Lack of sleep is something that those suffering from RLS can readily identify with. If you cannot fall asleep or stay asleep due to the unpleasant sensations in your legs, then you are going to suffer from sleep deprivation.
The military has long used sleep deprivation as a means of extracting information from enemy captives. It is successful because of the effect that a prolonged loss of sleep can have on a person’s physical and emotional well-being.
In similar fashion, RLS holds its victims hostage, preventing them from getting sufficient sleep. This can lead to physical and emotional damage. Following are some things you need to know about the effects of sleep deprivation.
Sleep Deprivation and Mental Alertness
A consistent lack of sleep can severely impair your mental capacity to recognize and react. Of course we would recognize the danger of falling asleep while driving, but what about the danger of driving while simply tired from lack of sleep?
According to some experts, driving while drowsy has the same effect as driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.05%. This may not get you a ticket, or cause you to lose your license, but it is definitely not the safest thing in the world — and represents real dangers to you and others around you.
Sleep Deprivation and Physical Dangers
Consistently getting less sleep than your body needs can have a real negative impact on your body. Numerous studies indicate that lack of sleep can be linked to ulcers, heart disease, depression and constipation.
Not only that, but a lack of sleep actually puts you in a pre-diabetic state. This condition causes you to feel hungry even after you have eaten. This can lead to obesity, among other things, which in turn affects your overall health.
Sleep Deprivation and Making Up For Lost Sleep
So can you simply sleep in a few extra hours on the weekend to make up for the sleep you are losing? The answer is no. Sleeping in can cause you to feel better temporarily, but the lost sleep cannot be reclaimed. It is also impossible to stockpile sleep for use later on. There is simply no substitute for a good night’s sleep.
Experts at the CDC recommend that for most teenagers and adults, a quality night’s sleep is between 6 to 9 hours. This is not time in bed, but time asleep. That is why those suffering from RLS need to find solutions for their symptoms as quickly as possible. The consistent loss of sleep from RLS is having a greater impact on your life than simply being tired: It represents real dangers to your health.
Just as you would not tolerate someone getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle impaired by alcohol, you should not get behind the wheel if you are impaired by lack of sleep. Whatever needs to happen in order for you to start getting adequate sleep, you must make the necessary adjustments. If RLS is adversely affecting your sleep quality, then it is time to find some alternative methods for dealing with the symptoms.