Sleep deprivation, or prolonged lack of sleep, is much more than a troublesome condition. Prolonged sleep deprivation has been shown to result in loss of cognitive ability, reduced ability to communicate, clumsiness and overwhelming fatigue. Ultimately, the human body must sleep in order to maintain good health. If sleep deprivation occurs over an extended period of time, significant health issues will arise and the body will eventually be unable to function properly.
In a significant number of cases, sleep deprivation should better be described as sleep degradation, or poor quality sleep. That is, the sufferer may sleep for extended periods of time, but the quality of the sleep is poor and so the full restorative effects and benefits are not experienced.
One of the most common reasons for sleep deprivation / sleep degradation is sleep disordered breathing. SDB conditions, ranging from snoring through to severe obstructive sleep apnoea, all have negative impacts on the quality of the SDB sufferer's sleep.
This is particularly true with people who have obstructive sleep apnoea. In these cases, the sleep deprivation / sleep degradation is as a consequence of the patient stopping breathing while asleep. In severe cases, these 'apnoeic events' occur more than 30 times per hour. At the end of each apnoeic event, the sufferer has a 'micro arousal', meaning their body wakes just enough to get them breathing again. Yet, because the awakening is a micro arousal, the sufferer has no conscious awareness of having woken.
As a result, many people who complain of sleep deprivation are actually getting enough sleep time -- but that time is constantly interrupted by the micro arousals. A person having 30 apnoeic events per hour would have 240 awakenings in the course of a typical 8 hour sleep period. In other words, instead of 8 hours of solid sleep, the perception of sleep deprivation is caused by the patient actually only having 240 short naps in an 8 hour period.
If you are experiencing symptoms of sleep deprivation, a diagnostic sleep study will determine the cause and nature of the condition which is causing the problem. Call 1300 246 637 to discuss your situation with a friendly treatment coordinator, or contact us via the form below for more information.