What is sleep deprivation?

Dear Dr. Manny,

I feel like I’ve been sleep deprived. I’m tired, I can’t get enough sleep, and I’m irritable. What can I do to fix my problem?

Sleep deprivation is what happens when you do not get enough sleep. In a sleep-deprived state, a person suffers from excessive sleepiness, fatigue, clumsiness, weight gain, or weight loss, and they cannot think clearly. Your brain’s cognitive powers go way down in a sleep-deprived state.

Some people with sleep deprivation are more alert, have more energy, and seem to be able to do more. But this is a small subset of people. For most people, sleep deprivation is bad. 

While studies have not been done on long-term sleep deprivation in human cases, in most cases, animals who have been deprived of sleep for a long time die. 

Sleep deprivation can help health conditions to take root in the body. People who don’t sleep regularly cannot process glucose properly. Typically, they are more prone to develop type 2 diabetes. 

Sleep deprivation can affect the memory and the ability to form sentences and coherent thoughts. It also affects your attention span. If you haven’t had enough sleep, it becomes difficult to focus. 

The longest a person has stayed awake was for eleven days. If you feel yourself approaching that number, consult with a doctor. You might have insomnia or sleep apnea that requires treatment. 

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