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The Effects of Sleep Deprivation & Why to Avoid Them

Women suffering the symptoms of sleep deprivation

We know that oxygen, water, food, and shelter are essential for our individual survival. What about sleep, and how important is it to affect the effects of sleep deprivation?

Sleep is essential for good health, wellbeing, and safety. It is the key to our performance, memory, and concentration. But too many of us are unaware of just how crucial it is. 

According to The NZ Ministry of Health, in 2020-2021, 31% of New Zealanders over the age of 15 years did not get the recommended amount of sleep required in 24 hours. Those living in lower socioeconomic conditions were more sleep deprived than those in the least-deprived areas. There was no significant difference in sleep deprivation rates between men and women, though women’s sleep quality tended to be poorer

Furthermore, people with disabilities were more at risk, with only half meeting the standard sleep recommendations.

More NZ Sleep Statistics…

  • People ages 35-49 are the most sleep-deprived with stress and electronic devices noted as the biggest sleep disruptors. 
  • Up to 25% of New Zealanders feel fatigued every day, with rates of 36% for people under the age of 30. 
  • 11% of New Zealanders have fallen asleep while driving. 
  • 50% of people in NZ use an electronic device within the hour before bed.

Sleep deprivation had much wider effects than on an individual basis. 

Did You Know? The causes of many of the world’s most infamous man-made disasters have been directly linked to sleep deprivation. These include (but are not limited to): 

  • Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (1989)
  • Challenger Space Shuttle Explosion (1986)
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster (1986)
  • Air India Express Plane Crash (2010)
  • Three Mile Island Nuclear Incident (1979)

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep specialists and doctors recommend that a healthy adult gets 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night – but most people average just 6.9 hours on weeknights, with a little more at weekends in most cases. 

Sleep deprivation is a term used to describe inadequate sleep. It may be voluntary or involuntary; regardless, the consequences of sleep deprivation are significant. This is because having not enough sleep or experiencing disruptions to the natural sleep-wake cycle (including those caused by shift work, jet lag, and snoring) causes fatigue

Symptoms of sleep deprivation include:

  • You wake feeling headachy or groggy
  • Feeling sleepy or flat during the day
  • Issues with concentration, memory, and focus
  • Physical performance issues
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Dozing off at the desk, in meetings, or when watching TV, reading, etc
  • “Mid-afternoon slump”
  • Yawning constantly

Children respond to lack of sleep in different ways than adults do. Tired children are inclined to initially become more energised as opposed to slowing down. They are prone to temper tantrums and general moodiness, as well as emotional lability and behaviour issues. They may be reluctant to get out of bed in the morning and will likely need longer daytime naps – further disrupting their night-time sleep cycles.


Why You Must Avoid Sleep Deprivation

Getting adequate, good-quality sleep is imperative for one’s health and well-being – physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is also essential for optimal performance and safety.

Sleep deprivation, especially if chronic, leads to:

  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Impaired judgement
  • Slow reaction times
  • Shorter attention span
  • Poor concentration
  • Reduced awareness and efficiency
  • Higher accident risk
  • Memory issues
  • Poor learning ability and performance in examinations and tasks
  • Social and interpersonal issues
  • Workplace incidents and accidents; mistakes; errors of omission
  • Chronic stress
  • Weight gain
  • Disinclination to make healthy lifestyle choices
  • Microsleeps, especially when driving 
  • Higher long-term risk of developing chronic medical conditions, including obesity, obstructive sleep apnoea, diabetes, anxiety, depression, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers.

Researchers have proven that a person who does not sleep for 24 hours experiences detrimental effects (including diminished hand-eye coordination) comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.1.

Tips for Sleeping Better

  1. You need to understand why you’re not sleeping well.
    Common causes of sleep deprivation may include:

    1. Snoring
    2. Obstructive sleep apnoea
    3. Insomnia
    4. Restless leg syndrome
    5. Stress
    6. Certain medications
    7. Illness (colds, flu, sinusitis, etc) or pain (arthritis, indigestion, etc)
    8. Obesity
    9. Lack of exercise
    10. Caffeine consumption
    11. Alcohol consumption
    12. Smoking 
    13. Shift work
    14. Travel (jet lag)
    15. Poor sleeping environment
    16. Using electronic devices in bed
    17. Having babies or young children
    18. Voluntarily staying up too late 
  2. Understand how much sleep you need. Children aged 5-12 require 9-10 hours per night. Teens need around 9-10 hours also but possibly shifted to later waking and later bedtime at night. Most adults need an average of 8 hours, with some needing 7 and others needing 9. 
  3. Go to bed at a specific time every night and stick with it, even on most weekend nights. It needs to give you 8-9 hours before you need to get up. 
  4. Get up at the same time each day – even on weekends! 
  5. Don’t make a habit of napping during the day. 
  6. Avoid caffeine after 4 pm. Avoid alcohol and do not eat a big evening meal within 3 hours of bedtime. 
  7. Quit smoking and avoid using sedatives – they do not promote natural sleep cycles. 
  8. Don’t have a TV in your bedroom. Don’t use a smartphone, laptop, or tablet in bed. 
  9. Do not use your bedroom for work.
  10. Manage stress and seek help if you suffer from anxiety or depression. 
  11. See your doctor if insomnia is an issue or if menopause symptoms are disrupting your sleep. 
  12. Implement good sleep hygiene. 
  13. Manage snoring and get a formal diagnosis if you have reason to believe you suffer from sleep apnoea.


Do You Snore?

If you snore, you almost certainly experience sleep disruptions. You are unlikely aware of the extent of this, but the issue remains and should be addressed for your well-being and safety.

Investing in ApneaRx is a great idea! ApneaRx is the NZ brand of a high-quality, medically designed anti-snoring device.  Worn in the mouth during sleep, it gently repositions the lower jaw and helps open the airways to prevent snoring. ApneaRx may be used with CPAP machines for people with obstructive sleep apnoea.

ApneaRx is recommended by doctors, sleep specialists, pharmacists, and dentists. It is successfully used globally by adults of all ages. 

Discover ApneaRx now and order today.