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Sleep deprivation in conjunction with National Bed Month – March 2013

Sleep deprivation isn’t just about getting enough sleep; it can cause a multitude of physiological effects as well.

My daughter is disabled and a few years ago she was diagnosed with nocturnal epilepsy. Prior to the diagnosis and medication being prescribed, her tonic clonic seizures would occur every night and in most cases between the hours of one and four in the morning. Due to the severity of the epileptic seizures my husband’s sleep along with mine would be disturbed for the duration of the event, sometimes lasting over an hour.

Now you may think an hour wouldn’t cause too much of a disturbance, however when you are in the deep sleep stage of your sleep pattern, being woken and having to get out of bed causes havoc with your wellbeing.

Whilst it’s easy to view the loss of sleep as no big deal to start with, over time the lost hours build up and form a sleep debt. After several nights of disturbed sleep I found myself becoming muddled over every day activities and getting upset over trivial matters.

Woman trying to sleep

For a period of nearly two weeks my partner and I experienced sleep deprivation and some of the symptoms associated with it:

Confusion / Memory loss: I found myself forgetting the simplest of tasks, getting to the top of the stairs and forgetting why I went up them. I used to forget people’s names and where I had parked the car and became confused over the day of the week.

Mood swings / Irritability: It didn’t take much to set me off, situations that I would find normally manageable suddenly seemed much more irritating.

Depression: I felt burnt out, unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel

Headaches: A constant tension was felt in my head and neck; my eyes were hot, dry and tired and my vision was impaired at times.

Luckily for us this period of our lives was short lived and we returned to a normal sleeping pattern quite quickly. I generally sleep for about 7 hours a night not always restful, however I ensure my bed is comfortable, supportive and my bedroom cool, calm and inviting.

Sleeping in at weekends used to be a guilty pleasure, however I have come to realise that more sleep is not always good for you and in fact, it can have the opposite effect by disrupting your body’s internal clock and making us feel more tired.

A good night’s sleep is crucial to our health and wellbeing the same as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. I for one will not take a night’s sleep for granted but I shall endeavour to make sure it is as restful as it can be for all of us.

Holidays are also a good time to catch up with lost sleep and recharge your batteries. I always find warm sun and fresh sea air always helps me in having a good night’s sleep. So why not book a short break away and for peace of mind let Free Spirit Travel Insurance cover your medical conditions.