Sleep deprivation – the devil in disguise.

In part four of this five part post series we look at the effects of sleep deprivation on the human condition.

In the last post, we explored the mind in an attempt to understand how insomnia directly affects the brain. Having this disorder for any amount of time will cause a massive negative impact on a person. Besides memory loss, insomnia also results in tiredness, carelessness, and lack of alertness the next day. The mind and body both need rest in order to function well. If there is no rest, then the grey matter, memory, and elaborate duties of the mind will crumble, and insomniacs will have a difficult time getting through the day. Their mind will wander, and they will struggle to stay focused throughout the day.

The 5 Things You Do Every Morning

Here’s a little exercise: Firstly, try to think about all the things you did from the moment you woke up today. Reflect on the first five things that you did. You might have turned off the alarm clock, checked the phone, stood up, switched on the lights, and walk to the bathroom. Even a few hours after awakening the ability to recall what you actually did in order can be difficult. That’s because, believe it or not, you subconsciously perform most of those activities without giving them too much thought, they are part of your daily routine.

However, when you have insomnia, you are not nearly as focused as you would normally be. The mind will continue to think as quickly as it normally would, but it does not have all the resources and energy to function properly. In order words, you may find it difficult to perform your first five activities in the morning, or struggle to complete each task.

An easy way to know this is when you realize that it took longer than it should when performing these tasks. The five actions that are perhaps normally only take a couple of minutes might end up taking more than 10 minutes when you didn’t have enough rest. You might even forget to do a task or two. You might forget to turn off the alarm, and you might forget to check your phone for any updates. Many different things can happen, but overall this is only the tip of the iceberg when you are struggling with insomnia. Now amplify that across the whole day and think of how many things may be neglected or missed.

Damaging Your Professional Life

After the first-night facing insomnia, you might notice a significant drop in your energy level. You might notice that it’s difficult to plan the day, or you might find it more challenging to remember all the information during the day.

In most cases, your daily routine may begin with waking up, getting ready for work, and getting to work. All jobs require 100% focus in order to ensure high performance and efficiency. Otherwise, you may face the music from your boss. No matter how exhausted you might feel, there are only a certain amount of days that you will be given sympathy. There are only so many sick leaves you can take in a year. So don’t let insomnia destroy your personal and professional life. Take charge and get rid of it once and for all.

In your job, you are expected to complete the tasks before a certain deadline. Whether you are in charge of packing boxes, doing research, or writing a blog – you have to be at the top of your game almost every day. You have to perform at your best all the time and earn your money.

Are You Experiencing Sleep deprivation?

Everyone has their own unique sleep pattern, and experts recommend that we should get 6-8 hours of sleep. The exact number depends on the individual. Some of us need more rest, some less. But at the end of the day, losing a couple of hours of sleep is always better than losing a whole night of rest. For instance, let’s say instead of getting eight hours of sleep, you only get six. Those two hours of sleep may seem crucial, but their loss will not do you as much damage as insomnia. Losing two hours of sleep may slow you down, but chances are, you will still able to pull it through and get all the tasks done by the end of the day. On the other hand, losing an entire night of sleep to insomnia is like having jet lag and can shut your brain down.

For instance, when your boss puts an agenda on your desk, you can read the content without a problem. But realizing what each item on the list means is the tricky part for those with insomnia. What seems to be a walk in the park may seem like mission impossible for insomniacs. You’d be constantly looking for the fastest way to get through the day rather than thinking about the best way to get through the day. In the beginning, it might seem manageable because you’re still able to get things done on time once in a while. But the truth is, it’ll hurt your reputation in your workplace in the long run because poor sleep equals poor performance! Insomniacs are also known to be more bad tempered and have a poorer working relationship with their colleagues.

Insomnia causes a slow down in your reactions. Accidents happen when you’re tired.

Eventually people will notice your inefficiency. Your boss will notice that you are working at a slower rate, that you are not focusing as much, and that you do not have the right mindset to complete the job. It can put you out of favour with your boss, and you might risk being fired. Although this may seem unlikely to you right now, you should keep in mind that the possibility is very high. Insomnia is a distressing factor to life that not only can cause someone trouble in the workplace but also in their personal life.

Damaging Your Personal Life

When you think about your personal life, think about all those things that are important to you, things that you hold dearly to your heart. You might think about your wife, husband, children, pets, or any other aspects. Some people might even think about their garden or their remodelling projects that they have been working on. The moment a person’s personal life starts to get off balance, it results in stressful moments, and they begin to question if there is any way to get back to the steady state. It doesn’t matter if the stress is coming from not having the groceries in time or waking up late, a minimal amount of stress can accumulate into something that is out of control. Insomnia causes a significant amount of stress and exhaustion. There won’t be any specific thoughts in mind; your mind will wander with random thoughts and without proper context. The same can also be applied to a work life. If you are suffering from insomnia and you need to prepare your kids for school, you might miss the lunch box, forget to iron their clothes, and the list goes on.

Always remember to put yourself first as “Self-Love is NOT Selfish”. When you constantly put yourself last, you’ll find yourself in a downward spiral of life, unable to fulfill your ultimate purpose in life.

The perception of putting yourself first was once considered arrogant, evil, and selfish, failing to understand that if you’re busy fulfilling the demands of others while not achieving your own work balance, you’ll feel unfulfilled.  Over time you begin to lose your drive, motivation, enthusiasm, and productivity will deplete. So stop only pleasing others and give yourself some priority as well. Only by doing so will you be able to develop the momentum to accomplish more, and have more to offer others in return. Another vital part of your personal life is your relationship with others. Whether it’s your partner, husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend, being in a relationship is a job on its own. If you fail to pay full attention to your partner because you didn’t have enough rest, then you can expect your relationship to sour. This situation will lead to arguments, dissatisfaction, frustration, loneliness, and sadness. All of these emotions can go so awry to the point where major confrontations might take place.

Dealing With Insomnia

It’s hard to deal with insomnia when you have no energy left inside you. You’ll feel tired all the time and care less about things that are happening around you. Your mind will wander, and often have thoughts that don’t seem to make any sense. Life is hard enough. Now, imagine adding in the fact that you are not getting any rest and have to deal with every obstacles life presents you. How would you feel? Overwhelmed? Stressed?

Many areas in your life can go south due to insomnia. With all these in mind, now is the time to protect yourself from losing sleep and get optimal rest every night. There are certain things we can do – ‘somnific actions’ we can take to help us reach a better night’s sleep.

But that’s for another day.

In our final part of this series we look at some of the cures we can implement that may help to reduce and even overcome insomnia.

What do you think?

Written by Scott Williams

Scott Williams is one of Australia's most respected corporate communicators.

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