Not sleeping enough and not sleeping well is not OK. As a matter of fact,
there is quite a price to pay. It may surprise you to learn that chronic sleep
deprivation, for whatever reason, significantly affects your health,
performance, safety, and pocketbook.
However, it is critically important to realize that sleep
deprivation is very often due to unrecognized sleep disorders. After
a typical night's sleep, you may not feel restored and refreshed and be sleepy
during the day, but be totally unaware that you are sleep-deprived or have a
sleep disorder. You might think, "It's just the stress of work or the kids," or
you might have "always felt this way" and had no idea that you should feel
differently. This lack of awareness compounds the consequences, because so many
people remain undiagnosed for years.
That said, let's look at the consequences of sleep deprivation.
In the short term:
Decreased Performance and Alertness: Sleep deprivation
induces significant reductions in performance and alertness. Reducing your
nighttime sleep by as little as one and a half hours for just one night could
result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32%.
Memory and Cognitive Impairment: Decreased alertness and
excessive daytime sleepiness impair your memory and your cognitive ability --
your ability to think and process information.
Stress Relationships: Disruption of a bed partner's
sleep due to a sleep disorder may cause significant problems for the
relationship (for example, separate bedrooms, conflicts, moodiness, etc.).
Poor Quality of Life: You might, for example, be unable to
participate in certain activities that require sustained attention, like going
to the movies, seeing your child in a school play, or watching a favorite TV
Occupational Injury: Excessive sleepiness also contributes
to a greater than twofold higher risk of sustaining an occupational
Automobile Injury: The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) estimates conservatively that each year drowsy driving
is responsible for at least 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries, and
The good news for many of the disorders that cause sleep deprivation is that
after risk assessment, education, and treatment, memory and cognitive deficits
improve and the number of injuries decreases.
In the long term, the clinical consequences of untreated sleep disorders are
large indeed. They are associated with numerous, serious medical illnesses,