“At any age, the effects of sleepiness range from annoying to deadly,” says the US National Sleep Foundation Executive Director Richard Gelula.
Lack of sleep can reduce attention and vigilance by 50%, decision-making ability by 50%, communication skills by 30%, and memory by 20%, according to scientists.
Sleep deprivation, also known as “sleep debt”, is recognised as a serious problem in many countries today.
The price of this condition is high — reduced energy, greater difficulty concentrating, diminished mood, and greater risk for accidents (including fall-asleep crashes).
Work performance and relationships can suffer too. And pain may be intensified by the physical and mental consequences of lack of sleep.
Knowledge about sleep, just like knowledge about nutrition and exercise, is essential to your life, for happiness, productivity, and good health.
“We are not healthy unless our sleep is healthy. And we cannot make our sleep healthy unless we become thoroughly aware of both its peril and promise,” says William C. Dement, the world’s leading authority on sleep and sleep deprivation.
Here are 8 important things you should know about lack of sleep:
1. Lack of sleep directly causes, or is linked to over 20 medical problems — including depression, nighttime heartburn, diabetes, and heart disease.
2. It can also lead to mental problems, like distorted thinking, irrationality, hallucinations, delusions, anxiety, dread and paranoia.
3. On a personal level, it impairs our memory, prevents us from learning or practising new skills efficiently, and makes us less creative.
4. It affects workplace performance — sleepy workers are less motivated, indecisive, make more mistakes, don’t handle stress well and don’t care much about their work.
5. In school, it can result in disciplinary and behavioral problems, and poor grades.
6. In children, it poses injury risks — sleepy children sustain more falls and knocks.
7. It also jeopardises the safety of workers and road users by making people more accident-prone.
8. Overall, it decreases our quality of life.