Occasional sleep interruptions can negatively affect the quality of your sleep; but if occurring for long term, they can negatively affect your well-being. More often than not, sleep deprivation impairs a person’s ability to function and perform everyday, regardless of the nature and importance of your day-to-day activities.
Adverse Health Effects of Chronic Sleep Deprivation
Chronic sleep deprivation is a condition in which a person cannot complete a full sleep cycle that ideally, should last for at least 6 to 7 hours. Sleep deprivation becomes chronic if it extends for months as a result of stressful physical or emotional conditions. Sleep deprivation that becomes chronic increases risks of developing health detriments such as:
Impairment of the immune system that makes the body vulnerable to infections; making it more difficult to resolve the sleep disorder.
Persistent lack of sleep affects hormones that triggers food craving which can lead to increased fat storage. In such cases, the glands produce more insulin, which can heighten the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Constant sleep disruptions alter the body’s regulatory processes of preventing tissue inflammations, controlling sugar levels, and in maintaining normal blood pressure.
Other hormone productions can be altered as a result of chronic sleep deprivation. Hormonal imbalances can increase the release of stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine.
A continuing lack of sleep will cause distress to the brain’s amygdala, the section that sends signals related to negative emotions like fear and anxiety.
Such an occurrence in turn, can impact the functions of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the brain part in charge of processing thoughts pertaining to reasoning, or in forming new memories that help in an individual’s learning ability.
Sleep Apnea and Its Link to Sleep Deprivation
A study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that in the U.S. approximately 18 million adults and 10 to 20% of the country’s children suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Although OSA is generally not diagnosed as a serious health problem, individuals who experience moderate to severe sleep apnea are advised to seek medical attention to avoid the health issues resulting from chronic sleep deprivation.
Individuals diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea experience breathing stoppages during sleep, because their body’s upper airway is physically blocked. The treatments for sleep apnea vary and depend on the cause and severity of its effect. The main goal of sleep apnea treatments is to normalize an individual’s breathing while sleeping as aid in resolving any underlying health conditions.
Lifestyle Change as Natural Remedy for Sleep Apnea
As in any health issue, the first order in the treatment of sleep apnea is to undergo lifestyle changes. To normalize breathing when sleeping, the most significant and critical changes involve quitting any vices such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption; and eating healthy with particular focus on food that works best for the heart.
Other helpful lifestyle changes include managing weight, sleeping on one’s side, or sleeping on one’s back but with the head raised at a 60 degree angle if sleeping on one’s side is not feasible.
Medical Treatment Options
OTC Medications – Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter options if your breathing difficulty is caused by allergy. Nasal decongestants can reduce the fluid buildup and swelling in the nasal passages as a way to increase airflow.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy – This is regarded as the main treatment for sleep apnea, which requires the wearing of a mask designed to keep the airway open by applying a constant stream of positive pressure. However, some individuals experience discomfort in the use of CPAP mask that they tend to stop using it before improvements are achieved. .
Organic Sleeping Aids– These sleeping aids are formulated with essential oil extracts derived from organic plants like cannabis, ashwagandha, valerian roots or guarana. However, they should only be used after consultation with a sleep specialist.