Problems Arise from a Luck of Sleep

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In a 1959-60 survey from the American Cancer Society, two percent of adults slept six or less hours of sleep on a normal night. Fast forward to 2004, the same survey researched by the National Health Interview showed that the number grew to 30%. An average adult needs from six to nine hours, depending on the individual, of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation has become more common in the U.S. for adolescents and adults. Sleep deprivation happens when someone chronically gets inadequate sleep for their body to operate optimally. Extreme sleep deprivation causes problems concerning memory, weight management, and the return to better health requires intense sleep recovery.

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When sleeping, the brain stores away information into the long- or short-term memory. When the brain receives less sleep, this is on the first tasks to go. In fact, “When a person is suffering from a lack of sleep, they may tend to lose the ability to filter information: therefore, storing more irrelevant information into their working memory”. This causes less room for the more important/ essential information. Since sleep is a basic need that the body must meet, it will take precedence over other functions. When the brain is occupied with receiving rest, it will not spend as much effort to remember simple tasks. On days after nights with extreme sleep deprivation, forgetting simple things like the location of a parked car, what was eaten for breakfast or other short-term memories is more common. The lack of sleep affects both short- and long-term memory in a negative way.

Issues maintaining a healthy weight is another issue to add the pile of negative repercussions of sleep deprivation. When a short night tires the body, it is looks to find rest- a basic need. It tells the body to avoid unnecessary movement so it can preserve its energy. It is common knowledge that when trying to stay physically fit and maintain a healthy weight, staying active is important. When sleep deprived, physical activities become much more difficult. A lack of sleep also affects the body’s regulation and perception of hunger, as a doctor stated, “sleep duration affects hormones regulating hunger — ghrelin and leptin”. Ghrelin, which causes an increase in hunger, is higher when sleep deprived. Likewise, leptin, which causes a decrease in hunger, is lower when sleep deprived. It cannot be argued that weight management is an issue that the U.S. is currently facing. It is no coincidence that the nation is simultaneously struggling with sleep deprivation and weight management; the issues are related.

To come out of a sleep deprived state, recovery sleep is crucial. Just as it affects hunger hormones, it also creates an imbalance of other essentials of the brain. Recovery sleep occurs for several nights after having been sleep deprived. After these nights, the body can return to sleeping in a normal fashion and following a regular sleep cycle/pattern. The article explains some of the physical goings on of the recovery sleep, “The ensuing sleep then actively restores brain physiology to normal levels. This also results in restored alertness, memory capacity, and mood. Also, peripheral anabolic processes (secretion of growth hormone and testosterone) are strongly enhanced and catabolic process (secretion of cortisol and catecholamines) are strongly suppressed.” If the body does not receive recovery sleep, it will continue to be deficient in the areas listed. Recovery sleep is the body’s way of playing catch-up from all of the harmful effects it as experienced. Recovery sleep can never recover all the physical issues lost with the sleep, but it is the body’s only way to attempt to reinstate homeostasis.

In a perfect world, everyone would get the amount of sleep their body thrives on every night. In current society, this is not the case. People in the U.S. are now receiving less sleep than ever. This sleep deprivation can cause issues relating to memory and weight loss, and it requires an recovery sleep in order to return to a healthy state. Sleep is very important to the success and well-being of an individuals, and through the individuals, the world. 

29 April 2022

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