A May 2005 article in the “British Columbia Medical Journal” reported that physicians that were sleep-deprived had higher rates of error and greater difficulty performing various procedures such as laparoscopies and intubations. Electrocardiogram interpretations indicated the doctors had greater rates of error while performing in intensive care units. According to an article from the October 2007 issue of “Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment,” decision-making and long-term memory was adversely affected. It was also found that adverse changes in cognitive skills were linked to sleep deprivation.
One of the hallmark signs that you are probably sleep deprived—oddly enough, is if you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow. If it normally takes you less than five minutes to fall into sleep, you are a definite candidate for needing more sleep.
You are most likely sleep deprived if you find your thinking getting fuzzy and unclear, if decisions take longer to make. Cognition and reaction times slow down with lack of sleep. If you find it hard to solve problems or your understanding of facts seems to sail right over your head, or you can’t come up with the right words to explain what you want to say, these are all signs of sleep deprivation. If your judgment seems impaired and you’re making bad choices, all of these can be warning signs of inadequate sleep. Things are not clicking in the normal way they should.
If you are falling asleep while driving-- if while driving, for instance, you find yourself veering over into other lanes—that is a definite sign of a lack of adequate sleep. This should sound alarm bells and warning klaxon horns should be blaring in your head—these are red flag wavers that you are in a very dangerous state and should take steps as soon as possible to correct your sleep deficit.
Here are just some of the startling statistics that have emerged from the effects of insomnia on our population:
- A poll from the National Sleep Foundation states that the number of people admitting to driving while drowsy is around sixty percent, and out of that, as much as thirty-seven percent admit to actually falling asleep while driving. According to statistics revealed from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every year approximately 100,000 accidents involving vehicles occur from drivers who are drowsy. It is estimated that 1500 persons die in these traffic accidents annually.
- Insomnia affects over thirty percent of the population, and nowadays people tend to sleep fewer hours than they did one hundred years prior. How much less? It is estimated that the population is averaging around twenty percent less sleep than they got a hundred years ago.
- One out of three people at some point during their lifetime experience some form of sleeplessness.
- Stress and/or anxiety take a toll in sleep loss in over half of the U.S. population. And forty to sixty percent of seniors over the age of sixty deal with insomnia.
- It seems that women are twice as susceptible to experiencing insomnia than their male counterparts.
- If you suffer from depression, you are quite likely to get insomnia, as ninety percent of depression patients deal with it.
- Thirty-five percent of people suffering from poor sleep show insomnia in their family history.
- You are twenty-seven percent more likely to become overweight if you are a victim of insomnia.
- Sleep aids are prescribed to approximately ten million Americans.
- In a Consumer Reports survey recently polled, the most frequently given reason a couple admitted for not having sex was that they were too tired.
- The Institute of Medicine revealed that hundreds of billions of dollars every year are doled out for sleep disorder-related medical expenses.
The implications for mental impairment while experiencing sleep deprivation are real and pose a threat to our health and safety. Clearly, insomnia is an issue that should not be overlooked.
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