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  • Sleep Deprivation and what it means to your health and wellbeing

    7 min read

    Young women sleeping in bed of flowers and definitely does not have Sleep deprivation

    Your Ultimate Guide to Sleep Deprivation and what it means to your health and wellbeing

    "Although 8 to 9 hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle is considered the right amount of sleep for adults, studies have shown that interrupting a sleep pattern of 8 to 9 straight hours of sleep will harm your body and mind"

    what does sleep deprivation mean to your health and well being

    Sleep deprivation to most of us means not getting enough sleep, but there is way more to sleep deprivation than meets the weary eye. Although 8 to 9 hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle is considered the right amount of sleep for adults, studies have shown that interrupting a sleep pattern of 8 to 9 straight hours of sleep will harm your body and mind. If a clinical study was conducted to determine the reason(s) for the many errors in judgment we make daily, the more likely leading cause would relate to sleep deprivation.


    Sleep Deprivation: what to trust?


    The subject of sleep has been extensively studied and researched over decades; however, some aspects of sleep deprivation have not been clinically researched due to reluctance based on moral values. For example, a study on sleep-deprived parents who harshly discipline their children by spanking or using aggressive, demeaning, and threatening language will be difficult, if not impossible, to conduct. Are there any parents willing to partake in such a study? 

    Young child lying under an African mud cloth blanket


    Coffee may not always be the tight solution to get through the day as it can make sleep deprivation worse


    We generally don't give quality sleep the credit it deserves. When life turns upside down for us, the first thing we are willing to compromise is our sleep. We do this because we feel we can get back to normal when we have dealt with the crisis. This irrational approach to problem-solving has its fair share of consequences, and many of us only wise up to our foolish thinking when it's too late. By procrastinating, workloads become larger as deadlines loom closer. Not sticking to a study timetable is a prime example; cramming for exams is made possible by depriving yourself of sleep; yet, you are affecting your otherwise astute mental capacity. 

    Women lying on bed under Basotho Heritage Blanket drinking coffee

    We deprive ourselves of sleep for many different reasons, some beyond our control, as seen with new parents and family units where each family member has a different sleep pattern.

    Sleep studies and what they tell us about Sleep deprivation


    However, it's not all doom and gloom, but to better understand the importance of sleep, it is wise to look at what some sleep studies have revealed. Sleep studies are an ongoing and exciting field of research. The results of many of these studies will make you think twice about taking the easy route and compromising your sleep.


    What the Sleep studies say about your sleep deprivation


    A study on sleep habits and weight gain based on 68.183 women participants was presented by the American Thoracic Society in 2006. The participants reported their weight and sleep pattern every two years for 16 years.


    The study found that the women who slept less exhibited faster weight gain than women who slept more. Women who slept 5 hours or less were more likely to gain excessive weight, with about 15% becoming obese and prone to health risks like diabetes and hypertension.


    In this study, diet and exercise were ruled out as the cause of weight gain as women who slept less consumed fewer calories than women who slept more. The theory is that the weight gain was not due to eating more but rather caused by a reduction in calory burning due to fatigue.


    A similar study was conducted in Canada that focused on children between the ages 5 and 10. This study found that children who slept 8 to 10 hours a night were three times more likely to gain weight than children who slept 12 to 13 hours nightly. The study points to sleep deprivation causing an imbalance in weight-related hormones. 

    Women and child under a Basotho heritage blanket

    Weight gain and the resulting health risks are cause for concern, but other studies and findings by medical specialists paint a bleaker picture. Lack of sleep and sleep deprevation causes the below issues.

    • The decrease in collagen production accelerates aging; this causes a breakdown in skin elasticity.
    • Increase in high blood pressure in people with severe sleep deprivation.
    • It causes your metabolism to slow down and affects your hunger response, gravitating you to opt for foods rich in fat and sugar, resulting in fluctuations in blood sugar.
    • Lack of sleep results in blurred vision, dizziness, eye twitches, and increased pain sensations.
    • The immune system is suppressed.
    • This leads to the "zombie effect," a reduced ability to exercise facial expressions of joy. What becomes prominent are swollen and red eyes, hanging eyelids, dark under-eye circles, eye wrinkles, and the corners of your mouth drooping.
    • It reduced mental acuity.
    • Parenting while sleep-deprived and resorting to scolding and corporal punishment or spanking will inhibit the brain development of your child. On the contrary, positive parenting shows an increase in some regions of the brain.
    • Lack of sleep can lead to depression and anxiety, among other mental disorders.
    • Tolerance levels are negatively affected, and emotional breaking points become common.
    • Can increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 36% and heart disease by 48%.
    • It shortens your natural life expectancy.


