Sleep is invaluable to everyone as it allows the body to recuperate and recover from everyday life. So how much sleep do we really need? Research has shown that the average person requires 7 – 8 hours of sleep to feel refreshed. Top athletes and performers are an exception to this rule as they require more sleep than the average individual.
How often have we heard someone say “I will make up for the lost sleep this weekend or when I’m on holiday”. Our busy lifestyles have given rise to a new breed of insomniacs – “in denial insomniacs”. These are individuals who think they’ve got enough sleep but always seem to be falling asleep at their desk or having rings around their eyes.
Sleep deprivation can affect many of us at some point in our lifes. However, most people who are suffering from sleep deprivation are either in denial or too stubborn to see that there is a deep-rooted problem which stems from their lack of sleep. The effects of sleep deprivation can have drastic effects on an individual.
Headaches, tiredness, sleepiness and bloodshot eyes are all mild symptoms of sleep deprivation. In more severe cases, symptoms can include bouts of irritability, temporary blackouts, delayed reaction times, inability to focus and uncontrollable trembling.
Individuals suffering from sleep deprivation usually exhibit diminished motor skills. Driving a vehicle or operating heavy machinery thus becomes a dangerous task when a person is in a sleep deprived state. There is a an unequivocal correlation traffic accidents and sleep deprivation. According to data gathered from various countries including, England, Australia, U.S., Finland and other major European nations, sleep related traffic accidents represent 10 – 30 percent of all road crashes.
There is no doubt that sleep deprivation significantly increases the risk of sleep-related car crashes even among safe drivers. The less sleep a person gets, the higher the risk of a sleep-related crash. Researchers in Australia have documented that the impairments brought about from staying awake for 18 hours to be equivalent to .05 BAC (Blood Alcohol Level) and a significant increase of .10 BAC if a person was to stay awake for 24 hours. Keeping in mind that you are considered drunk at .08 BAC.
It is worth noting that shift workers are more likely to drive in a drowsy or sleep deprived state than their regular schedule work counterparts. Sleep fragmentation associated with shift workers can not only be a health issue but also a public health threat. An individual is more susceptible to a car accident when he or she experiences one or more “micro-sleeps” while behind the wheel of a vehicle. A “micro-sleep” is the split second instance when a person dozes off to sleep. That split second of so called “micro-sleep” could be the difference between life and death in most cases of traffic accidents.
Lack of sleep in certain individuals can give rise to a hosts of quality of life issues. Long term health risk can be attributed to chronic sleep deprivation. Studies have reported a higher incidence of health issues encompassing obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and stress in people who suffer from these symptoms. Complications can arise for individuals who also suffer from any form of mental illness.