ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --
Sleep deprivation is simply when a person doesn't get enough sleep. This can be a short-term issue, affecting one or a few nights, or it can be a chronic concern that lasts weeks or even months. Sleep deprivation can happen for countless reasons, many of them harmless, but it's also a key symptom of certain health conditions.
Here are a few excerpts from an article from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH.
“Sleep deprivation increases your risk for a long list of health problems, such as mood swings, gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting), headaches and joint pain, blood sugar and insulin system disruption, high blood pressure, seizures, and hallucinations.
“Sleep deprivation can also create problems during sleep, causing sleep apnea, restless legs, and other sleep disorder symptoms (getting enough sleep will correct these problems). Some people show more decline in performance than others, which may reflect an inherited trait or sensitivity to sleep loss.”
Below are some facts about sleep from NIOSH:
- Sleep is a biological need just like food.
- Sleep affects your mental and physical performance as well as long-term health.
- Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep every 24 hours.
- The longer you go without sleep, the more you are prone to slow thinking, confusion and making mistakes. This could put you and others around you at risk.
- Fatigue has been identified as a causal factor of vehicle crashes and several well-known industrial disasters.
- If you start to feel drowsy, stop driving or performing any critical activity.
- About 20% of all vehicle crashes are from driver fatigue.
- Impaired performance from lack of sleep mimics alcohol intoxication.
- Being awake for 17 hours mimics a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of 0.05%, which is the level some countries use for drunk driving violations.
- Being awake for 24 hours is like having a BAC of 0.10%, which is above the U.S. drunk driving level of 0.08.
Does your family ask you to wake-up because it is time to go to bed? Do you close your eyes for just a second, and a half an hour later you realized you fell asleep? If you said yes, you may not be getting enough sleep. If you wonder where you fit in the sleepiness scale use the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, to see where you stand, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/emres/longhourstraining/scale.html
Difficulty falling or staying asleep – insomnia – is a common problem. In fact, half of Americans report sleep difficulty at least occasionally. If that includes you, experts suggest it’s time to examine your diet, exercise patterns, sleeping environment, personal habits, lifestyle and current concerns. If you’ve been sleeping poorly for some time, you may have fallen into some bad sleep habits that reinforce the problem. As you begin to see the connection between, for example, what and/or when you eat or drink and nights of poor sleep, you can make changes if needed. Keep in mind that good sleep doesn’t always just happen.
Tips to a Good Night’s Sleep
Want a better night’s sleep? Try the following:
- Establish a regular sleep/wake schedule.
- Consume less or no caffeine and avoid or limit alcohol and/or nicotine.
- Exercise regularly but do so in the daytime.
- Drink less fluid before going to sleep.
- Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime.
- Try a relaxing routine, like soaking in hot tub or bath before bedtime.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet room with no electronic devices – particularly those with a power indicator light that always stays on.
Keep a sleep diary before and after you try these tips. If the quality of your sleep does not improve, share this diary with your doctor.
To protect your mental and physical health and your safety do your best to get enough sleep.
Take care of each other.