Cranky? You're Likely Fighting Fatigue
Sleep Gets No Respect
In the survey, insomnia caused poor sleep in the majority of cases (74%). However, Castriotta also puts the blame on too much computer use.
"The computer allows people to stay up passively, but interacting so that it's stimulating you to stay awake," he tells WebMD. "People are busy on the computer, suddenly it's 3 a.m. and they're not even feeling tired. All of this has taken a toll."
People view sleepiness as an annoyance and nothing worse, Mahowald says. "Most of us were raised to think that sleep was negotiable. Sleep deprivation was a badge of honor."
Your employer probably considers working round-the-clock to be a positive trait, he tells WebMD. "The less sleep you get, the better worker you're perceived to be, the more committed, the more dedicated."
"We never brag about how much sleep we get; we only brag when we get too little sleep," Mahowald says. "The attitude is that sleep deprivation is more respected. The fact is no degree of commitment or dedication can override the need for sleep."
Beware the Energy Drinks, Caffeine Pills
Whole industries have emerged to help us stay awake during the day. It's no accident that, in virtually every society in the world, coffee is the daytime beverage of choice, says Castriotta.
"People have always taken stimulants to stay awake," he tells WebMD. In fact, people today are downing caffeine pills, herbal caffeine pills, and nutritional supplements like ENADA to fight drowsiness.
"Under certain circumstances, they may be appropriate," Castriotta says. "If you're flying a B-2 bomber from Missouri to Afghanistan and back, you're allowed to take a drug. But once you get back to base, you don't continue to take those drugs."
The same advice pertains to our everyday lives, he says. Take them in a crisis -- when you need to put in extra hours on a big project -- then quit.
The energy-boosting drinks -- Red Bull, Jolt, Lizard Fuel, Mad River Energy Hammer, Red Devil Energy Drink, Sobe Adrenaline Rush -- are just craziness, says Leslie Bonci, MPHRD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
"If you drink this stuff and are on the ceiling, don't be surprised," Bonci tells WebMD.
The drinks "have huge loads of caffeine -- much more than a Coke or Pepsi," she says. Trouble is, most people drink more than one. Then, when it's finally time to get some sleep, they're so wired that sleep is impossible. "Your mind is circling the room 25,000 times."
Sensitivity to caffeine in any form -- including pills such as No-Doz -- depends on the person, says Bonci. "Your heart may be racing more than otherwise, you can get an acid stomach. Caffeine can also have a diuretic effect, a fluid-losing effect. Yet you're not giving the body any fuel [any food] whatsoever. So when it wears off, the body is in shock. So you're even more tired."