Millions of people today are in serious ‘debt’. This debt can be a major factor in wrecking their cars, damaging their careers, and even ruining their marriages. It can adversely affect their health and life span. It is a deficit that contributes to immune suppression, creating susceptibility to various infections. Conditions as different as diabetes, heart disease, and extreme obesity, as well as other health problems have been linked to it. Yet, most victims are oblivious of this debt.
The culprit is sleep debt, which develops when a person does not get the amount of healthful sleep needed for a well being. This can be caused by voluntary sleep deprivation resulting from a person’s life-style or by involuntary sleep deprivation because of illness.
Medical researchers estimate that earth’s population is now getting, on average, an hour less sleep per night than what is needed. While this may seem slight, a nightly six-billion-hour debt has become the focus of research into both the variety of sleep-related illnesses and their impact on the quality of life.
The medical world once viewed the chronic inability to sleep as just one disorder, commonly called insomnia. However a commission created by the US congress recognized 17 distinct sleep disorders. At any rate, insomnia has many causes that it is often considered to be a symptom of other problems, much as fever suggests some sort of infection. Even occasional deprivation of sleep can be disastrous. Consider, too, the occupational dangers of being around a sleepy coworker.
“After 17 to 19 hours without sleep (participants) performance on some tests was equivalent or worse than that at (a blood-alcohol concentration of) 0.05%”. In other words, subjects functioned as if at or beyond the legal limit in some countries of alcohol permitted in a driver’s bloodstream! With hundreds of thousands of sleep-related auto and job-site accidents happening annually, the worldwide cost to productivity and family is enormous.
What factors may contribute to sleep debt? One is the social phenomenon often called 24/7- operating 24hours a day, seven days a week. USA today describes this as “a cultural earthquake that is changing the way we live”, noting that a new wave of round-the-clock retailers and services is profiting by mocking the clock.” In many lands people watch all night television programs and access the internet when they should be sleeping. Then there is the toll taken by emotional disorders, often involving anxieties heightened by stress and pace of life. Finally, there are a variety of physical diseases that can contribute to sleep debt.
Reversing this sleep debt is a complex challenge. But understanding how a healthful sleep cycle works and learning to identify the signs of sleep debt can provide the motivation to change. Recognizing the symptoms of a serious sleep disorder can save lives.

2 responses

  1. Pingback: Related Content: Sleep Struggles and Disorders « ADD . . . and-so-much-more

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