Top-Rated Free Essay

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Powerful Essays
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, inability to focus, memory loss, the appearance of psychosis, and diagnosed mental disorders have been attributed to sleep deprivation. In the past, researchers believed that poor sleep was caused by psychiatric problems. However, recent research is showing that a lack of sleep is usually the catalyst of mental disorders. When the human body needs to concentrate or focus when it has not had enough sleep, it produces hormones adrenaline and cortisol in an attempt to engage and wake itself up. These hormones give the body a short-term boost in energy and they affect the body in much the same way that caffeine does. Once the boost in energy is finished, the body often “crashes” and a person returns to feeling tired; unable to concentrate or focus again. These hormones, again like caffeine, often make a person feel jittery of jumpy, which may impede concentration and focus. These hormones have also been directly linked to increase stress in the human body (Hart, 1985). Memory loss can also be a result of sleep deprivation. Memories are captured and recalled in the brain by a three-step process. The first step in creating memories is acquisition; where a person has their first experience with what will become the memory. The next is consolidation; which occurs while a person sleeps. In this step a memory becomes stable in a persons brain. Recall, the final step, is the ability to access the memory in the future. When the brain is denied the opportunity to stabilize a memory during sleep, a person is much less likely to retain the memory (Chang, 2011). Studies have also shown that students who study regularly and get a good night sleep before exams generally do better than students who “cram” the night before. The information that the student needs is better solidified in the brain and is ready for recall when the student needs to access the information (Sifferlin, Augu). Symptoms of psychosis have also been directly tied to sleep deprivation. In at least two documented cases, persons who went without sleep for extended periods of time showed symptoms similar to psychosis. In 1964 Randy Gardner attempted to gain entry into the Guiness Book of Work Records by staying awake for eleven days (264 hours). Gardner suffered a gamut of symptoms. Days two through five found Gardner unable to concentrate, irritable, unwilling to cooperate with others, and hallucinating. During days six through nine Gardner’s speech slowed, his irritability increased, and he began to have lapses in his memory. He often would begin sentences without finishing them and he had difficulty recalling the names of common objects. Paranoia began to set in on day ten. On day eleven, Gardner’s speech was slurred and without intonation. He seemed expressionless and had to be encouraged to talk or respond to someone talking to him (Ross, 1965). A similar story is told of Peter Tripp, a disk jockey from New York. In an effort to raise money for the March of Dimes, Tripp stayed awake for 200 hours. He showed many of the same symptoms that Gardner did. Tripp’s experience with sleep deprivation ended with him mistaking a doctor for an undertaker. He charged out of the room with doctors following close behind. Tripp’s mind could no longer determine what was real and what was not (Ross, 1965). With the aid of doctors, Randy Gardner was able to recover completely from his psychotic episode. He was monitored while he slept and eventually returned to normal sleep patterns and a normal state of mind. Peter Tripp, however, suffered from his self-inflicted psychotic break. For some time after his sleepless stunt he thought that he was an impostor of himself and complained of headaches and emotional instability.

Lack of sleep can also affect how people perform at their jobs. Routine and remedial tasks are often affected by a lack of sleep. Simple errors, such as spelling, grammatical, mathematical, or clerical errors are most often made due to a lack of sleep. These errors can either go unnoticed or can be corrected without significant consequence. More significant errors are also attributed to fatigue. Between 50,000 and 100,000 deaths each year are caused by preventable medical errors. Long shifts for doctors, interns, and nurses deny medical professionals sleep required for them to function a high levels. The nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the meltdown at Chernobyl, the grounding of the Exxon Valdez, and the explosion of space shuttle Challenger have all been linked to fatigue (Harris, Horne, 2000).

“Sleep deprivation is bad for your brain when you are trying to do high-level [thinking] tasks. It may have serious consequences both on performance and on the way your brain functions.” - J. Christian Gillin, M.D. (DeNoon, 2000) In research and in experience it has been proven that lack of sleep can have adverse effects on an individual’s physical health, mental health, and productivity. An individuals physical health is affected by sleep deprivation by an increased risk of death, cardiovascular problems, and issues with their immune system. A person’s mental health suffers as well from a lack of sleep. Memory loss, inability to concentrate or focus, and even psychotic episodes have been traced to sleep deprivation. Randy Gardner and Peter Tripp are prime examples of what happens to the brain when it goes without sleep. Poor job performance and errors ranging from insignificant to catastrophic have been linked to a lack of sleep. The amount of sleep needed for each individual is different. Where some people are able to function on very little sleep, others need many hours to fully restore and rejuvenate.

References
Coren, S. (1996). Sleep thieves : an eye-opening exploration into the mystery and science of sleep. New Yok, NY: Free Press Paperbacks.

Hart, A. (1985). Adrenaline and stress. United States: W Publishing Group.

