Four Plus Four Equals...Tired!

Sleep Deprivation May be Hiding in Plain Sight!

Have a toddler? Ask anyone you know who does or has had and they'll tell you that exhaustion doesn't always look how you'd expect. Obviously, sleepy little ones yawn and get cranky when they're tired like the rest of us, but let them get even a little more sleep deprived and they enter a state much feared by parents - overtiredness.

Often diagnosed as the ubiquitous “ADHD” when overtired, little kids will run around with manic energy, bouncing off the walls, and denying vehemently that they're tired. (Usually, to the point of a massive tantrum making it all too apparent they're actually exhausted to the point of near psychosis.) Kids sometimes even struggle to fall asleep when you finally wrestle them into bed because they're so amped up at that stage.

Turns out, many adults are actually similar. Sure, if you're up too late the night before, you'll feel all the classic signs of being under-rested (heavy eyes, yawning, etc.), but if sleep deprivation is cumulative, resulting from weeks or months of sound, restful sleep, your body will try to compensate.

In some cases, you'll begin to show signs that your sleep deprivation has entered a critical phase. If you see them, it's time to seriously consider revamping your sleep schedule.

1. YOU HAVE A PERPETUAL CASE OF THE MUNCHIES AND YOUR "GIRLY-FIGURE" IS BEGINNING TO SHOW IT!

If you can't keep your hands off the carbs and candy, it's time to have long think about whether you're really getting adequate shut-eye. Apparently, being inadequately rested can cause your body to produce more ghrelin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry and crave fatty and sugary foods in particular, and less leptin, the chemical that signals when you're full. If the brain doesn't get the energy it needs from sleep it will often try to get it from food.

2. YOU GET A JOLT OF ENERGY LATE IN THE EVENING

If it's approaching bedtime and you feel like you're flying, it's reasonable to think that your sleep deficit can't be that bad. But, that's exactly the wrong conclusion to draw from your night-time second wind. Your body is keeping you up for that last stretch of the evening so it can get you back into a rhythm. What frequently occurs is that after you’ve been running on empty you promise yourself you'll go to bed early. 'Early' rolls around and you feel fine, so you keep getting things done...but then end up with only 4 hours of sleep (again).

3. YOU'RE BEGINNING TO FEEL A LITTLE...BIPOLAR

The sun seems so bright and cheerful, the coffee tastes soooooo good and that cat going nuts with the empty cereal box is just hilarious. Is this a sign you're wildly happy with your life? Perhaps, but it could also be a signal that you've become too tired to control your emotions. The same could be said of feeling particularly dejected for no apparent reason. Ever find yourself tearing up over an embarrassing TV commercial? Sleep-deprived brains Are 60 percent more reactive to negative and disturbing images.

4. HAVE YOU SUDDENLY BECOME A KLUTZ?

Beyond just your emotions, when you're sleep deprived, it's your body too. We don't know exactly why, but sleepy people seem to have slower and less precise motor skills. In fact, miss enough sleep and you could end up effectively as uncoordinated as a drunk person. Going even for one night without sleep results in being about as impaired on early morning hand-eye coordination as someone who has a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent.

5. YOUR SKIN IS BECOMING AFFECTED.

If you haven't had a break out this bad since you were a teenager, it's time to seriously consider whether your sleep schedule might be to blame. Your skin can also register your exhaustion simply by looking older. Poor sleep habits can begin making skin less firm and hydrated - in a word…older. Cortisol spikes in people who are stressed and sleep deprived can break down skin collagen, which stops it from being its usual smooth self.

6. LIBIDO...

Sleep deprivation can take a severe toll on your sex drive, and not just because, at some point, the only thing you want to do in your bed is sleep. For men, sleep deprivation can lower levels of testosterone, which also lowers their interest in being intimate with their partner.

7. WORK AND CREATIVE SUFFERS

Creativity demands a lot of cognitive resources and when you're sleep deprived you simply don't have that much mental horsepower to spare. You might start resorting to tired cliches and regurgitated presentations to keep up your end of conversations and responsibilities.

8. TROUBLE SHAKING A COLD

If you keep coming down with the sniffles - or can't seem to kick that never-ending cold - you may want to assess your sleep schedule. People who sleep fewer than seven hours each night have almost three times the risk of catching a cold than people who slept for at least eight.

While sleeping, your immune system produces proteins knowns as cytokine, that help protect against infections and inflammation. A few nights of poor sleep could lower your body's defenses against pesky viruses.

Do any of these worrying signs apply to your patients? #weshouldtalk