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The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

By Paul Rothbart

People seem to be busier than ever these days. There's no shortage of tasks and not enough time to accomplish everything. Many work long hours at their jobs and then have a family and children to take care of. There is no way to add more hours to the day. Far too many cut back on sleep in an effort to have more time to get everything. This, however, is a mistake. Sleep deprivation will have a negative impact on your ability to do everything. Your performance will get worse and you will also be damaging your health.

How Sleep Helps the Body

Throughout the night, your sleep cycles through two basic patterns, rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. During REM sleep, dreaming occurs. The deeper sleep where restoration of the body happens is non-REM. The cycles occur about 3-5 times, so if you shorten the number of hours of sleep, your body gets less of both REM and non-REM sleep which are so essential to health. The cycles cannot be shortened. Fewer hours mean fewer cycles.

The Harm of Sleep Deprivation

It is estimated that between 50 and 70 million American adults suffer from chronic sleep disorders. Almost 40 percent report dozing off during the day at least once a month. Lack of sleep is connected to many serious health issues including heart and kidney disease, depression, diabetes, and stroke. Sleep deprivation commonly causes car accidents when drivers drift off behind the wheel. It only takes a few seconds. Insufficient sleep can also cause falls and accidents related to the reduced coordination and balance that often result from less than optimal sleep. Sleep deprivation is one of the worst things for your health.

Avoid Sleep Deprivation

The most obvious way to avoid sleep deprivation is to get a sufficient amount of sleep. Most adults need 8-9 hours a night. Each night that you get less than that adds to your total sleep deficit. If you sleep two fewer hours every night for a week, you will have a 14-hour deficit. That will harm your health. Short naps can be helpful, but don't rely too heavily on them. They don't provide nearly as much REM and non-REM sleep as you would get while sleeping overnight. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on off days, will train your body when to fall asleep. It establishes a good pattern and the quality of sleep improves.

Most people are incredibly busy and looking for ways to get a little more done. This is admirable, but don't add more hours at the expense of sleep. In the end, you will have less energy, make more mistakes, and seriously damage your health. Sleep should be sacred.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractor in Huntington Beach, Calif.

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