Many people complain of being "tired" from time to time. Unfortunately, some people may succumb to chronic sleep deprivation, which can have more serious consequences than occasional fatigue. Lack of rest may impact mood, relationships, and work performance, and is related to serious health problems. Being overly tired decreases alertness, and may increase one's chances of getting into an accident at work or in the car. Now the good news: It is often possible for these problems to be completely resolved by following common-sense rules, having good "sleep hygiene", or through diagnosis and treatment of underlying medical conditions.
While most people are aware when they are not getting enough rest, sometimes the signs of sleep deprivation are insidious.
Symptoms may include:
Severe fatigue -- experiencing frequent yawning, preoccupation with getting enough rest, nodding off at inappropriate times
Confusion -- feeling foggy; having decreased comprehension at work, school, or even in basic conversation; having trouble remembering things
Moodiness -- experiencing irritability, anger, sadness, or generalized turmoil in interpersonal relationships; frequent crying; feeling apathetic or "blank"
Decreased Alertness -- experiencing delayed reaction and response times, feeling too tired to safely function in the car or on the job
Physical symptoms -- appetite changes, changes in appearance, frequent aches and pains, increased susceptibility to illness
One simple step to help improve the symptoms of fatigue, is to go to bed at the same time every night. Regimenting bedtime may be deceptively difficult to accomplish, but it may also make a huge difference in one's quality of life. Other tips one may find helpful are to avoid reading, using the computer, or watching T.V. in bed, to have a small snack before retiring, and to avoid napping.
Sometimes, medical conditions can cause sleep deprivation. A general practitioner or specialist can diagnose and treat these conditions. Medical diagnoses associated with sleep deprivation include several different types of insomnia. Sometimes, people are instead diagnosed with sleep apnea, a condition that causes pauses in breathing. Nighttime apnea is often caused by an airway that is blocked while an individual rests. Special medical devices called CPAP masks can help many apnea sufferers to keep their airways open, and to avoid pauses in breathing. Many people are not aware that they have this disorder, and are greatly relieved when treatment significantly reduces their exhaustion.
Symptoms of sleep loss are distressing, but need not be permanent. Sometimes, simply adhering to basic sleep tips are enough to improve fatigue. Whatever the cause, there are a variety of solutions to finally getting a good night's rest.