Sleep Deprivation in America

Sleep deprivation is a real epidemic in America. Sleep deprivation is what happens when one decides to get less sleep then needed so they can stay up to complete a task or an assignment. Sleep deprivation effects everyone in America, you’ll see it more in college students than anything. Sleep deprivation is not healthy and must be corrected and fixed. Sleep is important and we as Americans must get more of it! Our body, mind and spirit need sleep or else we can’t function as an individual or a society.

One third of Americans don’t get enough sleep (CDC Newsroom). Sleep loss can alter how well you function throughout the day. Sleep deprivation can also lead to many tragic accidents (Medical News). We as Americans need sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults aged 18“60 years sleep at least 7 hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being. Sleeping less than seven hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress (CDC Newsroom).

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After reviewing these two articles I was introduced to a lot of new information regarding sleep. I had no clue sleep was linked to so many health problems, but it makes sense. Sleep is essentially your body and mind resting and resetting itself for the next day. If you don’t go to sleep how can your body ever recover from all that it went through from the previous day? This in turn hinders your health and many other things that I had no clue about.

Sleep deprivation can negatively affect a range of systems in the body. Not getting enough sleep prevents the body from strengthening the immune system and producing more cytokines to fight infection. This can mean a person can take longer to recover from illness as well as having an increased risk of chronic illness. Sleep deprivation can also result in an increased risk of new and advanced respiratory diseases. A lack of sleep can affect body weight. Two hormones in the body, leptin and ghrelin, control feelings of hunger and satiety, or fullness. The levels of these hormones are affected by sleep. Sleep deprivation also causes the release of insulin, which leads to increased fat storage and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Sleep helps the heart vessels to heal and rebuild as well as affecting processes that maintain blood pressure and sugar levels as well as inflammation control. Not sleeping enough increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Insufficient sleep can affect hormone production, including growth hormones and testosterone in men (Medical News).

This medical news article I found goes more in depth I feel like with health-related problems involving sleep. These health hazards are caused by just not getting enough sleep. After reading these articles I think back to my freshman year of college, and now realize that I was sleep deprived. From staying up till 3-4a.m. to finish assignments then going to sleep just to wake up at 7a.m. to make it to my 8a.m. class was not healthy, as well as not eating breakfast. It’s scary how my health was affected during that time!

One cause of the overall sleeplessness issue is that the typical American schedule is not conducive to maintaining healthy sleep habits. We stay up late catching up on work or socializing and we get up early for work or to get the kids ready for school. Unfortunately, these hectic schedules start early with our school schedules. Teenage years are marked by a shift in natural sleep cycles toward higher function at night and less function in the early morning, yet many high school days start at or before 8:00 a.m. (Sleep Score).

This article made me realize that 8a.m. classes in college are the worst, and that a way to help teenagers now is to change the time school starts. High schoolers must make it to school by 7:45a.m. my experience with this is worse cause I rode the bus in high school. I would have to be up and out by 6:30a.m. On top of being an athlete in high school which meant late practices, my plate was full, and I needed more sleep. I believe having school start at maybe 9-10 and letting out at 3 would suffice. Also, another way to help college students, especially freshmen is to lower their workload. Many professors pile up work on freshmen with papers and projects and tests. This in turn causes these students to become sleep deprived and depressed and other health hazards.

Another cause of sleep deprivation for adults is shift worka situation where employees may have to work at night or other off-hour times. Then there are the true sleep disorders. It is estimated that 30% of American men and 12% of American women between the ages of 30 and 70, have an obstructive breathing disorder like sleep apnea, and 90% of those sufferers are undiagnosed (Sleep Score)

My brother is an example of this. He works overnight at Walmart. The overnight shift is from 11p.m. till 7a.m. I witness him sleep from the moment he gets home till he has to go back to work and he would still be tired.

More recently, the prevalence of personal electronic devices and our incessant use of them close to bedtime has also been shown to disrupt sleep. Personal electronics often use blue light to affect the brightness of the screens on our smartphones, tablets, and TVs. Exposure to bright light, particularly blue light, at night has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns (Sleep Score).

This was interesting because I cannot sleep without my tv on and I find it peculiar that this hinders sleep! I will agree to an extent that cell phones disrupt sleep because there are some nights when I can’t sleep so I use my phone to watch videos to make myself tired, but it sometimes has the reverse effects and I feel more awake than ever.

Lastly, there is a lack of access to education and available treatment aids for sleep issues. Many sleep-sufferers think, well, this is just how it is, deprioritizing sleep issues as unsolvable and therefore not seeking diagnosis and treatment for their problems (Sleep Score).

I find this to be very true because I think back to how I would always say and still say it’s normal for me to not have sleep. In fact, it is not normal, I think back again to my freshman year of college and I used to take melatonin to go to sleep!

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 30 percent, or 40.6 million, of American adults are sleeping six or fewer hours a day, and night shift workers, particularly those in transportation, warehouse and health care industries are at the most risk of not getting enough sleep (Medical Daily).

The news that that 30 percent of the U.S. suffers from sleep deprivation is not surprising but, is concerning. When I think I don’t believe I know anyone who gets more than 6 hours of sleep, working class America cannot afford to sleep as my dad would say. While he says that as a joke, I find that to be true according to studies and tests.

According to the CDC report, 44 percent who night shift workers got less than six hours of sleep compared to those 28.8 percent of those who work during the day. About 69.7 percent of warehouse and transportation workers and 52.3 percent of health-care and social assistance workers don’t get enough sleep (Medical Daily).

Warehouse workers and transportation workers need rest! What will it take for people to see this? They must get sleep they can’t go without sleep or else they’ll hurt someone in their workplace or themselves. It’s very dangerous to drive while tired I know this first hand, I fell asleep behind the wheel while on the highway. I went from the middle lane to the barrier in the middle in a split second. Luckily, I woke back up before anything worse happened.

Americans who work more than 40 hours a week are also less likely to get enough sleep per night, compared to those who work 40 or fewer hours. The report also indicates that people between the ages of 30 to 44 were most likely to be sleep deprived compared to other age groups (Medical Daily).

Working full time means you must give up your sanity and take on several health risks because you won’t get enough sleep. That’s great

Sleep deprivation is dangerous and workers who don’t get enough sleep are at an increased risk of injuries that could affect them or others around them, for example the CDC estimates that 20 percent of all car crashes are caused by drowsy driving. Previous studies have linked insufficient sleep to depression (Medical Daily).

Sleep is important and we as Americans must get more of it! Our body, mind and spirit need sleep or else we can’t function as an individual or a society. I found out a lot of useful information on sleep deprivation, some I already knew and some I didn’t know. I will take what I know now and apply it to my life.

References

1. America’s Growing Epidemic: Sleep Deprivation. SleepScore, 12 June 2018, www.sleepscore.com/americas-growing-epidemic-sleep-deprivation/.

2. CDC Newsroom. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html.

3. FNP, Kathleen Davis. Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment. Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 25 Jan. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/307334.php.

4. Hsu, Christine. Nearly a Third of Americans Are Sleep Deprived. Medical Daily, 27 Apr. 2012, www.medicaldaily.com/nearly-third-americans-are-sleep-deprived-240273.

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