Meier-Ewert , H., Ridker , P., Rifai, N., Regan, M., Price, N., Dinges, D., & Mullington, M. (2004, February 18). Effect of sleep loss on c-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker of cardiovascular risk.. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14975482

Mann, D. (2010, January 19). Can better sleep mean catching fewer colds?. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/immune-system-lack-of-sleep

Harrison Y, Horne J. 2000. The impact of sleep deprivation on decision making: A review. Retrieved from http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-performance-and-public-safety

Facts and stats. (2012). Retrieved from http://drowsydriving.org/about/facts-and-stats/

Ross, J. (1965). Neurological findings after prolonged sleep deprivation. Arch Neurol, 12, 399-403. Retrieved from http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/print/article/10168/54471?pageNumber=1&printable=true

Chang, L. (2011, March 18). Sleep deprivation and memory loss. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-deprivation-effects-on-memory?page=2

DeNoon, D. (2000, February 09). Lack of sleep takes toll on brain power. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20000209/lack-of-sleep-takes-toll-on-brain-power

Sifferlin, A. (Augu). Time healthland. Retrieved from http://healthland.time.com/2012/08/21/study-or-sleep-for-better-grades-students-should-go-to-bed-early/
EFFECTS OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION 1

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Sleep is an essential part of life. Without sleep, the body does not get the energy that it needs to function. Yet a large amount of people do not get anywhere near the amount of sleep they need. Whether it is because of medical reasons or because there just is not enough time in the day, sleep deprivation is a major problem in today's society. The many people who do not get enough sleep usually end up suffering the consequences. No good can come from not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation has…

    • 881 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    morning in order to wake up on time is more than likely, suffering from sleep deprivation. It is a problem that can cause harm to the body and personality. Some of the most common health issues a person will endure is cognitive deficiencies, hypertension and weight gain. It has even been argued that sleep deprivation can affect you just as much as being drunk. Unfortunately, with lack of sleep come many unwanted side effects, including impaired cognitive skills needed to function on a daily basis…

    • 450 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Effect of Sleep Deprivation What is sleep deprivation? Sleep deprivation is when a person does not get enough sleep. It mostly happens with teenagers. But there are also some adults who do not sleep enough either. It happens because of overthinking. It happens also if a person has a health problem that prevents him from getting enough sleep or cause poor quality of sleep. Each person should sleep between seven and eight hours per night. Sleeping is one of the most important…

    • 718 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Ronzo 3-24-15 Eng 101 Cynthia Dobbins Effects of sleep deprivation Sleep deprivation is a serious issue an estimated 50-70 million U.S. adults suffer from a sleep disorder. (CDC para.1) This is a problem that can effect anyone. Getting a good night’s rest is very important to having a productive day, not getting enough sleep is a lot like wasting a day. There have been a countless number of studies on sleep deprivation to back up the fact that getting enough sleep every night is a fundamental necessity…

    • 824 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Running header: Sleep deprivation University of Buffalo (SIM) (UB- SIM) Sleep Deprivation and its Effects Focusing on Effects on: Health, Performance and Cognitive Functions Tan Jing Wen Marius Tan Li Xuan Rayna Tan Mei Yu Teo Zi Wei Cheryl 16 Nov 2012 Abstract This paper is on the effects of sleep deprivation. The central research question of this paper is: What are the effects, according to recent literature, of sleep deprivation on someone’s health, performance…

    • 2630 Words
    • 11 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    have shown that the optimum amount of sleep a person should get each night is seven to eight hours. Many people have trouble getting this amount of sleep. Between work, family obligations, and household chores, too often a person gets only a few hours of sleep a night. What effect does sleep deprivation have on people? Sleep deprivation has a definite effect on learning, memory, and the ability to think clearly. If a person is not able to get a full night's sleep after learning something new, he will…

    • 551 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    EFFECTS OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION What is sleep? Is it just the period of time in which you rest? Is it nothing more than that? Sleep is a physical and mental state of rest in which a person becomes moderately inactive and unaware of the environment. Although our bodies are a picture of tranquility while we sleep, there are a numerous biochemical, physiological, and psychological events constantly taking place which we do not know about. There is an alarming lack of awareness about sleep in the medical…

    • 449 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The effects of Sleep Deprivation What is Sleep Deprivation? Physiological Effects 2.1 Diabetes 2.2 Effects on the Brain 2.3 Effects on the healing process 2.4 Attention and working memory 2.5 Impairment of ability. 2.6 Microsleeps 2.7 Weight gain/loss Sleep apnea Mental illness School Counteracting the effects of sleep deprivation Longest period without sleep Main Body Discussion How does sleep deprivation affect Your Mental and Physical Health? How to Recover from missed…

    • 6543 Words
    • 27 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    physiological process that sleep deprivation can affect is the plasticity of the hippocampus. When applied in stressful environments, the amount of glucocorticoid production increases (McEwen, 1999). This increase in stress hormones correlates to the atrophy or the shrinkage of the hippocampal region. While this correlation is strongly related, other factors do in fact play a part in hippocampal atrophy. For example, the amount of dentate gyrus neurons in the brain could also have an effect on the rate or induction…

    • 2205 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Joey Hernandez Boston ENGL 1301.6020 2 November 2012 The most beautiful thing on the earth… Sleep. Procrastination, the biggest downfall of the students across the educational world, many people joke on the subject, such as high schools throughout America claim to have a “procrastinators unite club” the joke being that the club is always uniting tomorrow. Every student has procrastinated at one point in their studies, whether it is last minute cramming for a big test or writing an explanatory…

    • 1066 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays