Sleep Deprivation: What Inadequate Sleep Does to Our Body

By: Nicole Bieniasz

Are you sleeping eight hours every night? Consider yourself lucky! Our fast-paced environment has fooled us into believing we can successfully function with almost no sleep. What some people forget is that an adequate amount of sleep is necessary for maintaining positive mental and physical health because our bodies repair and restore themselves at that time. Interfering with this restoration by cutting back on sleep will eventually take a toll on an individual because the brain is not taking in new information or strengthening memories. Here are some examples of how shorter hours of sleep take a toll on our brains and affect functioning:

1. Slower Thought Process: Sleeping less than the 8 average hours necessary causes lower alertness and concentration, which impairs judgment. Making decisions and judging situations is very prominent and important in the workplace and at home.

2. Impaired Memory: When individuals do not allow their brains to restore during sleep, the nerve connections that are responsible for memories are not strengthened.

3. Difficulty Learning: Slower thought processing and difficulty learning restricts the individual from picking up any new information, which is essential for learning.

4. Problems with Mood: Lack of sleep not only hurts work performance and relationships, it is also capable of leading to problems with mood. Depression and anxiety are linked to poor sleeping habits.

To avoid these problems, here are some ways to get a good night sleep:

  • Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule
  • Avoid heavy meals before bed
  • Minimize caffeine intake especially 6 hours prior to sleep
  • Exercise
  • Minimize hot and cold temperatures, noise, and light when going to bed
  • Develop a regular bedtime

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have trouble sleeping, the licensed professionals at Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can assist you.  Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices of psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

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