causing sleep deprivation. Drug abuse may also lead to sleep disturbance such as the use of alcohol or caffeinated drinks. Excessively hectic schedules such as academic or work schedules may lead to an onset of sleep deprivation. Medical or psychological conditions could also give rise to sleep deprivation. For instance, mood disorders are capable of causing disturbances of sleep.
Effects of sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation has many debilitating effects on people. One of such effects is that it slows down reaction times in the sufferers thereby creating room for major disasters on our roads and public places. Lack of sleep has a generally reductive effect upon our powers of cognition thus affecting our attention span, alertness and even memory. Sleep deprivation may lead to all sorts of nervous conditions and heart problem. It also reduces our libido or sex drive.
Solutions to sleep deprivation
With the myriads of problems associated with sleep deprivation, it is helpful if we get some tips on how to avoid or overcome this problem. The first step if you’re experiencing sleep disturbance is to run a basic self-diagnosis by thinking about what seems to be causing it. If for instance your environment is unconducive for sleep, you might need to adjust it. Also, it is necessary to avoid too strenuous activity close to your bedtime.