December 3, 2021

How Sleep Deprivation Can Affect Your Mental Health and Driving

By: Holly Klamer
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Medicially Reviewed By:
Dr. Priya Chaudhri
credentials here

Sleep Deprivation Can Affect Your Driving Record and Mental Health

Of all the basic activities that are required of people to maintain a healthy and well-rounded lifestyle, getting a sufficient amount of sleep each night is one of the most imperative ones.

Despite this universal knowledge of the importance of rest and recovery, most folks take it for granted. They deem sleep as something that is low on the totem pole of priorities and try to fit it in when they can rather than the other way around.

This lack of sleep can snowball, leading to dangerous consequences after a long period of deprivation. Just as skipping meals, keeping up with hygiene, and putting harsh substances in your body can be unsafe, being too tired to operate throughout the day is potentially catastrophic.

Falling asleep at the wheel would have to be considered the riskiest fallout of skipping out on a good night’s sleep. If you are lucky enough to survive the accident, the financial reverberations could put a major dent in your pocketbook.

This article will look at that terrible possibility, along with what is causing a lack of sleep in society, what would be described as good sleep, and some simple ways you can get more of it.

What constitutes a good night’s sleep?

This answer would be different for every person, but there are some pretty self-explanatory responses to the definition of a good night’s sleep. Most people believe it should be for eight hours, but a give and take of an hour or so either way is probably fine.

Sleeping in the same place and at the same time helps with your circadian rhythm. Find a comfortable place to rest, whether that be in your bedroom or another soothing location in the living space like a recliner designer for sleep.

Getting consistent sleep that is continuous is extremely valuable, and it’s important to make sure that these long periods of rest do not negatively affect your body the following morning. Getting lots of sleep in a compromising position for your back, neck, or sides is just as bad as not getting enough sleep.

What are the causes of sleep deprivation?

Modern society demands too much from its people. We are always plugged into something, whether it be our jobs, our families, or the shocking news that flashes up on Twitter when scrolling through our social media.

Because of how busy we are throughout the day, many people are forced to deprive themselves of sleep. They either don’t have the time to sleep due to work, or they choose to spend their scarce free hours getting some enjoyment at the risk of losing sleep. After all, it isn’t healthy to just work, eat, and sleep.

Mental health problems can also be a byproduct of sleep disturbances, such as sleeping not enough or sleeping too much. Sleep is tied to what’s going on inside our brains as much as it is to any other parts of our bodies.

Anxiety over what is happening in our personal lives messes up our resting habits, and then the resulting lack of sleep continues to pile on to our poor mental state; it is a difficult bidirectional relationship to escape from.

Tips for Getting Better Sleep

There are no set criteria for how each person should handle their sleeping schedule. Everyone’s life is different, so sleep patterns are individualistic and personal, just as someone’s diet or exercise program would be.

That doesn’t mean we can’t come up with some baseline suggestions that guide the general population when it comes to getting better sleep.

You don’t need an inordinate amount of sleep to fully recover from the day’s events. Listening to your own body and mind and using that as an indicator of what you need is the most appropriate solution to sleep deprivation.

It is vital that everyone get into a recurring sleep schedule, though — one that is uninterrupted no matter the number of hours that you get.

The body cycles through light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep throughout the night. When you are woken up consistently during this cycle, your body is unable to make a full recovery from the previous day and you are definitely going to feel more tired throughout the next one.

Whatever amount of hours you decide is right for you each night, stick to it and make sure that you carve out a repetitive and consistent timetable.

If you have problems with insomnia or difficulty settling down for the night, try to avoid bright lights and technology right before hitting the covers. Try to read a book, listen to calm music, or take a relaxing bath or shower before attempting to go to bed. High-strain activity will make it harder to sleep right before sleeping.

The Repercussions of Getting a Lack of Sleep

Not getting enough sleep can be devastating to your mood, your decision making, and your health. You are more likely to get sick or develop heart problems or obesity when you don’t get enough sleep.

Your memory is affected and you are much more likely to be irritable or unstable, leading to fractures in relationships, both professionally and personally. You won’t have fun with your friends, and your boss will be on you if you are unproductive in your occupational field or can’t perform up to your usual standards.

One of the poor decisions you could make is trying to drive while too tired, leading to car accidents that will result in reckless driving tickets, increased car insurance rates, and possibly fatalities to yourself and those you are affecting.

Fortunately, most states do not consider falling asleep at the wheel an offense punishable by jail time, and most insurance companies will still cover the costs of a sleep-deprived car accident. There are always outliers to every insurance procedure, though, so don’t view an accident as one-size-fits-all.

It is important to take responsibility for these errors in your sleep schedule before tragedies like this happen. Talk to a therapist about the hardships causing your sleep deprivation, and make sure you see a doctor if you think you are showing signs of a sleep disorder such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea.

Know that it is never too late to evaluate what is causing your sleeping problems and ask for help to find solutions before you are on the receiving end of severe consequences.

Our team of experts is here to help you.