Lack of Sleep Can Have Dire Consequences

“Lack of sleep never killed anyone,” right? This adage has been around for years, but let’s face it, we don’t believe it. In fact, one in three Americans suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, with many of the following consequences:

Higher risk of accidents – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 1,550 people die each year in the United States from fatigue; experts believe fatigue is a factor in 30% to 40% of all heavy truck crashes.

Higher risk of serious illness – This includes diabetes, stroke, and heart disease; according to one study, people who slept five hours or less per night doubled their risk of death from heart disease.

Risk of obesity – Individuals who sleep less than seven hours a night have higher rates of obesity, which produces other health issues. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who sleep only four hours per night consumed 300 more calories daily than their well-rested peers.

Brain fog – Making decisions becomes more difficult.

Depression – Untreated, chronic sleep loss can lead to depression or anxiety.

Impaired judgment – Sleep deprivation can mean we make poor choices.

Here are a few tips that may help you sleep more soundly:

  • Reduce caffeinated beverage consumption 12 hours before bedtime.
  • Eat at least three hours before bedtime, and avoid heavy meals at night.
  • Avoid daytime naps, even brief ones.
  • Banish devices from the bedroom.
  • Increase exercise.
  • If you can’t sleep, go into another room and relax before returning to bed.

Of course, most people suffer occasional sleep disruption, but when is it so disruptive you should seek medical attention?

If you regularly experience difficulty sleeping, if you’re still tired after seven hours of sleep, or if your sleeplessness impairs your cognitive abilities or limits your daytime activities, visit your primary care physician.