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The Importance of Sleep

By colldoll7 Dec 02, 2012 854 Words
Essay 3: Human Sleep

Modern life is full of busy things we do, but we all can agree that sleep is one of our

favorite things to do. Almost every person would love to spend a whole day in bed. But

in our time people choose staying up late and wake up early. There are just too many

things to do, appointments, deadlines, and the rest of the world does not go off of our

own schedule. Therefore, the majority of the population of the United States is sleep

deprived. Although the research on human sleep is very complex, experts do seem to

agree on a few basic facts and concerns These include, the feeling of being tired and

needing sleep is a basic drive of nature, like hunger, several sleep disorders are

characterized by very severe and impairing daytime sleepiness, older children never feel

sleepy during the day, and “sleep debt” is defined as a loss of sleep and is like debt

because you have to pay/sleep if back eventually to get back to normal cycle” (Dement

and Vaughan, 334). When it comes to individual sources, William C. Dement and

Christopher Vaughan were primarily concerned with peoples ignorance and unknown

information on Sleep Debt, Alcohol & Sleep Debt, and lastly Driving under the influence

of Sleep Debt. Ultimately, in my view, the most important and most interesting insights

to emerge are

In the article, “Sleep Debt and the Mortgaged Mind,” William C. Dement and

Christopher Vaughan describe how ignorance of sleep deprivation has led to major

accidents and mishaps around the world. Dement and Vaughan call sleep deprivation

“sleep debt.” they also use the metaphor “mortgaged mind” to help convey the central

message that sleep debt is like debt. According to their experiments, accumulated lost

sleep is like a mortgage, it must be paid back, and there is always a lender. They also

refer to sleep debt as “natures loan shark”, just as loan shark could hurt us to get his

money back, sleep deprivation could affect our health if the debt is not paid back on time.

(Dement and Vaughan, 331).

The two authors begin by describing the Exxon Valdez incident and the

Challenger space shuttle accident. Both prime examples of our ignorance of sleep

deprivation. Even to this day, many people still believe that the reason the tanker was

beached is because of alcohol consumption by the captain, when in fact, the cause of the

crude oil spill was from the captain being extremely sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation

also played a crucial role in the Challenger explosion. Although technical complications

were the main reason behind the explosion, the managers at NASA were at fault because

their job requires them to give up sleep. The authors think everyone should act on the

issue of being drowsy before more accidents happen.

Dement and Vaughan criticize educational organizations for not teaching students

about sleep and sleep deprivation issues. They compare sleep to hunger: If you don’t fill

your appetite until your satisfied, you will remain hungry. If you don’t get an adequate

amount of sleep, you will start to rack up sleep debt. If a person tries to ignore sleeping,

the brain will eventually push the body to dive into the sleep state. Supposedly, every

hour of sleep lost has to be paid back eventually. For example, if you lose five hours of

sleep one night, you have to sleep thirteen hours the next night in order to regain those

lost hours of sleep. However, if you sleep a couple extra hours over the average eight

hours needed every night you will become even more tired. Researchers have used the

“Multiple Sleep Latency Test” to measure how long it takes an individual to fall asleep.

Most individuals fell asleep after one to five minutes but had interruptions every ten to

fifteen minutes. All in all people need to recognize how much sleep they are losing. The

authors stress that everyone needs to know the negative outcomes of sleep debt. They use

an example of a friend who was a professor at Stanford University. The friend was in a

bike race, and he did not get much rest for two nights. He felt rested the morning he woke

up to drive home, but he started falling asleep while driving down the mountain. The car

went over a ledge, and he managed to walk away with only some cuts and a paralyzed

arm. Dement and Vaughan conducted a study to test if older children get tired during the

day. The children were not tired, which meant that if someone is tired during the day then

that person has sleep debt. Another research project was conducted to test the links

between alcohol and sleep deprivation while on the road. Sleep debt is an important

aspect of almost every road accident with alcohol involved, the authors want to inform

the readers that everyone could have some sort of sleep debt even if they are unaware.

They suggest going to bed early instead of staying up late. The mind and body would feel

rejuvenated if done so.

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