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Among people experiencing sleep deprivation, sleep apnea is normal. Similarly, if a person snores during sleep, this is a sign that after partial closing of the throat, they experience impaired breathing (Carroll, et. al., 2015). It is important to remember that these people are likely to experience more issues as they age as muscle tension declines over time. Obesity and aging, in particular, could lead to the complete closing of the throat, making a person experience a short-lived suffocation that takes nearly a minute. The person is then aroused by taking a deep breath, after which they return to normal sleep. Therefore, the occurrence of such multiple cycles during sleep contributes to sleep deprivation. One may fail to understand what exactly they are suffering. Thus, there is a high tendency that these individuals will adapt to sleepiness and in most instances, face chronic fatigue.
Nightly Sleep Cycle
The study of Electroencephalographs (EEGs) has made it possible to examine the different stages of sleep. For this matter, a healthy person's EEG would have a low voltage when it comes to the vertical deviations owing to their calm wakefulness commonly known as alpha waves. In particular, the initial stages of sleep (stage 1) has slowed down waves, and the frequency increases as the person's sleep progress. Subsequently, after approximately 10 minutes, one falls into deep sleep characterized by high voltage waves but at a low frequency. Upon reaching the one-hour mark of sleep, a person develops an EEG cycle that resembles their waking-state EEG. At this point, the eyes engage in movements beneath the eyelids. Therefore, this phenomenon is referred to as the Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM).
Dreaming and the Sleep Cycle
Despite dreams having different interpretations, they have contributed immensely in the manner in which people make crucial decisions. Therefore, dreams are a way through which forbidden and repressed feelings reveal themselves. Moreover, a proper interpretation of one's dream might offer guidance on the possible ways to provide psychotherapy (Carroll, et. al., 2015). Despite many criticisms of dream theories brought forward, there is still a connection between insights borrowed from dreams and the physiological nature of the mind. On the other hand, sleep walking is not possible during REM sleep since the muscles are weak at such a time.
Sleep and Sleepiness
The brain is energetic when there is the release of Adenosine Triphosphate. However, in the absence of phosphate, one tends to feel tired and sleepy (McEwen, & Karatsoreos, 2015). Stimulants like caffeine deter the adenosine effect on the brain making people active when they ought to be sleeping. Important to note, sleepiness comes later, and its impact is similar to that of thirst and hunger. Hence, there is a close relationship between the last time one ate, and the amount of thirst or hunger they experience when feeling sleepy. A person has the ability to tolerate sleepiness, but the demands of deprivation escalate with time leading to the lack of concentration and discomfort. On the other hand, missing significant amounts of sleep in one night and losing small amounts of sleep over many days tend to generate an almost equal amount of sleepiness. However, the productivity of a person may remain the same despite there being sleep deprivation (McEwen, & Karatsoreos, 2015). The assumption made by many is that they have attained a new level of normalcy with regard to sleep, but over longer periods, the effects might be fatal.
Impact on Mental Health
Sleep facilitates the elimination of waste substances accumulating in the gaps between brain cells. A common waste material is amyloid-beta which upon accumulation leads to Alzheimer’s disease. Similarly, adults who have a sleep lasting below 5 hours tend to have inflammation effects arising from high insulin resistance and results in circadian disruption. Research conducted by Almklov et. al. (2015) encouraging adults to engage in a routine of a minimal of 7 hours sleep revealed that their insulin sensitivity increased after 40 days. Sleep deprivation also results in depression as almost 65 percent of patients show signs of a sleep problem. Important to note is that depression conversely leads to insomnia, but a fifth of depressed patients suffer from sleep apnea.
Bipolar disorder is another impact of sleep deprivation on mental health. Approximately 69 percent of patients diagnosed with this disorder have shown less need for sleep in the instances they experience a bipolar episode (Almklov, et. al., 2015). However, other reports indicate that there are special cases where the patients prefer sleeping excessively over being an insomniac. Similarly, having an inadequate sleep is one of the triggers of mania as it causes a relapse and shifting moods. Lastly, sleep deprivation can lead to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) among children following their restless slumber, difficulty in sleeping, and have short sleep times. There is a close connection between ADHD and periodic limb movement disorder during sleep which makes children hyperactive, emotionally unstable, or inattentive. Important to note is that mental health problems, their impact, and prevalence vary by the psychiatric diagnosis conducted.
Almklov, E. L., Drummond, S. P., Orff, H., & Alhassoon, O. M. (2015). The effects of sleep deprivation on brain functioning in older adults. Behavioral sleep medicine, 13(4), 324-345.
Carroll, J. E., Carrillo, C., Olmstead, R., Witarama, T., Breen, E. C., Yokomizo, M., & Irwin, M. R. (2015). Sleep deprivation and divergent toll-like receptor-4 activation of cellular inflammation in aging. Sleep, 38(2), 205-211.
McEwen, B. S., & Karatsoreos, I. N. (2015). Sleep deprivation and circadian disruption: stress, allostasis, and allostatic load. Sleep medicine clinics, 10(1), 1-10.
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