For most people, acquiring a full night of sleep is a lofty goal. For a variety of reasons, many people are sleep deprived — meaning that they do not get enough sleep according to what their body needs. Over time, sleep deprivation leads to cognitive deficits and behavioral issues. People who chronically miss out on sleep are often in a zombie-like state. But don’t worry, the true zombie apocalypse is not here — yet.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
Based on recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep (per 24 hour period). Adolescents and younger children require more sleep than adults. Teenagers generally need around nine hours of sleep, while an average ten year-old needs about ten hours. At two years old, a toddler needs 12 hours of sleep. Infants typically require about 16 hours of sleep per 24 hours (because they have three jobs — eat, sleep, poop).
What Happens if I Miss Sleep?
Ever notice how a person who just started working the night shift seems a little distracted or spaced out? Curious as to how a new parent ends up with two different shoes on in public? Missing just one night of sleep increases problems with mood regulation, temperament, and activity level. As a person continues to lose sleep over multiple nights, they experience deficits in alertness, vigilance, and attention. In other words, a sleep-deprived person is less aware, has slower response times, and has more difficulty staying focused over long periods of time. Daily tasks become more difficult, including work completion, driving, and multi-tasking.
In addition to symptoms of inattention and excessive drowsiness, sleep deprivation causes increased levels of depression and irritability in many adults. Just like toddlers that throw tantrums when they skip a nap, adults become cranky when they are short on sleep. Individuals with chronic insomnia, for example, are at higher risk for developing an anxiety disorder. They may cry more easily, worry more often, or appear nervous without good reason.
What Causes Sleep Deprivation?
Several factors put adults at risk for sleep deprivation. Poor sleep hygiene, including failure to physically go to bed, contributes to the lack of sleep for many individuals. At times, personal obligations or work schedules often limit the time available for sleep. Additionally, some medical conditions prevent adequate sleep acquisition. But what about the inability to fall asleep (or stay asleep) under ideal conditions?
The term insomnia describes an individual who regularly has difficulty falling or staying asleep, resulting in sleep deprivation. Insomnia is sometimes the result of a significantly stressful experience which one endures for a long period of time, leading to long-term sleep difficulties. In other individuals, insomnia is secondary to another mental, physical, or neurological disorder. Such disorders include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the use of certain substances, such as stimulants, tobacco, or alcohol.
How Can Insomnia be Treated?
Treatment of insomnia begins with consultation of a medical professional. Find a doctor near you to determine the best treatment for your condition. Treatment options may include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy to address anxiety or other emotional concerns
- Relaxation techniques
- Medical intervention
Several medications treat insomnia, including Temazepam. According to research on patients with insomnia, Temazepam decreases the number of times a person wakes up during the night and increases “sleep efficiency”. In other words, people sleep longer and felt more rested upon waking up. Unlike similar benzodiazepines used to treat sleep problems, Temazepam produces significantly less impairment in the morning. In other words, Temazepam works better to address insomnia without a “medication hangover” the next day — people feel more rested and less zombie-like.
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