A study published March 8, 2012, in Public Health journal found that sleep deprivation while still able to function as a sleep-rest.
“Research reports, like this one published by Dr. Kwon, suggest that one of the most successful interventions we’ve done to reduce sleep deficit is to reduce sleep deprivation during sleep,” said Kwon, head of the Sleep Disorders Research Center at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. “For example, when you wake up at 5:00, you’re waking up less and less tired — when it is harder to wake up at 5:00, you won’t get enough light. This is in part due to the stress and anxiety of being awake during wake-up hour, and also is due to reduced quality of sleep that we experience while sleeping.”
But some researchers argue that sleep problems are not a problem of sleep deprivation. Instead, they argue that insomnia is actually caused by sleep quality.
“Sleep problems are a very specific problem associated with insomnia,” said M.G. van Aijk (University of Copenhagen), author of “The Myth of Sleep Disorders.”
For some, insomnia can cause insomnia. For instance, in New York City, about 11 percent of all people with insomnia have at least a sleep problem. Sleep problems, by definition, are caused by a number of causes, including depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, and certain forms of anxiety.
Many sleep researchers also note that a lack of sleep can also have adverse effects on other mental health conditions. “Loss of adequate sleep may increase the risk of developing a substance abuse disorder during sleep and lead to a number of health issues,” said Dr. Baur.
But van Aijk cautioned that there’s no definitive proof to suggest that sleep problems are caused by sleep deprivation. He added that sleep deficit symptoms are very variable and people tend to have many of their sleep problems diagnosed at first glance, and he said that it is possible that some people may need to be “slept off” and stay up for longer to reduce the amount of sleep deprivation that has “floundered so far” in the past.
The results of the new study also could help policymakers and nurses understand how sleep problems are caused by excessive sleep, even while still maintaining adequate amounts of sleep. The most important role of sleep deprivation (even sleepiness) in preventing sleeping problems is to maintain good and healthy sleep patterns.