Are You Sleep Deprived? It Could be Affecting Your Decisions in a Very Bad Way
Do you know anyone with a newborn baby? Or a loved one who has said they just can’t get to sleep at night? This article could be very much appreciated by someone with challenges sleeping. About 11 percent of Americans are sleep deprived, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey. After surveying nearly 404,000 adults, just 31 percent said they got enough sleep every night for the past month. Most fell somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between well-rested and utterly sleep deprived. Further, among people who were unable to work, nearly 26 percent said they had not had even one good night’s sleep in the prior 30 days, along with nearly 14 percent of unemployed people. A poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found a similar trend, with nearly one-third of Americans saying they couldn’t get a good night’s sleep because of worries about the economy, money or their job. In all, 27 percent of those polled said their sleep had been disturbed in the past month due to money problems, such as:
Personal finances (16 percent)
The economy (15 percent)
Losing their job (10 percent)
This lack of sleep plaguing Americans may have life-threatening repercussions in their ability to make quick decisions when under pressure. Your Ability to Think Quickly is Threatened by Sleep Deprivation A study published in an issue of Sleep examined how sleep deprivation affected information-integration, a process that relies on making instant, gut-feeling decisions. Quick thinking is crucial to a number of professions, including military officers, firefighters and police officers, as well as anyone needing to think quickly when faced with a threatening situation that calls for instant action. After following 49 U.S. military cadets and analyzing their ability to perform information integration tasks while either well rested or sleep deprived, researchers found that even moderate sleep deprivation caused an immediate loss of information-integration abilities. Specifically, accuracy of the information-integration tasks declined by 2.4 percent when the cadets who were sleep deprived improved by 4.3 percent when they were well rested. The researchers wrote: “The findings suggest that the neural systems underlying information integration strategies are not strongly affected by sleep deprivation but, rather, that the use of an information-integration strategy in a task may require active inhibition of rule-based strategies, with this inhibitory process being vulnerable to the effects of sleep deprivation.”
What Else is Impacted When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
Sleep is an essential element of survival, and without it many of your body’s functions will fall apart. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), while rats normally live for two to three years, those deprived of all sleep only live about three weeks, and those deprived of REM sleep (the stage of sleep when we dream and during which it’s thought brain regions used in learning are stimulated) survive only about five weeks on average. At the same time, the rats developed abnormally low body temperatures and sores on their tails and paws. Researchers believe the sores indicate a sluggish immune system and suggest just how detrimental sleep deprivation can be to the immune system of humans. Further, according to the Sleep Council, insufficient sleep could:
Make you fat. People who sleep four hours a night or less are 73 percent more likely to be overweight than those who sleep enough. Even if you sleep less than six hours a night, you’re 25 percent more likely to be overweight than those who sleep longer. Increase your appetite (also causing you to gain weight). Research by University of Bristol researchers found that people who slept for five hours had 15 percent more of a hormone called ghrelin, which increases appetite, than those who slept for eight hours. Meanwhile, the short sleepers also had 15 percent less leptin, which is a hormone that suppresses appetite. Mimic the aging process. In fact, University of Chicago researchers found that sleeping for four hours a night for less than seven nights interferes with your ability to process and store carbs, and regulate hormone levels — all of which may lead to aging. Impact your brain. According to Canadian sleep expert Stanley Coren, you lose one IQ point for every hour of lost sleep you didn’t get the night before.
Further, an NSF poll found 54 percent of adults, which amounts to a potential 110 million licensed drivers, have driven when drowsy at least once in the past year, and 28 percent said they have nodded off or fallen asleep while driving. The obvious repercussions of this could be increased motor vehicle accidents and a major public safety problem. Secrets to a Sound Night’s Sleep If you’ve been sleep deprived for several days, you will create a “sleep debt” that will need to be repaid, meaning that you’ll need to sleep longer than usual just to function normally and feel rested. Here are 17 tips that will help you to not only fall asleep, but ensure your night’s sleep is peaceful and fully restorative:
Exercise, ideally everyday. This positive stress will tire out your body in a good way – – just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime (within three hours), as it could keep you up. 2. Use a safe and natural sleep aid. 3. Stretch a bit before you lie down. You can literally stretch out some of the “kinks” and tension of the day. If muscles spasms present a problem, use a natural muscle relaxant that provides comprehensive support for acute and chronic muscle spasms. Also ask your next appointment if Magnesium Citrate and Calcium Citrate including what dosage would be most helpful for your condition. 4. Wear earplugs or an eye mask. If you can hear noisy traffic or see lights from outside, earplugs and an eye mask can give you the silence and the darkness that are ideal for sleep. 5. Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Take a bath before bed, brush your teeth, get into your PJs and turn on some soothing music that will let your mind know it’s time for slumber. 6. Once you are in bed, for a few minutes read something you are least interested in or listen to a relaxing CD to help you “shift gears” and relax into sleep. 7. Don’t drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages near your bedtime. 8. Keep to a regular schedule that includes a standard time to go to sleep and wake up. 9. Make your room “sleepable.” A very dark, cool room is best for sleep. 10. Get a handle on your stress. It is the number-one cause of sleep problems, according to sleep experts. Ask at your next appointment for recommended comprehensive nutritional support for stress and anxiety if you can not get a handle on the stress during daytime hours. Using GABA and other calming nutrient
StressArrest effectively blocks stress and anxiety messages before they reach the motor centers of the brain. 11. Put the kibosh on work before bed. If you work or do other mentally trying activities too close to bedtime, you may have a hard time relaxing for sleep. And Now for Six Sleep Tips You May Not Know Of … 12. Get a new mattress. About 87 percent of people who purchase a new mattress say they are satisfied with their choice and its impact on their quality of sleep, the Better Sleep Council reports. Generally, a mattress’ life span is five to seven years. 13. Evaluate your prescription medications. Certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs — such as steroids, decongestants and drugs for high blood pressure, depression and asthma — can keep you up at night. If you’re having trouble sleeping, consult with your doctor to see if your medications could be to blame. 14. Make love. Sexual activity helps to relax your body! 15. Eat something. Feeling hungry can make it hard to fall asleep. A light snack, such as peanut butter on whole-grain crackers, can help you to get a good night’s sleep. 16. Massage your feet, especially with warm oil, right before bed — it’s very relaxing. 17. If you smoke, quit. Nicotine is linked to difficulty falling asleep and problems waking up.