Causes of sleep deprivation Common causes of sleep deprivation include:
Personal choice – some people don’t realise that the body needs adequate sleep. Instead of regularly going to bed at a reasonable hour, they prefer to stay up late to socialise, watch television or read a good book.
Illness – illnesses such as colds and tonsillitis can cause snoring, gagging and frequent waking, and have a direct effect on sleep by fragmenting it.
Work – people who do shift work disrupt their sleep-wake cycles on a regular basis. Frequent travellers (for example, airline crew) also tend to have erratic sleeping patterns.
Sleep disorder – problems such as sleep apnoea, snoring and periodic limb movement disorder can disturb the person’s sleep many times during the night.
Medications – some drugs used to treat disorders such as epilepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can cause insomnia.
The sleeping environment – sleep may be disrupted for a range of environmental reasons; for example, because the bedroom is too hot or cold or because of noisy neighbours or a snoring bed partner.
Poor sleep hygiene – some people’s habits are disruptive; for example, drinking coffee or smoking cigarettes close to bedtime stimulates the nervous system and makes sleep less likely. Another common problem is lying in bed and worrying, rather than relaxing.
Babies, older babies and toddlers – parents almost always experience sleep deprivation because their young children wake frequently in the night for feeding or comfort.