Think that sleep deprivation and insomnia aren’t a big deal? Extended lack of sleep has major health consequences and many negative impacts on the human body.
Although the area of sleep medicine is a newer field, there are a host of research paper topics to explore in terms of why we need sleep and what keeps us from getting the sleep we require.
The health consequences of no sleep
The adult human body needs seven to eight hours of sleep, each night, to stay in the best mental, physical and emotional shape. But statistics say about 30 percent of adults and 66 percent of adolescents suffer from sleep deprivation. What is this lack of sleep, sometimes caused by insomnia, doing to us?
Included among the negative impacts of too little sleep are slower reflexes, poor concentration and increased risk of car accidents in the short term; in the long term too little sleep results in diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and weight gain. In “Sleep Deprivation’s Negative Impacts On The Human Body; Animation Shows How Sleep Restores The Brain” for Medical Daily on November 18, 2015, Samantha Olson wrote, “researchers figured out the molecule adenosine, along with other waste products build up inside of the brain the longer we stay awake. If they aren’t cleared away by means of sleep, they’ll overload the brain. During sleep, certain brain cells cue the glymphatic system, which is designed to flush away the brain’s waste products with cerebral spinal fluid.”
Causes of sleep deprivation
Up to 15 percent of the U.S. population suffers from insomnia, one reason why so many of us are sleep deprived. But why? “A New Look at the Sleepless Brain” posted by Rachel E. Gross November 6, 2015, on Slate.com looked at the latest scientific studies on insomnia.
Gross wrote, “Studies have found that insomniacs have heightened levels of the stress hormone cortisol and higher overall brain metabolism, whether they were sleeping or awake.” Research paper topics to explore include the long-term health consequences of sleep deprivation and insomnia; whether there are root causes of insomnia that are treatable; or if there are links between other issues, such as mental health problems like depression and bipolar disorder, and a lack of regular sleep.
Not sleeping is the new normal
Even if you don’t suffer from insomnia, too many people experience self-inflicted sleep deprivation. We think it is a badge of honor to say we are getting by on four or five hours of sleep. But are we getting by or actually incurring major health consequences? In “Let’s Take Sleep Seriously” for the July/August 2015 issue of Policy Options, Timothy Caulfield discussed how to reverse this trend and take sleep more seriously.
“In our busy, work-obsessed society, sleep is seen as a luxury, something for those with a weak constitution and screwed-up priorities,” he wrote. “Sleep is a waste of time.” Research paper topics could delve into how society has come to view sleep as unnecessary or what cultural ideals make us think we should never rest. Other ideas to consider include the physical repercussions of sleep deprivation or ways to foster more interest in a good night’s sleep. And for those with insomnia or who have difficulty falling and staying asleep, what are the basic tenets of good sleep hygiene everyone should follow?
Do you suffer from sleep deprivation, and if so, is it because of insomnia or simply just not allotting enough time for sleep? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.