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Chronic Lack of Sleep and its Impacts | VitalAire

Monday, November 1, 2021 - Facts about sleep
man unable to sleep at night

Suffering from Chronic Lack of Sleep? Find Out Why

Have you ever woken up in the morning and wondered, “why am I still tired?”

Sleep deprivation occurs when a person is not getting enough  sleep on a regular basis. Going to bed too late, waking up continuously throughout the night, and not prioritizing your sleep routine are common causes of inadequate sleep or poor quality sleep.

The CDC recommends that adults should get a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night in order to support a healthy lifestyle. And while this may seem like an easy enough task to some, many people regularly experience chronic sleep deprivation and fatigue.

Why Is Sleep So Important?

Sleep plays an important role in the health of every system in our bodies. When we are asleep, our brain is able to recharge, refresh, recalibrate, and get ready for the day ahead. During deep sleep, our hormonal levels are balanced, the immune system is strengthened, and all of the memories from your busy day are compartmentalized and stored away. 

Did you know that 1 in 4 Canadian Adults has sleep apnea? Find out what sleep apnea feels like and if you or your loved one are at risk. 

Poor sleep is the starting point of many serious consequences to your general health and wellbeing.

The Impacts of Poor Sleep Quality

Besides waking up feeling exhausted and unrested, chronic insufficient sleep has an effect on a wide variety of body functions and systems.

Here are some of the most common negative health impacts of lack of sleep:

Impaired brain function Increased blood pressure 
Sleep has a significant impact on your brain function. When someone is sleep-deprived, mental functions are impaired. Examples include poorer mood regulation, impaired short-term and long-term memory, and an increased risk for accidents and falls. People who regularly do not get enough sleep are at an elevated risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Chronic stress and fatigue are contributing factors to increased blood pressure values. 
Poorer coping mechanisms during stress  Increased risk of developing diseases

When we are over-tired, we are less capable of handling stressful situations. Emotional outbursts and increased anxiety levels are common in people with sleep deprivation.

Sleep has a massive impact on your overall physical and mental health. The risk of developing health conditions such as diabetes, depression, heart attacks, and strokes increases with chronic sleep deprivation.

Weakened immune system  Weight gain
Our immune system is able to reset and recover as we sleep.  When we do not get enough deep sleep, our immune system is weakened and we are more likely to become ill. When we sleep, our hormonal levels are recalibrated and balanced. This includes the hormones connected to the feeling of fullness after eating. Having poor sleep quality can increase our risk of overconsumption of food and weight gain.

Causes of Impaired Sleep

Unfortunately, there are many different reasons why people have chronic poor sleep. Ranging from lifestyle habits to sleep disorders, causes of sleep deprivation each has their own unique treatment option. Some of the most common causes of sleep deprivation include:

Sleep apnea Blue light exposure

A Common cause of poor sleep is undiagnosed sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is identified when people experience long periods of apnea (pauses in breathing) during sleep, and with  severe sleep apnea, people wake up multiple times throughout the night. While getting a sleep apnea diagnosis can be frightening, it is the first step to receiving the proper care and treatment needed to reduce symptoms and improve overall health.

Are you spending too much time in the evening watching TV or scrolling on your phone? Research has shown that exposure to blue light into the night can impact your natural circadian rhythm and reduce the amount of melatonin released as you try to sleep. LIght acts as an alerting signal to the brain.
Chronic stress Insomnia
As the line between our home life and work-life continues to blur, high levels of stress are becoming more common. Tossing and turning all night as you stress over your work assignments is a common cause of lack of sleep in adults. Insomnia is a chronic sleep disorder. Characterized by symptoms such as having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night, people with insomnia are chronically sleep-deprived. Many people with this condition develop other health conditions as a result of poor sleep.

What You Can Do To Improve Your Sleep Quality

If you are looking for ways to improve your sleep quality, we’ve got some helpful suggestions and tools for you.

Simply starting with making sleep a priority in your daily routine is a big help. Putting in the effort to reduce your nightly screen exposure, create a comfortable sleep environment, and trying to reduce stress before bed are great tips to promote better sleep health.

If you’re interested in learning more about your sleep habits and common sleep disorders, Vitalaire has a free sleep apnea assessment quiz. Designed to assess your possible risk factors for sleep disorders, our quiz can get you connected to a sleep health professional who is ready to help. 

Take our quiz today to learn more about sleep apnea and how to stop snoring.

If you have any additional questions about sleep deprivation and sleep disorders, we would love to help. Please feel free to contact us to get connected to a Vitalaire sleep health educator. 

About the Author

Dr. Raymond Gottschalk MB ChB, FRCPC, FCCP. D, ABIM, D, ABSM Sleep

Dr. Raymond Gottschalk is the medical director for VitalAire Canada and is co-chair of the sleep medicine training program at McMasterUniversity with Dr. Juliana Li. Dr. Gottschalk is also the co-chair for the CPSO task force in sleep medicine and helped co-author the CPSO guidelines for the IHF in sleep and respiratory medicine. He has clinics in St Catharines, Hamilton and in the Cambridge Memorial Hospital.