Sleep Habits: More Important Than You Think
Chronic Sleep Deprivation May Harm Health
By Michael J. Breus, PhD
Reviewed by Stuart J. Meyers, MD
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 show.
- Occupational Injury: Excessive sleepiness also contributes to a greater than twofold higher risk of sustaining an occupational injury.
- 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 1,550 fatalities.