We all know that sleep is a crucial aspect of our overall wellness. Yet somehow, it’s often the first thing we sacrifice. Whether we’re pulling all-nighters in desperate attempts to avoid WFH burnout, or becoming best friends with someone we just met in a nightclub toilet (now they’re back open), a good night’s sleep is rapidly falling from our list of priorities.
For many of us however, sleep deprivation, or insomnia, is a permanent fixture in our lives, whether or not we get to bed before 10pm.
It’s estimated that one third of adults in the UK have insomnia, which (according to Sleep.org) can be identified by these telltale signs:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Trouble staying asleep
- Poor sleep quality
Any of the above sound like you? Insomnia is considered ‘chronic’ when an individual experiences one or more of the above symptoms for at least three nights a week for three months or more. Here’s what’s *really* happening in your brain and body when you experience insomnia:
Here’s why you should *never* fall asleep in the sun
What are the symptoms of sleep-deprivation?
This is where Leah comes in. Leah is a CGI representation created by mattress specialists Otty of the human body that aims to highlight the potential consequences of not getting enough sleep. Here she is…
The symptoms of sleep deprivation after 24 hours, as kindly demonstrated by Leah, are:
- Drowsiness, you may find it difficult to stay alert and perform simple tasks without wanting to fall asleep.
- Reduced brain functioning, meaning you will really struggle to concentrate.
- Reduced sex drive, you may be too exhausted to get aroused.
- Puffy eyes, as a result of water imbalance.
- Tremors, without proper rest your neurological reflexes can be triggered, causing your muscles to twitch, shake or tremble.
- Irritability, you might find yourself negatively reacting to situations that you normally wouldn’t react to.
As Andrew Jacobs, Digital Marketing Manager at Otty, points out: “As you can see, within as little as 24 hours the body will start to shut down which can have detrimental effects on our well-being.”
How the hell do we sleep in this heat?! 6 genius tips to help you drift off (and keep your sanity) during this mega heatwave
What body systems are affected by insomnia?
Sleep and insomnia expert, Hussain Abdeh, Clinical Director and Superintendent Pharmacist at Medicine Direct, explained that 72 hours of poor sleep can “cause a lot of stress to the body.” In case you were wondering, this is how Leah looks after 72 hours of sleep-deprivation.
Hussain Abdeh identified the following bodily systems which are affected by insomnia:
- Complex hallucinations may arise after such a long time without sleeping. You may see things that are not there or have seriously impaired vision.
- Depersonalisation, where you feel detached from your own body with no control, can also occur.
- Muscle pain. You may experience a great deal of pain due to the body aching from tiredness. Muscle contractions may become worse, and your eyes will also ache from not being able to rest properly.
- Decreased functioning of immune system, which can put you at an increased risk of various health conditions, including strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, mental illnesses and type-2 diabetes.
- Paranoia and depression, due to an impaired sense of perception.
- Impaired vision, as your vision may become blurry.
- Paleness, as your blood vessels start to constrict to save energy.
Hussain Abdeh continued, “You are also likely to experience microsleep for longer and more frequent periods. It would not be unusual for you to collapse.”
Why we’re all stuck in an exhausting cycle of ‘chronic sleep deficit’ after lockdown, and how to fix it
If you’re struggling with insomnia, check out GLAMOUR’s guide to fixing your sleep pattern.
The NHS recommends booking an appointment with your GP if “changing your sleeping habits has not worked, you have had trouble sleeping for months, or your insomnia is affecting your daily life in a way that makes it hard for you to cope.”
15 best fans to cool your home down during the heatwave, ‘cos England isn’t cut out for these tropical temps