Lack of sleep can heavily affect the body and mind. If you have ever spent the night tossing and turning, or working late, you probably know the feeling the next day—tired, grumpy and stressed. Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation is a general term to describe a state caused by inadequate quantity or quality of sleep, including voluntary or involuntary sleeplessness and circadian rhythm sleep disorders. The right amount of sleep can vary from person to person, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. It also estimates that one in three adults does not get enough sleep. Racing thoughts can also keep you awake and cause insomnia. Photo/Net According to Medical News Today, occasional interruptions to sleep can be a nuisance, while an ongoing lack of quality sleep can affect a person’s performance at work or school, their ability to function day-to-day, their quality of life, and health. Felix Dushimimana, a counsellor pursuing psychology studies, says that a lot of things can cause lack of sleep, even the things people tend to disregard. “Overthinking is one thing that people don’t really understand can make them lose sleep because you spend a lot of time thinking, mostly about things you have no solution for, which will ruin your sleep pattern. Also it might be because the mind knows only one routine, like coming from work, eating and sleeping— eventually the mind gets tired of doing the same thing and it can affect the body because it needs change too,” he says. Celestine Karangwa, a physiotherapist at TCM Technology Clinic in Remera, says that using gadgets in bed or even keeping them close disrupts the sleep pattern. “A lot of people like keeping their phones with them in bed, or decide to watch a movie on their laptop, but what they don’t realise is that their body wants to rest and needs to, so they are forcing the body to stay awake and this will disrupt the sleep pattern,” she says. What are the effects? According to Medical News Today, sleep deprivation can affect various aspects of health, including: The immune system: Sleep deprivation may cause a person to be more prone to infections, which may take longer to resolve, and respiratory diseases. Weight: Sleep can affect the hormones that control feelings of hunger and fullness. It can also trigger the release of insulin. Changes to sleep can cause increased fat storage, changes in body weight, and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The cardiovascular system: Sleep helps the heart vessels heal and rebuild and affects processes that maintain blood pressure, sugar levels, and inflammation control. Hormone levels: Insufficient sleep can affect hormone production, including the production of growth hormones and testosterone. It also causes the body to release additional stress hormones, such as norepinephrine and cortisol. The brain: Sleep deprivation affects the prefrontal cortex, which handles reasoning, and the amygdala, which deals with emotion. There is also the inability to form new memories, which can affect learning. Fertility: Poor sleep may affect the production of hormones that boost fertility. Tips for better sleep Dushimimana says to first understand what makes you lose sleep, then seek help from a doctor. “Sometimes one routine can also be a factor causing you to lose sleep, your body needs change, try going to the gym or taking a walk— change the habits you were used to and let your body breathe a bit. By the time you go home, the body will feel like it needs that rest,” he says. He adds that this might not work for everybody which is why you need to visit a doctor to see if medical drugs or medicines are an alternative. Karangwa suggests the following things: • Keep a regular sleep-wake cycle • Exercise twice or more in the week, but not excessively • Keep a regular bedtime schedule.