The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Written by: Farzana Jaffer Jeraj

In our busy, busy worlds, the majority of us find ourselves experiencing prolonged periods of stress. When we do get a deep sleep, it often is not accompanied by a feeling of being rested and refreshed in the morning.

Many things contributing to poor sleep can eventually turn into insomnia. Among them are overwhelming problems, late nights, poor habits around sleep (for myself: Netflix, Facebook, Scrabble, emails etc.). Grief or trauma that causes shock can also contribute to sleep deprivation as can being in chronic pain. There are obviously a thousand more things that can contribute to stress and poor sleep, but what ends up happening is that the barriers of our mind tasked with helping us to think clearly and to process emotions begin to break down under this strain and we become extremely vulnerable to negative stimuli.

The side effects of prolonged sleep deprivation such as insomnia, prolonged stress, and grief can have horrible effects. They include and are not limited to being lethargic, depressed, easily agitated, skittish, jumpy, hypersensitive, over analytical, unable to focus, low in self-esteem and self-confidence. The list of side effects is much longer, with low self-esteem and self-confidence being among the most detrimental and long-lasting!

The truth is, our bodies were designed and evolved to handle only so much stress and within a certain period of time.

In our hunter-gatherer days, we dealt with stressors that affected our imminent safety. These primal stressors could be dealt with quite differently. Our body's nervous system kicked into fight or flight mode and adrenaline and cortisol among other hormones were released into our bloodstream enhancing the awareness of our physical surroundings. It was necessary for us to focus on the negatively-oriented stimuli in the environment around us, as it was solely the awareness of those stimuli that allowed us to avoid imminent danger in order to keep alive.

The return was obvious;


Even more obvious;


The results were immediate so if we were to survive, the levels of chemicals surging through our bodies would switch back to normal levels.

Stress in today’s day and age is very different. Unless you work in the jungle or at a zoo, there's no sabre tooth tiger waiting to kill you plus the sabre tooth variey is also extinct.

Nowadays,our stressors today are likely to be fiscal, social and emotional. The majority of us do not have a cathartic physical mode to relieve our stress. Today's dangers come from dealing with finances, not foraging or hunting for food. Our predators are usually of a socio-emotional breed. Our current day threats occur in our psyche. Everything exists in our minds, so we must rely on our psychological tools to deal with our thoughts.

A prolonged lack of sleep and periods of intense stress are commonplace for most of us. Because psychological stress manifests in one's head, since it can be difficult the stress goes wherever you go. Ones's survival mechanism to focus on the negativeis still present. As a result, though the philosophy is to also still present, so although the philosophy is to – plan for the worst and hope for the best - most people get caught up in the planning and lose sight of the hoping. The principle is an adaptive one and a smart one, but can backfire!

Adrenaline. Most of us know about, or at least have heard of adrenaline. Our bodies produce it to deal with initial threats. It provides increased energy and a raises our heart rate, which then enables us to handle our initial stress. Another stress hormone is cortisol. Cortisol is viewed as the primary hormone concerning stress. It assists us in functioning through prolonged periods of stress. It assists in repairing damage to the body, ups blood-sugar for continued energy, and helps the brain use sugars more efficiently for continued functioning. Cortisol even acts to send the body’s resources to only the most needed functions and away from non-essential systems.

Eventually, the adrenal system runs out of gas. There is a biological limit as to how much cortisol the adrenal glands can produce before their supplies are depleted. There are certain supplements as well as steroids that can be taken to support the adrenal system in the production of cortisol. These methods though, are intended as a temporary measure to rebalance the body until one can resume sleeping, relaxing and finding better methods for dealing with one's stress.

Although you may have heard of the miraculous benefits of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, how a single hour of hypnosis can be the equivalent of approximately three hours of sleep; hypnotherapy cannot replace an entire night's rest or provide someone the full benefit of a complete sleep cycle.

There is no replacement for a full night of sleep.

During a night's rest, a part of one's mind uses dreams to sort and vent out information that is not need and to keep the stuff that's useful. This is called critical consciousness. When one goes without sleep for an extended period of time, he tends to lose the benefit of this ngihtly venting process. Thus, the mind becomes overstimulated in its waking states to the point where it becomes too difficult to stay alert and maintain focus.

It is during this stage that we enter into a state of hypersuggestibility. In this state, we are very easily influenced and extremely sensitive to external stimuli. One's primal mind thinks he is in survival mode. Some of us get jumpy at this point; but since physical threats are minimal, most of us become especially sensitive to suggestions of an emotional or personal nature.

Unfortunately, in the fight or flight mode, there is a tendency to notice the negative stimuli. As a result. the long term effects of remaining in this state can negatively affect one’s self-esteem and self-confidence. This can then lead to an increase and worsening of negative emotional states, such as depression. Why do people have a tendency to be sensitive to negative stimuli? The state of hypersuggestibility is a weakened state of mind and is not the same as the trance state of hypnosis induced by a hypnotherapist. Hypnosis, in a hypnotherapy treatment, rests and strengthens the mind so that it is more resistant to negative stimuli. In the hypnotic state the mind is given room to sort things out and to declutter.

So, if a person is in a state of hypersuggestible hypnosis, how can hypnotherapy help him get out of this state of constant, waking hypnosis? As previously mentioned, the purpose of hypnotherapy in this case would be to dehypnotize him. To make absolutely certain that the affected person can be hypnotied to accept positive and resourceful sggestions and stimuli, he must only be hypnotized at a time of his own choosing and ideally, over three consecutive sessions. This dehypnosis gives back to the client, the control of belief! The client would also be instructed on self-hypnosis to give him another tool with which to empower him in his progress.