Sleep, food and physical activity are the basic tenets of a good, healthy lifestyle. While much has been written about the importance of a nutritious diet and regular exercise, sleep doesn’t get similar attention. With poor sleep hygiene and unpredictable working-hours, sound sleep is slowly turning into a luxury. Does chronic sleep deprivation cause permanent problems? Does it have an effect on your personality?

The effect of sleep on behavior

A study released by Clemenson University in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience found a link between sleep habits and self-control. These behavioral changes include decreased impulse control and attention capacity, along with poor decision making. While numerous studies establish the relationship between sleep deprivation and physical health issues, this is one of the few that have focused on the psychological well-being of the individual. The research helps us understand the development of impulsive behavior like gambling, overspending or intoxication, in the context of disturbed sleep.

In the paper, the researchers have defined poor sleep habits to include decreased quantity, as well as irregular timings. Also included are poor sleep quality, difficulty falling asleep and being deprived of sleep, despite feeling the need to.

The physical problems caused by chronic sleep deprivation include daytime sleepiness, hypertension and weight gain, altogether affecting the quality of work and social life, apart from other health sequalae.

What should you do about sleep deprivation?

While work demands can be taxing, it is important to not let it take a toll on your health. Tips to help you maintain good sleep habits include:

  • Maintain regular timings, even if you require changing shifts frequently.
  • Sleep in a quiet, dark area without distractions.
  • Avoid the use of electronic gadgets right before you go to bed, or in bed.
  • Practice relaxing techniques, like meditation, or listening to soothing music before you go to sleep.
  • Regular exercise also helps one feel tired enough to fall asleep immediately after going to bed.

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