The Effects of Sleep Deprivation
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The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

The effects of sleep deprivation and the dangers of lack of sleep.

Sleep deprivation is a serious condition caused by an acute or chronic lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation has adverse health effects on the brain and cognitive function, as well as a correlation with several other health problems. Lack of sleep over long periods of time eventually leads to an increasing degradation of the brain's functions, and a general breakdown of the body's overall health.

Common effects of sleep deprivation include:

  1. Headaches: headaches are one of the most common and usually the first sign of sleep deprivation. Headaches caused by sleep deprivation usually subside once the sufferer sleeps, but continue to get worse the longer and more severe the sleep deprivation becomes.
  2. Obesity: Sleep deprivation has a negative effect on the body's hormone balance, and it has been observed that this hormone imbalance causes significant weight gain. The association between sleep deprivation and obesity is strongest in young and middle-age adults.
  3. Psychosis: While not true psychosis, sleep deprivation can lead to severe hallucinations, which are indistinguishable from reality for the person suffering the effects of sleep deprivation.
  4. Decrease Mental Ability: People suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation also suffer a wide variety of problems with their mental ability. Sleep deprivation can cause confusion, memory loss and a lack of focus in those who are suffering from its effects.
  5. Microsleeps: Excepting "fatal familial insomnia", it is impossible for human beings to go for extended periods of time completely without sleep, and for this reason it is impossible for humans to die due to sleep deprivation. Microsleeps occur when the brain automatically shuts down as an effect of sleep deprivation and can last anywhere up to a full minute. People who are suffering from microsleeps are not consciously aware that they are falling asleep, and in this way microsleeps are similar to blackouts.
  6. Diabetes: Sleep deprivation has been shown to have an association with type 2 diabetes, though this relation is not fully understood. Some scientists debate whether sleep deprivation can increase the risk of diabetes, or if diabetes contributes to lack of sleep.

Sleep deprivation is a dangerous condition to be in. While most of the above effects of sleep deprivation are only present in the most serious cases, the effects of sleep deprivation on concentration and memory are almost immediate. It can be difficult to combat the effects of sleep deprivation, and while stimulants such as caffeine can help in the short term, the body eventually builds up a tolerance after prolonged use, negating their effect in fighting sleep deprivation. The only way to rid yourself of the effects of sleep deprivation is to get a good night's sleep and to maintain a continuous routine which allows you a satisfactory amount of sleep every night.

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