Life keeps us pretty busy, sometimes a little too busy. We forget to eat, we forget to stop and appreciate certain moments and sometimes we forget to sleep.  The term “there just aren’t enough hours in the day” sometimes gets the best of us as we find ourselves pulling all-nighters to get things done.  Losing an hour of sleep here or there isn’t a huge deal, but over time these lost hours can build up.   If a lack of sleep becomes your state of normalcy sleep deprivation could be brewing.

After a few days of insufficient sleep, our thoughts can become hazy, a short temper can become the norm and, in extreme cases, we can experience hallucinations.

There are a million reasons why we can become sleep deprived, stretching the entire gamut of emotions.  Sleep deprivation can be caused by extreme happiness, extreme sadness, confusion, anxiety and even fear.

Running short on sleep can actually cause our stress threshold to lower.  This is kind of a double-edged sword because stress can cause sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation can cause stress.    If you’re experiencing poor memory, you may be sleep deprived.  Research actually indicates a direct relationship between sleep and memory, due to the fact that sleep facilitates connections between nerve cells.  The less sleep that occurs, the less connections form.

Other strong indicators of sleep deprivation are an inability to concentrate and an increase in appetite.  A lack of sleep can make it almost impossible for a person to control their food cravings.  The inability to concentrate actually makes this worse.

Someone experiencing sleep deprivation also tends to experience poor decision-making.  The brain is actually strained when it is deprived of sleep causing certain parts of the brain to strain even more to function.  Researchers partially believe that REM sleep helps our brain process information gained throughout the day.

If you believe you are sleep deprived, the best thing to do is seek help from a trained professional.  This does not necessarily mean medication either.  Counseling, deep breathing exercises and even cognitive therapy can help in these situations.