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How a Lack of Sleep Can Lead to a Premature Death

Both oversleeping and sleep deprivation correlate with a premature death, but oversleeping is typically due to potential health issues that the individual isn’t aware of and it doesn’t have much to do with actual sleep. A lack of sleep is more so related to an individual’s sleeping schedule as well as what they do during the day and before bedtime. In addition to an early death, sleep deprivation also causes other illnesses. Sleep is extremely essential in regards to living a quality life and it’s important to implement a normal sleep schedule so that you can think more clearly and quickly. Incorporating an activity-filled day and a relaxing nighttime routine before bed are both beneficial things to do as well; both of these things will help to improve your sleep schedule. So, what other issues can someone face due to not sleeping properly? Read on to learn more.

1. How is sleep deprivation linked to an early death?

Researchers conducted sixteen studies on more than 1 and a half million individuals. The studies indicated that “those who generally slept for less than six hours a night were 12% more likely to experience a premature death over a period of 25 years than those who consistently got six to eight hours' sleep.” Researchers proclaimed that the uncovered evidence was extremely damning and accurate.

However, keep in mind that it’s not just a premature death that can be caused by sleep deprivation--many other ailments and issues are caused by a lack of sleep. These include, but are not limited to: a variety of heart issues such as a heart attack, an irregular heartbeat and heart failure, as well as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

Additionally, the most commonly known sleep disorder, known as insomnia, is heavily correlated with depression. “90% of people with insomnia also have another health condition,” according to an article written by Camille Peri for WebMD. Furthermore, “In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without.” Experiencing insomnia and depression can be extremely difficult for the individual as both feed off of each other. Insomnia causes the individual to lose sleep, and a lack of sleep causes more depression, anxiety, paranoia, suicidal thoughts and even hallucinations. According to WebMD, “In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night.” 

2. In what other ways does sleep deprivation negatively affect your life?

The reason human beings are supposed to get a full night’s sleep (ideally 6-8 hours) is because sleep is the time for our bodies and minds to recover from the day and reset, so that we can function to the best of our abilities in our everyday lives. Healthline states that “During sleep, your body heals itself and restores its chemical balance. Your brain forges new connections and helps memory retention.” Losing sleep can impact relationships, your performance at school or work, and more. If you’re exhausted, you won’t perform as well as you would have if you’re energized and focused. “[A lack of sleep] impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving,” as sleep is necessary in order to effectively and clearly think and absorb information throughout the next day. 

Sleep deprivation plays a huge role in causing car accidents. According to this article from WebMD, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S.”

3. What can I do if I’m experiencing any of this?

If you can relate to this article in any way, don’t worry! There are options and treatments for each individual. If you’ve noticed that you aren’t getting enough sleep consistently, it doesn’t hurt to visit a trusted physician so that they can determine if you are suffering from a sleep disorder or something else. Once a diagnosis is decided upon through a sleep study, effective treatments can be discussed. The following are some of the most well known types of sleep disorders: sleep apnea, narcolepsy, seizures, movement disorders, and restless leg syndrome. Sleeping can help alleviate sleep deprivation, but it’s kind of hard to accomplish that when sleep is the problem!

I’m sure by now you’re wondering what actions can be taken (aside from going to the doctor’s office). On your own you can help improve your sleep schedule by participating in activities during the day (however, make sure to wind down and relax for about an hour before bedtime with a book, a bath, or some non-caffeinated tea...or all three!) Stay away from any forms of technology before bed and try to keep a consistent daily and nightly routine--that way your body can adjust and get accustomed to your new sleeping schedule and it will start to automatically shut down at a specific time every night.

Luckily you’ve done the hard work (the research) and now you are aware of what you can do for a better quality life. 

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