In the last installment we learned about how much sleep we should be getting if we want to remain vibrant and healthy. Next we need to learn how prevalent sleep deprivation is and what some common effects of lack of quality sleep can be.
A 2017 report conducted by the Sleep Health Foundation showed that 33.1% of Australians don’t get adequate sleep and this is having a dramatic effect on our society. It is estimated that chronic sleep deprivation costs us $66 billion annually through increased health care expenses and loss of productivity.
Lack of good quality sleep can contribute to many disease states. It increases your risk of:
- Heart Disease - Stroke
- Heart Attack - Depression
- Heart Failure - Impaired Immune Function
- Irregular Heartbeat - Increased Weight Gain
- Increased Blood Pressure - Diabetes
In fact, people who chronically sleep less than 6 hrs per night are 5 times more likely to have prediabetic blood work (increased blood glucose levels)
Also, for those of us trying to reduce our body fat, getting enough sleep is essential. Studies have shown that getting less than 6 hours sleep per night will cause an elevation in cortisol levels in the body. Elevated cortisol in your system will cause your body to deposit fat around your midsection. That means, restricting your sleep will make it much harder to shift that unwanted belly fat
Sleep loss also impairs judgement and decreases reaction times which can affect your ability to drive safely. Driving after being awake for 17 hours can affect you as much as having a 0.05 blood alcohol level, while driving when being awake for 24 hours equals a 0.10 Blood alcohol level.
It is estimated that 1 in 6 motor vehicle accidents are caused by drowsy drivers and that ratio increased to 1 in 4 on country roads.
Not only does sleep impair your cognitive abilities, it makes you especially prone to poor judgement when assessing what effects a lack of sleep is having on you. Sleep experts say that if you think you’re doing fine on less sleep, you’re probably wrong!
Dr Phil Gehrman, assistant professor of psychiatry and clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania states:
“Studies show that over time, people who are getting six hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, begin to feel they’ve adapted to that sleep deprivation - they’ve gotten used to it. But if you look at how they actually do on tests of mental alertness and performance, they continue to go downhill. So there’s a point in sleep deprivation when we lose touch with how impaired we are.”
This means that not only is your sleep deprivation making it harder to think and make decisions, you can’t even tell how much it’s affecting you
Make sure to check out part 3 for some ideas on how to boost the quality of your sleep
Written by Dr. Simon Weekes, Chiropractor at Better Back Chiropractic, Oakbank - serving the Adelaide Hills and Mt Barker Regions.
Asleep on the Job: Costs of Inadequate Sleep in Australia, Sleep Health Foundation, Aug 2017
American Heart Association Scientific Conferences, Palm Harbor, Fla., March 10-14, 2009.
News release, American Heart Association