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Deprived from Sleep? Let the Sleeping Dogs Lie.

Deprived from Sleep

It has been long known just how important sleep is for human beings. Indeed, just try and function on a few hours of shut-eye and dozen cups of coffee and it might work for a day or two, but the chances are that this gig will not last you a long time. And while it might be hilarious going online and looking for videos of children who are falling asleep mid-action (it can certainly brighten up one’s day), this scenario is far less welcoming when adults become deprived from sleep.

Think doctor, truck driver or a pilot, and the reality of just how dangerous sleep deprivation can be sunk in rapidly.

Yet, there are still those who walk around saying ludicrous and callous things such as “Oh, I’ll sleep when I die.” Factually speaking, that sentiment is completely true. However, one would think this is one scenario best left for old age when you’ve lived your life well and long.

What happens though, when getting enough sleep is an uphill struggle? When being deprived from sleep is not down to a couple of nights when you had to work late or your baby was up for some 2 in the morning “special mummy/daddy and me” time?

What happens when staring at the ceiling and turning around in your bed is an every-day reality and great tips that work for other people simply fail with you?

Being Deprived from Sleep – the Malady of the 21st Century Human

It would seem that humans sleep less and less, or, to be more precise – they do not sleep enough. In fact, it seems that 40 million Americans suffer from long-term sleep problems, with an additional 20 million reportedly having occasional problems sleeping.

While we might joke that the only true reason to go to bed is to get our “beauty sleep”, the reality is far more complex.

This alarming statistic of sleep-deprived people is believed to be linked to several serious health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, asthma, depression, and diabetes.

To make matters worse, there can be fatal consequences because of a lack of sleep.

Especially vulnerable are health care workers such as nurses and doctors who work in night shifts.

Humans are naturally inclined to follow the circadian rhythm, which is closely linked to the natural day-night cycle. This, more than anything else, has been tampered with in the 21st century when we have an endless source of light 24/7. Where before people and the jobs they did heavily depended on the natural day and night cycle and went to bed accordingly, nowadays we all stay up much too late fiddling with our mobile phones, watching TV or working on our laptops into the wee hours of the night. The trouble is, most of us also have to get up fairly early in the morning no matter the time we finally went to bed or how deprived from sleep we feel. Having young children and juggling a career can add even more stress.

Then there are the modern jobs too. Most are sedentary, computer-centered, and can go on for much longer than 8 hours per day. Fast-paced, competitive, and sometimes even toxic working environment does little to help alleviate the stress levels. All of this can have a profound impact on our sleep quality as well as the amount of sleep we manage to clock in. Over time all this adds up and can result not just in perpetual tiredness, but can have adverse consequences health-wise.

Common Sleep Disorders Then and Now

On the other hand, sleep disorders are not just something that popped its head up in the modern age where carefully created schedules and technology rule our day to day lives.

There are plenty of written records detailing sleep disorders tormenting famous historical figures such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Mozart, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, and many others.

Their daily routine did not include a school run, cooking, running numerous meetings, and maniacally tapping away on the keyboard for hours on end while pale white and blue LED light delivers an endless supply of brightness needed to get the job done. Yet, they all had problems sleeping as well as some rather bizarre sleeping habits

One might reasonably argue that these people also had punishing workdays and burning ambition, which often fueled their drive. As expected, they became creative in trying to deal with their sleep inflictions ranging from insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, parasomnia, and similar issues which often left them deprived from sleep.

However, what is common to all these people is the fact they still managed to have more or less successful careers and private lives. This leads us to a very interesting chapter when it comes to sleep – the VIP group that sleeps 6 hours per night or less and still functions without any issues.

One might reasonably argue that these people also had punishing workdays and burning ambition, which often fueled their drive. As expected, they became creative in trying to deal with their sleep inflictions ranging from insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, parasomnia, and other sleep issues.

However, what is common to all these people is the fact they still managed to have more or less successful careers and private lives. This leads us to a very interesting chapter when it comes to sleep – the VIP group that sleeps 6 hours per night or less and still functions without any issues.

Sleep Less, Do More, Thrive – Can it Be Done?

Can one really thrive, be healthy, and sleep 6 hours or less?

Short answer – yes.

And then there is the “but” bit that inevitably comes with this. Yes, this is possible, but only if a person is genetically predisposed to need less sleep than the usual 7 to 9 hours.

A specific gene mutation (which often occurs in the same family) is responsible for needing less sleep and still be a highly functional individual without any ill consequences to their physical of mental health. Everybody else still needs to sleep the usual 7 to 9 hours per day to be able to maintain their overall health.

Let the Sleeping Dog Lie? Yes, but Not Always.

A well-known idiom and certainly one we have all followed in the course of a lifetime. However, there are times when this is applicable and times when we have to take a different route. Sleeping is one area in life where such a compromise is neither advisable nor is it sustainable for prolonged periods of time.

One or two sleepless nights will make for a grumpy, tired individual, who will not be of much use at work that day. Being perpetually deprived from sleep can have dreadful and unwanted consequences.

Luckily, we do live in a world where we can seek and find the help we need for sleep disorders. Those range from various therapies, sleep medication, CBD oil as well as some clever tech solutions, and beneficial lifestyle changes.

Conclusion

The fact remains that sleep is an important and integral part of our lives and it cannot and should not be pushed to the outskirts simply because we have things to do and the day seems much too short to cram everything in. The situation becomes even more complex if sleepless nights become our long-term bed buddy. There is no point in struggling with sleep disorders in silence.

Instead, those who do experience these debilitating issues should seek help without delay. It might seem a tad dramatic to say your life depends on it, but your sanity certainly does. And if left untreated, yes your life too.

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