"I'll sleep when I'm dead."
- Warren Zevon (1947-2003)
Sleep deprivation has been a valued culture in many work places. The extra time not used for sleeping was supposedly devoted to work, resulting in greater production. However, recent studies are showing just the opposite. Over 23% of adults in recent national surveys state that they have had difficulty concentrating due to inadequate sleep. Unintentionally falling asleep, nodding off while driving, and having difficulty performing daily tasks are some of the effects noted. Other effects include decreased alertness, cognitive impairment, increased stress and increased appetite. Long-term effects are noted as high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke and obesity. Sleep experts estimate that the cost to the US economy due to sleep loss issues is $18 billion.
According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, nearly 30% of adults reported an average of ≤6 hours of sleep per night in 2005-2007 although most adults need at least 7-8 hours per night to remain healthy and fully functional.
In one study 37.9% reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month.
- Sleep deprivation was a factor in some of the biggest disasters in recent history: the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl.
- Sleep loss often aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep
- According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours.
To address sleep deficiencies, experts recommend the following:
1. Getting more exercise (but no later than 2 hours before bed time)
2. Reducing stress
3. Cutting back on caffeine, alcohol an nicotine
4. Changing any medications that may be affecting sleep
5. Stick to a regular sleep schedule
6. Avoid naps
7. Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing
8. Maintain a sleeping environment that is dark comfortable and quiet
If you don't take care of yourself, how can you expect to work at full productivity?