Empty bed

Causes of sleep deprivation

Do you find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep? If so, you might suffer from sleep deprivation. Don’t take this problem lightly. It can have serious effects on your health. Be proactive. Follow the advice below to identify the cause of your sleep deprivation and also determine possible cures.

People of different ages will require different amounts of sleep. Children and teenagers will need a minimum of 8 hours each night while young to middle-aged adults need 5 to 8 hours. This numbers are important to keep in mind when considering whether you really have sleep deprivation or if you are just setting your alarm far too early. Sometimes the solution is as simple as admitting that you need to go to bed earlier or wake up later. However, if you are putting forth the effort to get the minimum sleep hours required for your age group and still feel groggy during the daytime hours or toss and turn throughout the night, you have a serious sleep deprivation problem.

Empty bed
image credit: sergeant killjoy

Sleep Deprivation in Adults

If you consume caffeine during the day, cut down on your intake and stop consuming it after lunch. Do not consume any foods or liquids (except water) within 4 hours of sleeping. The presence of undigested foods and liquids in the stomach will prevent you from attaining deep, REM sleep.

Try exercising, even if it’s merely a daily walk around the block. This exertion will cause your body to feel fatigue and you’ll get more restful sleep. If you are over-stressed, it might be impacting your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Try to soothe your nerves by way of massage therapy, a warm bath or a swim spa. If you are still stressed out after trying to proactively combat the problem, see a therapist.

Certain medications including pain relievers, cold medications, thyroid hormone and diuretics can also impact sleep. Don’t immediately cut these out if you are experiencing sleep deprivation. Consult with your Doctor to decide if you should abstain from medication use. Spend some time researching natural, holistic treatments that could potentially replace your chemical laden medications.

Sleep Deprivation in Children

If your child can’t sleep, the causes may be quite different. Never let him watch television or use electronic devices with screens within an hour or two of bedtime. Screens stimulate the brain long after we turn them off. Take the television out of your child’s room and limit his use of the computer and video games in the PM hours. Also, don’t feed him a desert full of chocolate. Chocolate contains caffeine which can over-stimulate a child, even in small doses.

Any child or adult with sleep deprivation should keep a sleep diary. When your child can’t sleep or if wakes up feeling fatigued, ask him to write down what he did and ate during the prior day. This way you’ll be able to link activities and possibly food consumption to his sleep deprivation.

image credit: bengrey

Don’t be afraid to ask you child what his thoughts are like when he’s lying in bed. If he admits to thinking about heavy subjects like problems at school, disagreements between his parents or something else that is dark and depressing, tell him that he has to alter his thinking patterns. Tell him that nobody can get a good night’s sleep if they are contemplating such issues in bed. Always make sure that his blinds are completely closed so that no sunlight can creep in. If you think he might be disturbed by household sounds, buy him a sound machine to drown out the noise or run a fan in his room. Always make sure that the bedroom is on the cool side rather than the warm side. It is much easier for both children and adults to get a good night’s sleep when tucked beneath the warmth of the covers rather than lying on top of them.


Both you and your child should stick to a regular sleep schedule. This way you’ll be able to operate according to your biological clock by sleeping when it’s dark and performing activities while the sun is out. So, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. Pretty soon, you’ll have trained your body to know exactly when it is supposed to rest and when it will be called upon to be active.

Try to avoid napping. This is a hard rule to enforce for children that have a nap time in preschool or kindergarten. If you child has serious sleep deprivation, tell him to not participate in his class’s nap time. If he insists on napping, tell him to set his watch alarm for a maximum of thirty minutes. Never nap in the late afternoon hours or later as it is a recipe for sleep deprivation.