Sleep deprivation means long standing behavior of getting reduced amount of sleep each day due to societal, academic/ employment or other obligations. With modernization of society and technological advancements, that are now at our disposal at all times and keep us engaged, we are getting increasingly reduced amount of sleep each day. In addition, our academic, employment and social obligations also place us in unavoidable situations where we are predispose to have reduced amount of sleep. This trend has been noticed over the course of decades and centuries. Humans used to get significantly greater amount of sleep before electricity was discovered.
This chronic sleep loss accumulates over the course of time and have detrimental effect on our day time functioning as well as bodily functions. Almost all age groups of people are effected with sleep deprivation but some age groups are more susceptible than others, such as teens, toddlers, and infants. Similarly, adults with long working hours are venerable to sleep deprivation as well. There is significant research data available that describes poor judgement, delayed reaction time, and poor memory consolidation. In addition, there is accumulating data that suggest that sleep deprivation can result in several deranged body functions such as glucose control resulting in diabetes. Several of the world's catastrophic accidents are attributed to sleep deprivation including Exxon Valdez accident, Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the Challenger explosion. Many motor vehicle accidents for both adults and teens are due to sleep deprivation.
Teens & children are especially vulnerable to chronic sleep deprivation as their brain is still growing compared to adults. Sleep is crucial for this brain development. Aside from the social & societal obligations that predispose teens to sleep deprivation, there are several biological factors that also contribute to reduce amount of sleep. The teens internal clock that regulates sleep & wakefulness is such that it prevents them from falling asleep early in the night, in addition, it has been shown that teens are more sensitive to light in evening hours which promotes wakefulness. The resultant loss of sleep accumulates over the course of months to years and results in poor school performance and failures. They show difficulty in understanding, memorizing, and processing of new information which effect their ability to perform adequately. The cycle would continue with less ability to process educational material resulting in less sleep and more waking hours to finish educational work, causing reduced sleep and so forth.
At Sleep & Children Pulmonary Center, we focus on individual patient and make the diagnosis based on comprehensive history, physical examination, testing, and management plans that can help both children and adults get sufficient amount of sleep.