Effects of Sleep Deprivation

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Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Darren Montgomery || 000249114
QBT 1 Task 5
WGU || Mentor: DeeDee Hessler

When Thomas Edison set out to create the light bulb, his intention was to reduce the amount of time that people spent sleeping. His idea was that if people had light to work by they could and would work longer hours. In his mind, sleep was something that was not needed and stood opposed to progress (Coren, 1996).

“Anything which tends to slow work down is a waste. We are always hearing people talk about ‘loss of sleep’ as a calamity. They better call it loss of time, vitality, and opportunity.”
-Thomas Edison
Even great minds, like Edison’s, can be wrong at times. Some researchers argue that had Edison spent more time sleeping it would not have taken him more than 1000 attempts to create his light bulb. Research has shown that lack of sleep can have adverse effects on an individual’s physical health, mental health, and productivity. The information presented in this paper will address the importance of sleep in human health, safety, and productivity. First, some physical issues attributed to sleep deprivation will be discussed. Next, mental problems linked to lack of sleep with be outlined with documented cases. Lastly, examples of errors and disasters that have been tied to sleep deprivation will be presented.

There are many physical issues that are linked to sleep deprivation. Cardiovascular problems and greater risk of death have been tied to lack of sleep. The human body requires sleep to restore and repair itself. When the body does not get the rest it requires the consequences can be quite unfortunate.

Poor sleep has been shown to increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, and heart attack. The human liver produces a protein called “C-reactive protein” that is used by the body to aid in response to inflammation, injury, or infection and is removed by the body when the inflammation, injury, or infection is gone or heals. This protein binds to damaged cells, as well as some bacteria, to aid in removing them from the body. This allows the body to heal.

One study showed that over a period of five days during which a subject was denied sleep, the C-reactive protein builds up in blood at a steady and significant rate. Sleeping allows the body time to process and remove these proteins. An increase of these proteins can at times lead to heart attack, stroke, or high blood pressure (Meier-Ewert , Ridker , Rifai, Regan, Price, Dinges & Mullington, 2004).

The body is able to restore itself and heal when given between six and eight hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. While a person sleeps the immune system is working to restore and revive the body. When the human body is not granted enough sleep, the immune system is not able to fully complete the task of taking care of and healing the body.

Lack of sleep can also cause the number of T-cells to decline in the human body. T-cells aid in immunity and assist other cells in their functions. Lower T-cell levels mean that the body is less able to fight off infection, subdue inflammation, or heal an injury (Mann, 2010). When the body is unable to heal itself, there is greater risk of death.

Sleep deprivation can also lead to an increase of stress, which has been linked to heart disease, obesity, depression, gastrointestinal issues, as well as mental heath issues. Allowing the body to rest and rejuvenate during sleep helps ensure that many physical issues associated with the lack of sleep can be avoided.

Another way that lack of sleep increases the chance of early death is in traffic accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives a conservative estimate that 100,000 reported crashes per year are a result of a fatigued driver ("Facts and stats" 2012).

Mental illness has also been linked to lack of sleep. Issues ranging from poor concentration,...
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