Sleep deprivation and vertigo: Here's how lack of sleep can impact balance | Health - Hindustan Times

Sleep deprivation and vertigo: Here's how lack of sleep can impact balance

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Dec 10, 2023 11:41 AM IST

How are sleep and vertigo connected? Health expert answers

According to reports, vertigo is quite common, with 1 in 10 people across the world experiencing it in their lifetime and in terms of symptoms, vertigo is a disorienting sensation of spinning or dizziness. It can be caused by various factors, including inner ear problems, infections or even stress.

Sleep deprivation and vertigo: Here's how lack of sleep can impact balance (Image by Benoît DE HAAS from Pixabay)
Sleep deprivation and vertigo: Here's how lack of sleep can impact balance (Image by Benoît DE HAAS from Pixabay)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, ENT surgeon Dr Vikas Agrawal, revealed, “When sleep is disrupted or inadequate, the body’s ability to repair and regenerate itself may be compromised. This may lead to vertigo. How are sleep and vertigo connected? Let us direct our attention to the vestibular system (an apparatus of the inner ear) which is responsible for balance and spatial orientation and understand the connection.”

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He elaborated -

1. Vestibular System and Sleep: The vestibular system is a complex network of structures within the inner ear that plays a crucial role in maintaining balance and equilibrium. It includes semicircular canals filled with fluid and tiny hair cells that detect movement. Proper functioning of the vestibular system is essential for our ability to stand, walk and maintain stable posture. Sleep is vital for the maintenance and repair of these delicate structures. In a recent study titled "Sleep Disturbances and Vertigo: A Bidirectional Relationship," which was published in the Journal of Vestibular Research, it was found that patients with co-morbid cardiometabolic diseases who have poor sleep have worse vertigo outcomes. It further suggests a bidirectional relationship between sleep disturbances and vertigo.

2. Sleep and Vestibular System Maintenance: During deep sleep stages, the body undergoes essential repair and regeneration processes. This includes the maintenance of the vestibular system. The fluid in the semicircular canals needs to remain at the right consistency, and the hair cells must be in good condition to detect movement accurately. Inadequate sleep can disrupt these processes, potentially leading to vestibular system dysfunction and an increased risk of vertigo.

3. Sleep-Related Disorders: Certain sleep-related disorders can directly contribute to vertigo. For example, sleep apnea, a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep, can lead to reduced oxygen levels and changes in blood flow to the inner ear, which may trigger vertigo or worsen existing vertigo symptoms.

4. Stress and Sleep: Stress is a common trigger for vertigo, and it can also disrupt sleep patterns. Chronic stress can lead to increased muscle tension and anxiety, which may contribute to vestibular issues and vertigo. Quality sleep helps regulate stress hormones and reduces the overall stress burden on the body.

5. Medications: Some medications prescribed for vertigo or related conditions may affect sleep patterns as a side effect. For example, certain drugs used to manage vertigo symptoms may cause drowsiness or insomnia, which can impact sleep quality.

Dr Vikas Agrawal concluded, “Good sleep supports the maintenance of a healthy vestibular system, reduces stress, and enhances overall well-being. By prioritizing sleep and adopting healthy sleep habits, individuals can take proactive steps to minimize the risk of experiencing vertigo.”

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