The effects on sleep deprivation and how to overcome it
You might have heard that sleep deprivation affects your reaction time, but what does that mean?
How is reaction time and sleep deprivation related?
Reaction time is defined as the amount of time it takes to respond to a stimulus, which can be any event that comes before a response. The human brain is immensely complex, and the typical time it takes for a physical response to a stimulus is around 160 to 190 milliseconds — or a little less than 0.2 seconds1. That’s around the same time it takes to blink.
While this may seem like a small amount of time, it adds up quickly when you consider how many times you react every day. When you add up all of these reactions over days, weeks, and years of life, these milliseconds add up to hours of lost productivity and even more missed opportunities.
Many of us are sleep deprived without even knowing it. Sleep deprivation can lead to mood changes, getting sick more often, and making bad decisions.
Sleep Deprivation effects
Sleep deprivation is caused by inadequate or poor sleep quality and can have big consequences on how we show up every day. Although there are multiple causes of sleep deprivation, not having the right pillow could worsen your sleep quality.
While our physical reactions can happen in a blink of an eye, behind the scenes our brain is working through a series of processes. For example, before responding to a baseball being thrown by a pitcher, a catcher’s brain must recognize the ball, decide to respond, and then send a message down the spinal cord to their hands and fingers.
This process takes time, so even though it may seem like our bodies are moving faster than ever before, there’s no denying that our brains are slower than they used to be. This is especially true for older people who have had time for their brains to deteriorate due to age-related changes and other factors.
Your reaction time can vary based on a variety of factors. Some factors are outside of our control — such as age, left or right-handedness, and whether the stimulus is visual or auditory. Other factors that affect reaction times are within our control, like our level of physical fitness, the presence of distractions, and how much fatigue we’re experiencing.
The amount of sleep you get also has an impact on your reaction time — so if you’re going through a period of fatigue or sleep deprivation, you may find yourself having slower reaction times than usual.
Does sleep deprivation affects reaction time?
Getting enough sleep is essential for both physical and mental health. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, being underslept is fairly common and data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests almost one-third of Americans get less than six hours of sleep each night.
As a person accumulates sleep debt, their reaction times increase. This means that the more sleep a person loses, the longer it takes for them to react to a stimulus. In one study, research subjects were allowed to sleep for five hours per night for a week. Over the course of the week, participants’ reaction times steadily increased as they accumulated sleep debt and felt increasingly sleepy.
There are several hypotheses that attempt to explain the reason for increased reaction times after sleep deprivation. One hypothesis asserts that sleep loss increases reaction time due to the body’s simultaneous and competing needs. When we’re underslept, our body is experiencing a need for sleep, a need to stay awake, and a need to perform tasks. These competing drives interfere with our attention from moment to moment, leading to cognitive impairment and an increased reaction time.
The other hypothesis states that the way in which we process information changes after sleep deprivation. After a good night’s rest, our brains are able to analyze information quickly and efficiently—but after a period of sleep deprivation, this ability is disrupted or impaired.
Another theory suggests that sleep deprivation affects our ability to focus on certain stimuli while ignoring others: when we're tired, we may find it difficult to stay focused on one task while disregarding other distractions in our environment (such as incoming texts or emails).
The impacts of increased reaction time
Reaction time is the time it takes a person to react to a stimulus.
It's important in a multitude of professions and activities, including athletics, shift work, medical professions, students, pilots, and anyone else whose work requires sustained attention and quick reflexes.
Reaction times can be increased by sleep deprivation. This can affect the performance of athletes and the safety and productivity of shift workers. It can also lead to dangerous practices like lane drifting when a person gets behind the wheel of a car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be due to drowsy drivers.
Improving your sleep
So how do you get there? Here are our top tips for improving your sleep:
Get outside and be active
It's no secret that exercise helps you sleep better. But did you know that being outside is just as important? Exposure to sunlight helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which means it can help regulate your body's internal clock and make it easier for you to fall asleep at night. Be sure to get some fresh air at least once a day—even if it's just for a few minutes!
Be consistent in your bedtime
The more consistent your sleep schedule is, the more regularity there will be in your body's internal clock. So try setting a consistent bedtime every night (and go to bed at the same time on weekends), and stick with it! You'll start feeling better faster than you think.
Improve your sleep environment
In order to get good sleep, sometimes all it takes is to make sure that your bedroom is as cosy and comfortable as possible! This includes choosing soft sheets, keeping things quiet during, dim lights and playing soft white noise would help your mind and body to be at rest.
Understand the role of diet
Your diet can have a big effect on how you sleep. If you're eating too much, your body will be more likely to produce cortisol, which can cause heartburn and other digestive issues that can wake you up in the middle of the night. Also, if you're not getting enough protein, this can lead to low energy levels and difficulty falling asleep.
Use the right pillow
Custom made pillows are important for a good sleep because they are designed to support your head and neck while providing comfort and support. You should try pillows that are measured and fitted just for your body structure so that you do not have to go on a pillow hunt.
That is why we have designed the Mpillow to help your patients get a better night's sleep so they can feel refreshed every day.
Our custom made pillows are designed for comfort and a unique ergonomic design to support your head, neck and shoulders, each Mpillow is handmade to fit you perfectly.
If you wish to understand more about how our technology can help your patients, book a meeting with us at mpillow.com