Sleep Deprivation: The cost

Two nights ago I woke up at 1:30 a.m. and did not fall back to sleep until 3:30 a.m. The room was too hot to sleep comfortably and I was awakened by a night sweat. I got up and cooled the room, but before I could fall back to sleep I was experiencing painful flushing caused by the niacin I take. Yikes! Today I am struggling with staying awake and trying to be productive.

According to surveys done between 1999 and 2004 by the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of adults report having difficulties sleeping a few nights a week. According to WebMD, some of the consequences of sleep deprivation can be:

  • Decreased performance and alertness
  • Memory and cognitive impairment
  • Stress on relationships
  • Poor quality of life
  • Occupational injury
  • Automobile injury

For many of us, irritability, poor decision making and decreased performance are the main problems. Yep, I have now started this article for the second time…my first try did not save properly.

According to sleep researchers, cognitive behavioral therapy can be as or more effective than the use of popular medications to solve sleep issues. Some of the recommendations for improved sleep include this list from the APA web site:

  • Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule
  • Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use
  • Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you awake in the night
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep
  • Get regular exercise
  • Minimize noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperatures where you sleep
  • Develop a regular bed time and go to bed at the same time each night
  • Try and wake up without an alarm clock
  • Attempt to go to bed earlier every night for certain period; this will ensure that you’re getting enough sleep

I will definitely be heading to bed early tonight. I already do many of the other recommendations and usually sleep pretty well. Maybe that is why I am so discombobulated when my sleep is disturbed.

How often is sleep deprivation a problem for you? Has it become chronic insomnia? What do you do about it? How can we prevent this epidemic of sleep deprivation from undermining our lives?

Please share your experiences, your comments, your yawns 😉 below.

0 thoughts on “Sleep Deprivation: The cost

  • I often do not go to sleep because I am afraid that I may not be able to sleep. It is a vicious cycle. One thing is for sure, when I do sleep I want to be in a very deep sleep, no dreams, just deep, restful sleep. Coming from a long line of insomniacs, the patterm seems to be unavoidable.

    • Claudia, one of the most important things about going to sleep at night is having an established pre-sleep pattern that you use all the time. Watching TV or reading email or otherwise playing with electronic devices seems to be something that keeps people awake. Reading something too stimulating can have the same effect. Even face-washing just before getting into bed can wake a person up. Maybe you can start by observing what things make you drowsy….music, reading something you know you should read like a classic book or poetry, or slow gentle stretching. Try doing those things with as little light as possible until you are ready to nod off. And try to forget that you come from a long line of insomniacs! I doubt that helps since it is such a self-fufilling prophecy! Thanks for your comment.

  • Isn’t it funny that I work for a large group of mental health practitioners, many of whom work specifically with clients with sleep disorders, and I never thought to ask for some additional recommendations if I or my husband have trouble sleeping! I knew many of the recommended behaviors, and do try to incorporate many of them into my life. I did NOT know about the smoking right before bedtime issue, and will certainly be more than happy (as a non-smoker) to pass this information on to my frequently tossing-and-turning smoker husband! Thanks for your article!

    • Isn’t it amazing what we forget! Since sleep deprivation is a public health issue, they might put a list of ‘tips’ on a bulletin board for any staff who might experience a problem. Thanks for reading and commenting, Jamie.

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