Sleep deprivation is not a disease. It is the result of other illnesses and life circumstances that can cause its own symptoms. Sleep deprivation means you’re not getting enough sleep. For most adults, the amount of sleep needed for best health is seven to eight hours each night.
When you get less sleep than 7-8 hours, it can eventually lead to a whole host of health problems. These can include forgetfulness, inattentiveness, being less able to fight off infections, and even mood swings and depression.
Sleep specialists say that one of the signs of sleep deprivation is feeling drowsy during the day. If you frequently fall asleep within five minutes of lying down, then you likely have severe sleep deprivation. People with sleep deprivation also experience “microsleeps,” which are brief periods of sleep during waking time. In many cases, sleep deprived people may not even be aware that they are experiencing these microsleeps.
In some instances, if a more serious and possibly life-threatening sleep disorder, such sleep apnea, is suspected, then the sleep specialist may conduct a test called a polysomnography, or a sleep study. This test actually monitors your breathing, heart rate, and other vital signs during an entire night of sleep. It gives the sleep specialist a lot of useful information to help diagnose and treat your underlying disorder.