    Sleep is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle


    The world is currently dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic that has a roll-on effect with new variants popping up one after the other. Being fully vaccinated and taking all the latest booster shots builds immunity, lessening the devastating respiratory complications that have been fatal to many. But, it is equally essential still to take care of your body's immune functions. Sleep is a vital part of maintaining a healthy and fast-reacting immune system.

    women and child on beach sitting on a basotho blanket eanna marena


    Sleep-deprived mothers.


    New mothers have a tough time getting the quality sleep they need, which can be incredibly taxing on working moms who don't have the luxury of sleeping when their baby sleeps. Daytime power naps fall away when you go back to work.


    Postpartum depression affects about 1 in 8 new moms, and sleep deprivation contributes to and exacerbates the condition. Postpartum depression has been classified as moderate to severe depression, often associated with insomnia, anxiety, diminished mental capacity, and fatigue.

    Women and child under a Basotho heritage blanket

    The importance of maternity leave; the longer, the better, may become apparent at this point. Having children changes your life forever, and from day one, you have no option but to make some profound lifestyle changes. A baby's sleep cycle differs significantly from a mom's embedded sleep cycle. Newborns sleep for most of the day, but it's in 3 to 4-hour sessions, and moms have to adjust to their baby's sleep pattern. Introducing a more regular sleep routine as your little one gets older is a significant milestone and accomplishment for both mom and dad.

    A sleep-deprived mother becomes a liability to her child, and her response to her lack of sleep may impede her child's development, both cognitively and physically. Mothers project their emotional and physical states onto their children, and a lack of sleep frequently leads to an irritable, intolerant mom. She may resort to spankings or speaking harshly to her children. Sleep deprivation makes for a bad parent. A medical doctor who studied sleep deprivationdefines the effect a sleep-deprived mom has on her children in a few words 👇

    "Sleep deprivation steals your patience towards your children. Without patience, apathy and anger easily replace love and gentleness."


    Things you can do to improve your quality of sleep.


    As mentioned, sleep deprivation is not all doom and gloom, but you should do everything in your power to stabilize your sleep pattern. Your health and wellbeing depend on it, and your children will prosper much better with stable well-rested parents.


    Before the birth of your baby, you must first set up a good sleep environment and plan the family sleep routine. Fathers must be involved and committed to sharing the burden of night-time baby care. Your newborn will be sharing your bedroom for at least the first year so that furniture placements will be somewhat permanent yet temporary.

    Young child and mother under a Basotho heritage blanket

    Seasons play a part in sleep deprivation


    You should also consider the weather and season in your region and keep an eye on humidity levels. This will guide you to purchasing the best type of bedding that could be seasonal or universally used throughout the whole year.

    Seasons play a part in sleep deprivation


    You should also consider the weather and season in your region and keep an eye on humidity levels. This will guide you to purchasing the best type of bedding that could be seasonal or universally used throughout the whole year.

    The right bedding is essential for a good night sleep😴

    The right bedding is essential in keeping you snug throughout your sleep, regulating your body temperature, which drops incrementally while you sleep. Changes in the temperature around you during sleep may result in you getting too cold or overheating, resulting in interruptions. Still, the right bedding will maintain a healthy sleep temperature.


    Sleep routines are especially important for young children


    Establish an early sleep routine for your little one and get your partner to help out with your baby on alternative nights. This way, your baby will begin relating to the sleep routine, and going to bed will become easier with time. Establishing a sleep routine teaches positive behavior that promotes compliance to boundaries in a gentle, loving way. 

    Don't be in a hurry to move your child to their room. You are essentially your child's security, and you should allow your little one to decide when they want to sleep in their own space. If not, you will wake up at night out of worry and when your little one wakes up and comes to your room at night. 

    Young child under Ndebele blanket in hammock

    A few last words on sleep deprivation

    Children have different sleep patterns from adults, and it can be challenging to get the whole family to abide by your sleep routine, so everyone gets a good night's rest. Sleep deprivation can be devastating if left unchecked, so if you are deprived of the necessary sleep night after night, it's best to muster help from your partner or family member.


    Your family's wellness depends greatly on sleep quality and not so much on quantity. Interrupted sleep limits your body's ability to restore and repair itself, and your immune system depends greatly on quality sleep to remain effective.


    If you notice changes in your behavior due to sleep deprivation, seek help as early as possible. Your child needs a loving parent more than anything, and you can only be that pillar of love and strength by ensuring that you are getting enough sleep consistently.

    "A peaceful night's sleep should be addressed holistically."

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