In a number of recent studies researchers found that around 25% of UK residents suffer from sleep deprivation either due to stress, overwork or a number of medical problems and lifestyle choices. But whatever the cause may be, sleep deprivation as well as other sleeping disorders are responsible for both minor and major psychological and physical problems.Why Sleep is ImportantStatically speaking we spend around a third of our lives sleeping. The human body needs sleep in order to replenish its energy reserves and recover from illness or physical activity, plus sleep also regulates a body's metabolism. However the need for the brain to sleep is still pretty much a mystery. According to some scientists even though our brains makes up just 2% of our body's mass it consumes more than 20% of its energy. Some studies show that the energy needs are further recharged when a person sleeps which also gives the brain a chance to do a few maintenance related tasks. But sleep deprivation disturbs this important process.Common Causes of Sleep DeprivationSleep disorders can be often caused by temporary conditions such as studying for an exam or adjusting to the timings of a new born baby, but the long term sleep deprivation is often due to some sort of sleeping disorder. Some of the most common causes of sleeping disorders include medical conditions, biological factors, even lifestyle. There are many commonly used drugs which can interrupt a person's sleep patterns. Biological factors may include gender, age as well as any underlying medical conditions like sleep apnoea and asthma. Lifestyle choices include drinking alcohol late night and drinking coffee also impacts sleep.Physiological EffectsThe visible effects as a result of a lack of sleep can vary from severe to minor. In some mild cases of sleep deprivation the symptoms may just be lots of yawning, headaches, aching muscles and bloodshot eyes. More severe cases of sleep deprivation will have some more obvious symptoms. These may include obvious peri-orbital puffiness, trembling of the hands, episodes of irritability, temper outbursts, delayed reaction time and blackouts.Mental Health and Social Side EffectsSleep disorders can have social and mental side effects which range from minor to downright life threatening. Common mental effects may include lapse of memory, confusion, dizziness, hallucinations, depression and disorientation. Some severe cases of sleep deprivation may also coincide with suicidal tendencies and thoughts. A lack of sleep can be the contributor to lots of quality of life issues ranging from kids disturbing their parents to inability to perform at work. Teens and young adults are susceptible to a lack of sleep impacting their long term mental work at school.Long Term Health RisksPeople who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation will later on develop some long term health risks. There are some risks which researchers have found which include higher incidences of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, in some severe cases psychosis may also take place. People who suffer from symptoms may not recognize or realize that their problem stems from a lack of good quality sleep.A Public Health ThreatA recent study into sleep by the Sleep Alliance has declared that 20% of road accidents are caused by drivers who are sleep deprived. A sleepy person driving is quite similar to someone who is intoxicated as their reaction times and decision making skills are the same. Another study in the UK showed that 43% of UK residents feel that their sleep deprived state has negatively impacted their work and especially their advancement, since they are too sleepy to pursue better business opportunities. This has resulted in the NHS getting more funding for sleep studies.The human body and the mind needs sleep in a sufficient quality. If someone is not sleep as they should the symptoms of sleep deprivation becomes evident. Some ways to alleviate sleep deprivation is to lose weight, reduce the intake of coffee, and nicotine, people should also get some moderate physical exercise. If the problem does not go away then a physician should be consulted.