If you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, you’re not alone.
Your ability to stay awake and to be alert, or to sleep peacefully and restfully when we want to largely depends on our brain function. Recent studies have found that almost a third of Australians are suffering from some form of sleep deprivation or changes in natural sleep habits. Experts believe that sleeping too much or too little can have wide ranging implications on our health and well-being, and should be considered as important as a healthy diet and regular physical exercise.
A circadian rhythm is a natural, internal biological process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. Your circadian rhythm is regulated by your body’s internal master clock located in the brain. This master clock controls many biological functions over a 24 hour period, such as the release of hormones, body temperature changes, and sleep-wake cycles. You may notice how you tend to feel energised and drowsy around the same times every day – well this is your circadian rhythm at work.
The rates of sleeplessness have increased dramatically with more and more of us staying up at night using computers and mobile phones, leading to ongoing issues in our work and personal lives, as well as affecting our health. This knocks our circadian rhythm out of sync and difficulties in falling asleep, staying asleep and insomnia arise. This is extremely common and known to affect thousands of Australians.
Signs and symptoms
- Difficulty in sleeping or sticking to regular sleeping habits
- Not feeling refreshed when waking from sleep
- Having difficulty concentrating or focusing on a task for any length of time
- Irritability or excessive anxiety
- Experiencing accidents at work or at home because of sleepiness or loss of concentration
- Moodiness or depression
- Low immune system leading to the development of coughs, colds and flus
- Weight gain
- Low sex drive
It is also believed that sleep problems experienced over a long period of time can lead to a higher risk of developing illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease.