Woman sleeping

Risks Associated With Sleep Deprivation

If you are, or were, an avid watcher of the sitcom Seinfeld, you may recall an episode in which Jerry is tortured by the neon light from a chicken restaurant which shines into his apartment and disturbs his sleep. You may recall him sliding into his own apartment after a night spent at Kramer’s and announcing,”I’m on no sleep! No sleep!” He then proceeds to go into a mini-tirade about how everything is “creaking and cracking in there” and the red light is, “burning his brain.” He finishes when Elaine comments that he seems stressed by replying, “Oh, I’m stressed.”

We hear you, Jerry, sleep deprivation is no fun for any of us, and it can be dangerous and affect your mood, judgment, and health. If you’re pushing it to the limit when it comes to catching zz’s, here are risks that you may be exposing yourself to.

Short Term Affects Of Sleep Deprivation

  • Poor performance and decreased alertness. Every little bit matters, Studies show that reducing sleep by as little as 90 minutes per night can cause a loss of alertness of up to 32 percent.
  • Memory and cognitive impairment. Feeling out of it? Lack of sleep can lower the ability to process information and to think.
  • Relationship stress. One partner’s sleep problems often become the other partner’s sleep problems. Sleep disruption can lead to fights, irritability, and sometimes, separate bedrooms.
  • Lower quality of life. If you have trouble staying alert, you may find it difficult to enjoy movies, sports games and watching tv.
  • Job related injury. Sleepiness can double your risk of injuring yourself on the job, sometimes leading to more long-term consequences.
  • Injury while driving. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, driving while drowsy has been the cause for at least 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities per year.

Long Term Effects
The short-term effects of sleeplessness can usually be reversed after treatment, however, there are some longer lasting effects which may be more difficult to deal with. These include psychiatric problems, stroke, obesity, ADD, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and obesity. Studies show the risk of mortality is higher for those who sleep less than 6-7 hours per night with one study finding that insomnia is a greater health risk than smoking. Lack of sleep is also an accurate predictor of institutionalization during old age, and triples the rate of mortality in elderly men.

Sleep Disorders
It is worthwhile to note that much of sleep deprivation is due to sleep disorders. According to the American Sleep Disorders Association, there are over 85 sleep disorder which affect more than 70 million of Americans with only 10% of them recognized by primary care physicians. Chronic snoring can often be a sign of sleep apnea, as well as heart and brain related diseases. Patients with sleep apnea have a 15 time greater risk of automobile accidents than those without the condition and have been known to be on a par with drunk drivers in terms of driving ability.

If you feel you suffer from a lack of sleep, we especially value your comments. Increased awareness is crucial to avoiding unnecessary suffering. If you feel you may have a sleep disorder, we urge you to contact a physician. Know that there is a wide range of treatments available.

Woman sleeping

Maintaining A Healthy Sleep Routine

If you’re not overly motivated, a good night’s sleep may be your greatest accomplishment. After all, it is no small feat. From the various available products to the barrage of commercials and helpful apps and websites devoted to the subject, it is obvious that not everyone is capable of peaceful somnolence. So, if you’re one of the lucky ones who has just engaged in 8 or 9 hours of uninterrupted rest, pat yourself on the back! You are quite the achiever!

What You Accomplish During Sleep
The list of things your body does during sleep is quite lovely. During Stages 3 and 4 of sleep, our muscles relax and our blood pressure drops. There is an increase of blood supply to the muscles, repair, and growth of tissue takes place, the body experiences a restoration of energy, and the growth hormone is released. Sleep gives our brains and bodies energy and helps us to perform our daily activities. Plus, you have some really cool dreams!

Sleep Hygiene And Becoming A Successful Sleeper
Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe your habits associated with sleep. To maintain good sleep hygiene, you should:

  1. Keep your sleep schedule consistent. Try to set your body clock to waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day, even on your days off.
  2. Establish a bedtime ritual that helps you relax. Avoid bright lights excitement, sound, and stress. Reading can be incredibly sleep-inducing.
  3. If you are among the sleep deprived, try and curb your desire to nap. It may help get through the day, but it is equally as likely to make you less sleepy at night.
  4. Exercise every day, but not when you should be sleeping. Exercising lowers blood pressure and stress and makes sleep easier.
  5. Keep your sleeping environment comfortable, The optimum temperature for a good sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees. Make sure your room is dark. Blackout curtains can be very effective and very cool. The atmosphere should be free from disruption, If your spouse is snoring, gently push them off the bed. (only kidding)
  6. Make sure your mattress is comfortable. If it’s over 8, it’s time to replace. Consider throwing some nice fluffy pillows on your bed, make sure to avoid allergens, and don’t leave your heels where you might trip over them.
  7. The right amount of light is important in maintaining circadian rhythms. Get some sunlight in the morning and avoid it in the evening.
  8. No alcohol, spicy foods, and coffee before sleeping. If your feel hunger may keep you awake, you can allow yourself a nice light snack 45 minutes before turning in.
  9. Keep any stressful work-related devices and thoughts separate from your sleep routine. Light from electronic devices can stimulate the brain and keep you awake.
  10. If you are having a hard time slipping into a dream state, go into another room and engage in a relaxing activity until you feel tired.

And, to think, your mother told you-you would never accomplish anything!