3 Major Health (And Work-Related) Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

Did you know that the average American sleeps less than 7 hours each night? This may sound normal to many people, but it falls short of the nationally recommended amount of sleep. As a result of their sleep patterns, 37% of adults have stated that they were so tired that it affected their daily activities – and that includes when they’re at work.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Being fatigued at work can seriously affect your performance. And being sleepy at work doesn’t just stop you from getting your job done: it can cost your organization major money, too. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine estimated that sleep deprivation can cost an organization $3,156 per worker in productivity.

And your work performance will ultimately be affected by more than feeling sleepy and groggy. When you’re sleep deprived you’ll likely experience other symptoms of sleep loss, including:

  • An increased risk of getting sick
  • Clumsiness
  • Weepiness
  • Extreme hunger
  • Inability to focus and remember things

Worse still, the effects of going without enough sleep go deeper than just a loss of productivity at work. Sleep loss can seriously affect your health in the long term. These common illnesses and issues are possible effects of losing sleep.

Increased risk of stroke

The risk of strokes increases by almost 4 times when only getting 6 hours of sleep as compared to 7-8 hours of sleep as shown by a 3 year study of almost 6,000 adults. By losing that extra hour or two of sleep you increase your risk of suffering from a stroke in the future.

Increased risk of obesity

Since you feel hungrier when you are tired, you may indulge in a little extra eating than you normally would. You may also make poorer food selections than you would if you were fully rested. This is all due to a change in the hormones that regulate your food intake which occurs when you get 6 or fewer hours of sleep.

Increased memory loss

Running low on sleep can definitely make you feel unfocused and unable to concentrate but it can also lead to long term cognitive problems and memory loss. While we sleep, our brain is busy storing away your day into long term memory. When you don’t get an appropriate amount of sleep, your brain doesn’t have an opportunity to do that. Not getting enough sleep can lead to brain deterioration which can affect you for the rest of your life.

Those are only a few of the serious risks associated with sleep deprivation. Some other dangers include:

  • A higher risk of getting diabetes
  • Damage to bones
  • A higher risk of cancer
  • A heightened risk of heart disease

When you wake up and you’re already feeling groggy, try a few of these tips to keep yourself peppy and awake so that you’re not falling asleep on the job:

  • Don’t skip breakfast! Your brain will be more alert if you start off the day well with a good breakfast.
  • Opt for a lighter lunch. Heavy foods will bog you down and make you feel like you need an afternoon nap.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Listen to some upbeat music to get you going. (Make sure to check with your supervisor or Human Resources first to make sure it’s allowed.)
  • Get some fresh air and take a quick, brisk walk to get your blood flowing. The fresh air will help wake you up and the increase in blood flow will keep you alert.
  • When all else fails: coffee.

Ultimately, while there are things you can do to keep yourself going for a day here and there, the best remedy for staying awake during the day is always getting a good amount of sleep each night. Going to sleep early can help if you have trouble falling asleep. By getting enough sleep you are not only helping yourself, but you are helping your organization. Getting enough sleep can prevent you from losing productivity. A well rested mind is better equipped to focus on the work that needs to be done.

Sources Cited

The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

USA Today

Huffington Post


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