“Can sleep deprivation kill you?”
I’ve spent more time Googling this question than I’d care to admit. Though I’ve learned throughout the years to cautiously validate any information provided by the internet regarding health problems, I frequently toss this desperate inquiry into cyberspace nonetheless.
Of course, I want the answer to be a resounding, “No!” But some part of me — the part that is increasingly broken by decades of insufficient slumber — wants there to be ample evidence of the detrimental impact that going without sleep can have on a person.
My terrifying suspicions about what sleep can do to unravel a human have been validated by medical professionals across the globe. Maintaining the most basic of functions is paramount to the kind of cellular restoration that only happens during deep sleep. Mental stability, mood, problem-solving, and other emotional well-being functions deteriorate as well. Don’t I know it.
While fascinating information, the importance of sleep for not only maintaining good health but also for recovering it strikes fear into my screaming cells. No wonder I am still so debilitated. The irony of these scientific journal articles is that they speak of the act of sleeping as though it were merely a choice. Upon reading these words time and time again, my sense of failure as a human intensifies. If only it were that simple, I would not be searching for information regarding insomnia in the first place.
Even when my brain can grasp onto a stream of energy to place together a coherent conversation, I’ve become hesitant to speak about my inability to sleep. As with so many other chronic health issues, everybody seems to have the answer. Though well-meaning, acquaintances and friends often minimize the complexities of prolonged deprivation with simplistic remedies. If I’ve learned anything over my many years of incessant health issues, it is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
The individuality of each person dictates specialized healing modalities. This I know for certain. However, I have yet to find the magical combination of substances, neurological repatterning, prayer, meditation, or who knows what else to cajole my body into rest. The more I don’t sleep, the more I can’t.
As the anticipation of another pained night dawns, my anxiety about being unable to sleep creates a strange kind of fear about sleeping. Sounds confusing, right? It is. The nebulous swirls in my brain seem to muddy the longer I go without the kind of sleep I need. I try to take some shred of comfort in knowing that my sleepless midnights are unlikely to actually kill me.
I just feel like they’re going to.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disorder. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.