Sleep Deprivation: Dangerous Minds

Caution is well established about the dangers of drinking and driving. Drug use prior to driving often results in accidents and arrests. Sleep deprivation, however, is rarely taken seriously. Busy schedules dictate the loss of sleep for many students, parents, and business professionals. The dangers of sleep deprivation go far beyond simply falling asleep. There can be severe health ramifications.


Humans may vary in the amount of sleep necessary to thrive. Genetic factors determine the tolerance level of less sleep in some individuals. The magic number for optimal performance is somewhere in the range from six to nine hours. To determine your personal sleep necessity, check time spent asleep on a normal day. An alarm should not be set, as you want your body to naturally respond to wake cycles. Record sleep habits over several days to find the average. Once this has been discovered, adjust your schedule to fit your genetic preference.


College students tend to attempt all night study sessions in preparation for tests. This age group may seem to have a better handle on sleep deprivations, however, studies report many negative physical symptoms present when sleep is denied. Sleep deprivation can result in high blood pressure. Long term sleep deprivation takes high blood pressure to the next level. This can increase the risk of stroke and heart complications. The human body cannot perform properly when it has not been refueled by rest.

Weight gain is another common factor in those that lose sleep on a regular basis. When the body is under stress it cannot handle basic functions in a normal way. The hormone responsible for hunger, ghrelin, increases when sleep decreases. Leptin levels decrease, making the body unable to accurately discern the amount of stored fat. When these two hormones fall out of balance, significant weight gain can occur.

Threat to the Public

One of the biggest problems surrounding sleep deprivation is the increase in car accidents. Drivers may suddenly fall asleep may begin to hallucinate. The results are similar to that of a drunk driver. Sleep deprivation can cause wrecks involving fatalities of all parties involved. Research has revealed an alarming percentage of drivers that admit to falling asleep while operating a motor vehicle. Unsuspecting motorists may fall prey to sleep deprived individuals.


Cognitive abilities make a sharp decline when sleep is restricted.  Symptoms similar to anxiety and depression can easily take over, rendering an individual unable to function properly. Resulting hallucinations, mimic schizophrenia and other psychotic behaviors in extreme cases. Less severe cases may cause temporary irritability and cause people to become easily angered. These cognitive difficulties are caused by the inability of neurotransmitters to act normally after losing sleep. Mental illness symptoms are common in sleep deprived individuals, especially those that suffer long term.

Sleep is a necessary part of the body’s regimen. Every function your body carries out is dependent on proper fuel from rest and nutrition. Sleep deprivation is a dangerous activity that can cause accidents and mental instability. Heart issues, strokes, and weight abnormalities may all stem from poor rest. Genetic disposition indicates how much sleep a person needs to function well. Even one night of missed sleep can cause concerning complications in the rhythm of the human body.


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