No matter how often experts remind us about the dangers of sleep deprivation, many of us continue to make sleep a low priority. Little do many people realize that failing to get enough sleep impairs energy, mood, cognitive performance, and overall health.
A study published in the journal SLEEP found that the cost of sleep deprivation on the economy adds up to billions of dollars each year. It’s not that those who are sleep-deprived don’t go to work – they do – however their work performance is severely compromised. In fact, losing just one night’s sleep reduces cognitive capacity to the same level as moderate alcohol intoxication.
Recently, TIME magazine published an article about the most sleep-deprived occupations. Starting with the most sleep-deprived, their results were as follows…
- Home Health Aides
- Police Officers
- Physicians, Paramedics
- Social Workers
- Computer Programmers
- Financial Analysts
- Plant Operators
If you work in one of these occupations, or any other occupation where you find that your work life gets in the way of sleep, you may want to remember that “sleep debt” is difficult to pay back. Sleep debt refers to the accumulation of lost sleep over time and is simply a matter of balance: the amount of sleep lost equals the amount that must be gained in order to avoid potential consequences of sleep deprivation. As sleep debt grows larger, it becomes nearly impossible to pay back, and normally cannot be recovered in a weekend sleep-in.
There is no doubt that it can be tough to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night when we live in a 24/7 society that’s full of distractions and high-pressure environments. Why not challenge yourself to making sleep a top priority? The rewards will be evident in your productivity, energy, mood, and overall sense of well-being.