Lack of Sleep


Chris Long, Journalist




Lack of sleep causes many problems. You need at least 8 hours of sleep in order to function properly. Sleep deprivation was a factor in some of the biggest disasters in recent history. For example, the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill, the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, and others were caused by people who were sleep deprived. But sleep loss is also a big public safety hazard every day on the road. Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. The problem is greatest among people under 25 years old.

Studies show that sleep loss and poor-quality sleep also lead to accidents and injuries on the job. In one study, workers who complained about excessive daytime sleepiness had significantly more work accidents. They also had more sick days. This shows that people who work full time and work long hours could lead to concerning health problems. If they don’t get enough sleep they could get hurt or hurt someone else. They could do something irresponsible such as falling asleep when they are using machinery. Or when they are using some type of machinery, they could be putting their own lives or someone else’s life at risk. This could end their career, be sentenced to jail, or they could die while driving off the side of the road while being in the accident by possibly losing control of their car.

Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes in many ways. First it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently. This could possibly leave you to do things that you think you can, but really cannot. For example in school, if you don’t sleep as long as you should or you just don’t sleep at all, you could possibly fail the class or fail tests, not complete your homework, or  possibly start to fall behind class. Mr. Ames, who is one of the teachers at Ipswich High School, said that he didn’t get much sleep at all because he usually has to grade papers and tests, or he just can’t sleep at all and that he wishes that he was able to sleep more so that he would feel better at school.

Sleep deprivation could also cause health problems like heart disease, heart attacks, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes. Statistics show that lack of sleep causes many heart problems that could also lead to problems in the future. If you don’t get enough sleep you could get a lot of health problems that could affect you mentally and physically. If you don’t sleep as long as you should your body will start to forget about sleep and your mental state could change on how much sleep you don’t get on a regular basis. Your body would start to shutdown on important things in your life. Over time, lack of sleep and sleep disorders can contribute to the symptoms of depression. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night.

The most common sleep disorder, insomnia, has the strongest link to depression. In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without. In fact, insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression. Insomnia and depression feed on each other. Sleep loss often aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it mo difficult to fall asleep.  Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. It turns out that chronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, this keeps skin smooth and elastic.