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Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Essay by   •  March 23, 2012  •  Essay  •  1,367 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,341 Views

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Effects of Sleep Depravation

Sleep is an essential part of daily life. Without sleep the body does not get the adequate amount of energy needed in order to function properly. Today many do not get enough sleep at night, whether it is for medical reasons or there just aren't enough hours in the day. This has become a major concern in today's society, for it can have many negative effects on the body. Sleep deprivation can lead to a decline in a person's performance, change in emotional stability, and can cause health problems.

During certain phases of sleep the body and brain restore and heal themselves. The best time for this work is before midnight, so those who have an early bed time have an advantage. While a person sleeps, the body corrects chemical imbalances, assures proper blood sugar levels for the next day and the brain mulls over information from the day before. The brain then files it away deciding what is important and what is not. Recognizing connections the brain matches old memories with new ones, laying down those worth keeping while dismissing ones that are not crucial to a person's daily life.

The amount of sleep an individual needs varies from person to person; adults generally need around seven to nine hours of sleep each night, teens ranging from ages ten to seventeen need about eight and a half to nine hours of sleep, while younger individuals needing ten to eleven hours. According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, nearly thirty percent of adults reported only receiving an average of six hours of sleep per day (Center for Disease Control 3). When not receiving the adequate amount of sleep a person begins to develop what's known as sleep debt, which is an accumulation of the amount of sleep loss. If one continues to not get the daily sleep requirements, sleep debt will continue to increase thus affecting a person's daily functions.

Sometimes when a person is tired, they don't always feel it clearly. A person needs to learn to recognize signs telling the body it needs sleep otherwise performance of the body decreases. It can disturb a person's vigilance level, reasoning mind, and the ability of the brain to solve problems. When tired the brain loses the ability to focus and concentrate properly, this then weakens memory making it difficult to retain information. Making proper decisions and being alert become more difficult because a person is unable to think clearly and assess situations properly resulting in actions that might not normally be done if well rested (Peri 1). In a situation such as driving a car this can, and has repeatedly, lead to fatal results. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at least 100,000 crashes reported each year are due to driver fatigue with nearly one-third reporting they nodded off while driving (Peri 2). With the brain not being rested a person's reaction time is slowed to dangerous levels.

It is also not uncommon for sleep-deprived individuals to be subject to extreme emotions and mood swings as well. According to a new study done by researcher Matthew Walker, sleep deprivation is linked to a disconnection in part of the brain that's responsible for keeping emotions under control (Warner). Walker states that "without sleep, the brain reverts back to more primitive patterns of activity and is unable to put emotional experiences into context and produce controlled responses" (Warner). So a very tired person who is laughing uncontrollably one moment may be crying or yelling angrily a few minutes later. Things that normally don't bother a person can turn into something really upsetting when they have not had enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation calls these individuals "walking tired" and these people are more likely to quarrel with others and less likely to exercise, eat healthfully, and engage in leisure activities because of sleepiness (Peri 2)

Sleep deprivation does not only affect ones emotions, it can also cause health problems as well. When a person's body is searching for some kind of energy source to maintain proper function it loses focus on other things.

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