Sleep deprivation – is it really that bad?

22 Mar Sleep deprivation – is it really that bad?

All to many of us routinely stay up a bit later to watch a show and don’t get enough sleep.  Whether its family duties with tending to children during the night, binge watching Netflix or working night shifts its important to get enough sleep so are not sleep deprived during the day.

But so what if we are a bit sleep deprived?  Is it really that bad feeling a bit tired during the day?

The effect on people reaction times has been well researched with decreases in reaction time and decision making speeds reduced similarly to the effects of alcohol.

This decrease in reaction time leads to one of the biggest issues in society – the road toll.

15-30% of accidents are caused by falling asleep at the wheel.  Even more would be associated with driving tired where your reduced reacting time would mean your ability to evade the unexpected is affected.  The highest risk times for falling asleep are mid-afternoon and from midnight to dawn.

Studies have shown your risk of crashing is 3 times higher if you have only had 5 hrs sleep or less the night before.

On top of these important issues, researchers have also been looking at the immune systems response to sleep deprivation.

Ackermann et al found a similar effect on the immune system to physical stress.  Increased numbers of white blood cells (the bodies cells that fight off bacteria and disease) were noted after 29hrs of wakefulness and certain types would lose their natural day-night rhythmicity.   After 5 days of only 4 hours sleep, some of these white blood cells took up to 7 days to return to normal levels !

This shows that sleep deprivation both short and long term puts a significant stress on the body and may potentially contribute to developing other illness’s in the future.