Obviously, the potential downside for severe sleep deprivation is disastrous. But sleep deprivation hurts us in a myriad of other ways too – some more subtle than others. Lack of sleep can lead to the following problems:
- Decreased productivity at work.
- Increase in workplace errors.
- Workplace accidents and injuries.
- Increased irritability.
- Decreased energy.
- Decreased sex drive.
- Memory problems.
- Concentration problems.
- Difficulty managing financial affairs.
The problem is widespread. Most of us need about eight hours of sleep per 24-hour period. But more than 35% reported getting less than seven hours per night. Nearly half of Americans reported snoring – a major indicator of sleep apnea, which can cause sleep deprivation.
Nearly 40% of Americans reported falling asleep unintentionally during the day, at least once during the previous month. About one in 20, or 4.7% report falling asleep while driving – a problem that the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates to have caused 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths in traffic accidents each year.
Tips for Managing Sleep Issues
There are some easy things you can do to help improve your sleep patterns. According to the National Sleep Foundation:
1. Go to bed at the same time each day.
2. Wake up at the same time each day.
3. Keep up the habit, even on weekends.
4. Establish a relaxing bed-time routine.
5. Invest in a good mattress and good pillows.
6. Get computers, TV sets, work materials and other distractions out of the bedroom, which should be used only for sleep and intimacy.
7. Don’t eat a big meal or heavy snack right before bedtime. (Your heart will thank you for this too!)
9. Avoid caffeine near bedtime.
Severe, chronic sleep difficulty is a medical issue. If you are routinely getting too little sleep, and it affects your personal and professional life, talk to your doctor about your options. He or she may refer you to a sleep specialist.