Who’s at risk of sleep deprivation?

In short, almost everyone is at risk of catching fewer zzz’s than they really need. Whether you’re a shift worker who sleeps at odd or varying hours, a new parent attending to a waking baby, or someone who is ill or stressed, you’re bound to experience periods when you log fewer hours of sleep than you need.

Children, and especially adolescents, who often keep late hours during the school week, are particularly vulnerable. According to research presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2019 national conference, fewer than half of all 6- to 17-year-olds are getting 9 hours of sleep on most nights.

Why do older adults sleep less?

Older adults need that same amount of slumber as other adults, but they have a tendency to sleep more lightly and for shorter time spans than younger adults.

They have less “deep slow-wave sleep”—the most restorative stage of sleep—“and their sleep is more fragmented, meaning that they are getting to awaken more frequently,” Kenneth P. Wright Jr., PhD, professor of integrative physiology and director of the Sleep and Chronobiology Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder, tells Health.

“And once they do awaken ,” adds Wright, “they tend to be awake for a extended period of your time than young adults.”

To put it simply, older adults’ sleep difficulties are often associated with the natural aging process, explains Wright. He says one more reason might be that a lot of sleep disorders increase with age.

What health risks are related to sleep deprivation?

Inadequate sleep negatively affects health during a number of the way , says the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Sleep deprivation can really do variety on your mood and performance. It can cause you to feel irritable, anxious, or depressed. It can make it difficult to consider everyday tasks. Lack of sleep can become a security hazard when it leads to drowsy driving and workplace injuries, says the sleep organization.

Digestive problems are quite common in individuals who have poor sleep quality and doubtless account for the foremost common reason why people miss work, Christopher Winter, MD, owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia and medical director of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center, tells Health.

“Cancer is another disorder that’s been linked to poor quality sleep,” notes Dr. Winter. “Individuals who work unusual schedules and have unpredictable sleep timing over time may show an increased risk surely sorts of cancers, particularly women and carcinoma .”

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