You know that sleep is fundamentally important to your health, but your baby never got the memo. Parenting is the anti-sleep aid; when you consider that motherhood is equivalent to working two and a half jobs, it's no wonder you may well be severely sleep deprived.
If you're experiencing any or all of these 7 symptoms of severe sleep deprivation, it's time to take steps to find ways to get more rest:
Mood swings and irritability
Dealing with everyday problems and challenges is sometimes difficult when you are deprived of sleep. You can become so irritable that even the simplest tasks or inconveniences make you lose your mind. Mood swings from a reasonably good mood to anger, sadness, anxiety, and frustration are commonplace for tired parents and left unchecked, may eventually settle into a pervasive depressive state. These first symptoms should be taken seriously, because the stress itself eventually may increase your sleep disorder, creating a vicious cycle that may be hard to break.
When you're sleep deprived, your ability to pay attention to details diminishes. Reaction time becomes longer, increasing the risk of accidents. Severe sleep deprivation has been the primary cause of the human error factor in famous disasters including Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, and even the sinking of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez.
Numerous studies have shown that sleep contributes to the consolidation of memories. During sleep, the information you learn during the day is consolidated in order to be available for the long term. When you're experiencing severe sleep deprivation, you may find that you have problems remembering even simple things, like what you had for breakfast, up to more crucial things, like if you gave your baby antibiotic for her earache.
Sleep deprivation can disrupt decision making, which can have dramatic consequences. When you are experiencing severe sleep deprivation, your reasoning abilities tend to decrease, even making you more likely to be aggressive, impulsive and irrational.
Did you know that lack of sleep itself stimulates the feeling of hunger? When you're tired, your stomach increases its production of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite. At the same time, your fat cells secrete less leptin, which is the hormone that makes you feel satiated. Chronic sleep deprivation disrupts the regulation of these hormones and promotes weight gain. Studies show that sleep deprivation doubles the risk of obesity.
Impaired motor function
Lack of sleep can disrupt your motor skills because it is difficult to maintain a good level of dexterity without proper rest. When you are severely sleep deprived, your reflexes are diminished, affecting the speed and precision with which you act and react. Speech problems may also occur, making communication difficult.
Vision problems due to a lack of sleep increase the chances of all sorts of mishaps, such as falls, car accidents or accidents at work. Depending on the sleep debt, your visual focus may also be impaired. Peripheral image detection can become increasingly difficult. Sleep deprived people have also reported experiencing visual distortions or in some extreme cases, even hallucinations.
Severe sleep deprivation is a serious health issue. Not only does it cause problems in the short term, but its effects can also extend to the long term. Indeed, sleep deprivation can also increase the chance of cardiovascular disease, strokes, and mental health-related problems.
So take a step today toward taking your sleep more seriously. Your severe sleep deprivation is your whole family's problem, so ask for help with the kids and get the rest you need – and deserve!