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How long does it take the body to "recover" from sleep deprivation?

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jmr106 +0 points · about 6 years ago Original Poster

I'm a 35 year old male. Never have had any weight issues, 5'8 and I'm about 160 pounds now, but for most of my teenage and 20-something years I was about 140. I got into weight lifting in my teenager years and I have always been very active. However, something was "different" with me. All the way back to high school and possibly elementary school, I was always extremely sleepy in class. I couldn't focus and "get" things like my classmates. I had a lot of struggles with energy and cognitive function. To this day, I still feel exhausted even after sleeping 8-10 hours.

So back in January, I developed moderate tremors and an anxiety/not enough oxygen feeling in my chest that stuck around for days. It was like I couldn't breathe enough. Left work early, went to a clinic and they did blood work. When they took half of a vial of blood, I passed out for about 15 minutes. Blood pressure shot down to 60/60 and heart rate to about 50bpm. I woke up shaking all over and with all of the staff around me. They tried to convince me that it was anxiety/mental issues. I went to my GP doctor. They did blood work on another day and I didn't have any issue and they took a large vial. I think it was from pure exhaustion that I passed out. I eventually saw a neurologist for the tremors and all was fine. I had an MRI brain scan. All was fine.

I asked my GP doctor for a referral to a sleep study. I only slept 2.75 hours for the whole night. My AHI was 4.7, just below the 5.0 required to sleep apnea diagnosis, but basically as bad as it could get without getting diagnosed. Their pillows were uncomfortable and their bed covers were so rough. Plus I was in a new place. Of the time that I slept, I had 13 hypopneas and 50 "breathing events". Then I went to an ENT a few times after that. I had a CT scan and I felt quite ill just a couple of minutes after the scan. When I took the disc to my ENT doc, she said, "Why did they take so many images?!?" They took 903 images of my sinuses. Nasal sprays haven't worked. The turbinates in my nose are swollen and I have a deviated septum spurring to the right. I have turbinate reduction surgery/septoplasty coming up on July 16th. I average 5-6 hours of sleep most nights. Sometimes I feel "pops" in my nose every time I inhale or exhale when I'm laying on my back, side and sometimes stomach. I have awaken at night when it literally felt like both nasal passages just shut closed and I jerked awake.

So now my questions are:

1) If this fixes everything (my ENT doc seems to feel that it will), how long will it take my body to "recover" from sleep deprivation? My understand is that sleep cannot be caught up. Obviously, from the surgery and on forward for the rest of my life, I will try to get proper sleep of 8-10 hours per night. I may be literally 20-25 years behind on proper sleep. Some days I feel flutters/palpitations in my chest. I also walk 6+ miles per day at work and may go down 100-200 steps per day. I'm planning on finding another job that isn't as taxing on my body after I heal up from surgery. On virtually any given day, I feel a "pressure" feeling in my hands/face like my blood pressure is high in those areas. However, when I check my blood pressure, it is usually right around 120/80 or sometimes low like 106/75. Yet my face will also look really red like I'm tired and people will comment that I'm walking around looking like I'm a zombie. There are days when I have trouble answering the phone and saying my name properly because I'm so tired and it feels like some words are slurred/slow. I just want to lie down in the floor and take a nap at work some days.

2) Will I "gain" any cognitive abilities when I get proper sleep? I have coworkers and clients at work that joke, "If you can do all of this with that little bit of sleep, think of what your brain can do when you get proper sleep!" Is there any literal truth to this? For instance, I played guitar on and off for about 17 years. I sold it last year because I didn't have the energy to play it and I couldn't remember much and had trouble focusing. My coordination just wasn't there. When I answer the phone at work, some days I literally say my very simple and short name incorrectly if I'm low on sleep. Yet I can do things like type 100wpm seemingly with no issue. Will I gain cognitive abilities back when I start getting proper sleep? Driving has always scared me to death. I don't have my license at 35. Why? I feel like I'm going to have a wreck because I'm so exhausted/not focused that I'm not paying attention to everything like I should. My family has kind of bashed on my for years about why I don't have my license. I don't think I'd pass the test and I'm a danger on the road because of my sleep deprivation. I don't feel that I'm focused enough mentally to keep the car in the lane properly. I tried to drive a mile up the road to the store about 5-6 months ago and literally almost hit a mailbox turning onto the main road off from our street. Obviously, when I get more sleep, I would expect this to improve so that I can focus better. Just wondering if I may gain any cognitive abilities that I may not have realized that I have given the lack of sleep for apparently half or more of my life.

3) How do I deal with this when it hits me that I've missed out on so much in life? I have a pretty good amount of work experience in various fields, but usually people my age are in some type of management at 35, are married and/or have kids, etc. I know that I'll feel better after the surgery, but I'm also going to have the "take on the world" mindset of freedom, no doubt. I expect that I may also feel a little depressed about why all of this wasn't figured out earlier in life.

4) I have external tibial torsion (twisted tibia bones) in both legs, but only slightly in the right leg and it isn't noticeable. The left leg is the worst and is considerably noticeable to where clients stare at it at work as I'm walking. I find that on rare days when I sleep well, my walking actually "improves" for some reason on that leg. I speculate that maybe when the muscles in my leg are properly rested that they are better able to counteract the condition with the leg and work around it to help me walk properly. I also speculate that since this is a developmental issue, I'm wondering if it isn't related to lack of sleep in my younger years when my legs were still developing.

Just wondering if anyone out there has any comments regarding any of this stuff.

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SleepDent +0 points · about 6 years ago Sleep Commentator

I am a dentist working in dental sleep medicine. I will address questions number one and two: 1. As to how long it will take for your body to overcome the sleep deprivation. It depends. Everyone is different. On average, after all your problems are resolved, you might feel A LITTLE BIT better after two weeks. You might feel better still after a month and pretty good after two months. On the other hand, you could continue to feel rotten for one, two, three, four, five, even six months as your body repairs. You never know. Just hang in there. 2. Being only 35, I would expect your cognitive function to improve. I doubt if you are irreversible at this point. Again, the time from will vary from person to person. Arthur B. Luisi, Jr., D.M.D. The Naples Center for Dental Sleep Medicine. Practice partner, dental sleep medicine, NCH Healthcare System. Practice partner, dental sleep medicine, The Millenium Physician Group.

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