12 December 2015
Sleep Deprived Us
Americans fight off numerous epidemics per year from the common cold and influenza to depression and anxiety, and the list goes on and on. There's one epidemic that is lesser known, but can cause ongoing damage if not properly treated, which is sleep deprivation. According to the National Institute of Health, 50- 70 million U.S. adults have sleep disorders (Colten and Altevogt). With numerous dangerous side effects as a result of sleep deprivation, it must become a nightly priority across the country to get a full 8 hours of rest. Although the solution of getting more sleep sounds simple, it turns out that it is in fact not. But before jumping into the solution, it is important to understand why it is crucial for everyone to get rest and what American's are doing wrong that is preventing them from getting the full night's rest that the human body so desperately needs.
Sleep is necessary for maintaining a healthy life style for all age groups. Starting at infancy, the behavior exuded from a sleep deprived infant can turn a household upside down within 24 hours of constant fussing. Infants and children do most of their growing and recovering from the hardships of the day while asleep, which takes a tremendous amount of energy in itself. Should a child become unable to reach a full level of rest during their designated sleep times, the result will almost inevitably be a fussy baby which becomes irritable during wake times, a mood that tends to carry on throughout the day. Toddlers are perfect examples of how important sleep is, as their tantrums and outburst are most commonly associated with lack of sleep. A happy toddler rarely skips a nap or has sleepless nights. Because children at this age are unable to clearly communicate what they need, the importance for parents to be in tune with their sleep habits are crucial.
Creating healthy habits for infants and toddlers is key because as a child progresses the effects of sleep deprivation become worse than the typical cranky- wake periods. Children that are not receiving enough sleep are more likely to have long term behavioral issues (Maski). Although there are plenty of studies supporting this theory, the logic is not hard to understand. A sleep deprived child will have a harder time staying focused in class due to fatigue, resulting in missed information required in schooling. Not to mention the irritability of a child that has not had enough sleep is not one a teacher with a class of 30 has adequate time to give attention to. These children are often labeled ADHD, understandably so. Another area of concern is that youth that is sleep deprived is likely to show a higher level of aggression, and frustration. Helping our youth understand the importance of sleep is as valuable as teaching them not to hit, because with lack of sleep comes the inability to reason due to fatigue.
Progressing on, a study done in 2015 found that 18.9% of teens suffer from sleep deprivation, and the physical ailments common among this age group was dizziness, neck pain and fatigue (Paiva, Gaspar and Matos). This is huge when realized that these teens are merely a few years away from becoming the adults that will then carry over the same poor sleep habits. Even worse, that number will grow as adults face more stresses, such as higher demanding jobs, marriage stresses, and children. All of these factors will only further prevent sleep.
So why is it so important for adults to get a full nights rest? It can be seen by following the day of a sleep deprived adult. Typically there is a commute from home to work, work to lunch and back, and then work to home. If the commute is driven by a sleep deprived individual, the community is subject to a faulty fatigued driver on numerous occasions throughout the day. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013 (Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel). 800 deaths per year that can be prevented by getting the hours recommended each night to just sleep.
Continuing on in the day of a sleep deprived individual does not get any better. Irritability is an ongoing theme; lash outs to spouses and children are common causing the at-home life to be a stressed one for all in the family.
Sleep is so crucial that new parents are now required to watch a series of short videos prior to leaving the hospital postpartum. This is because as new parents with minimal sleep, without the proper training, are likely to become dangerous to themselves or their new baby. Parents that have poor sleep habits such as staying up late and sleeping in, falling asleep to the T.V., or playing games on their phones or tablets in bed, will pass down those poor habits to their children, and so the circle continues.
When considering the need for sleep in regards to adults, it is important to note that some careers have higher stresses and thus the need for rest is even more important. For instance, a sleep deprived police officer, nurse, or fireman is not ideal for the public safety. With the running theme of irritability as a side effect, in the hands of an officer of the law, it is easy to see how a tough situation can turn into a tragic one. Nurses that run 24 hours shifts are required to make important decisions on minimal to no sleep, which can easily increase poor decision making and errors. This is not to say that all police and nurses that are sleep deprived will make incorrect calls when it comes to critical thinking, but is it worth the risk?
Army vets that suffer PTSD are amongst a group of people that must be making sleep a priority as much as therapy. Vets are more likely to struggle with difficult situations when sleep deprivation is prevalent (Short, Babson and Schmidt), tacking on PTSD only exasperates the situation and makes it more difficult for positive daily choices.
Truck drivers are being pushed more and more to drive heavier loads that require critical decisions while running on longer hours. The results are catastrophic and a danger to all on the road. If a truck company ensures its employees are permitted the time to sleep a healthy amount, the collision rate our country sees per year could dramatically reduce. This is ironic in the drivers are working long hours to bring in so much money, when in fact the potential accident cost could result in a lost job due to negligence. It begins with the company encouraging their drivers to do the right thing.
To figure out why sleep deprivation is prevalent in a lifestyle it is important to realize that everyone's schedule is different. To better asses common situations assume that the truck driver, the preteen, the stay at home mother, can all receive the allotted time of 8 hours to sleep, and are still unable to. Why? This can be narrowed down to one of two reasons: poor sleep habits developed do not allow the mind to settle to a restful period, or the body is not producing enough of the chemical melatonin to allow the person to allow the mind to reach restfulness.
Preparing the body for bed is as important as the bed itself. Social media, television, and video games are how many people begin falling into sleepiness but in reality, it does the opposite. The numerous electronic devises actually encourage wakefulness and prevent the mind from slowing down to prepare for bed with the bright light, the sounds, and the pop-ups. Taking in new information on a computer or T.V. promotes the mind to continue working. By entering a routine nighty such as brushing teeth, turning out lights, and reflecting upon a day, the body begins to recognize that the shutting down process is beginning, making it easier to fall into a sleep. Laying in a dark room rather than a dim room, is also known to help stay in a deep sleep. Caffeine or alcohol prior to bed or even in the evening hours can put a damper in falling into a deep sleep as heart rate is increased.
Although electronic devises are strongly discouraged, soft music and sleep tracking devices are not. By linking to brainwaves, music can actually help people stay in a deep sleep for longer by assisting the mind to fall into a more peaceful state. Radio apps such as iHeartradio and Pandora now offer music stations that include songs designated to do just that. If someone is unsure if their session was quality sleep, trackers such as Fitbits monitor the movements during sleep. Allowing people to see that there's room for improvement, even within sleep.
More expensive measure can also be taken to ensure a good night's rest, such as purchasing a bed, pillows, or sheets that are high in quality. Chronic back pain can wake even the most deep sleeper and with the help of a pricier bed, one could avoid that issue altogether.
For information on preparing the mind and body for bed, there are also self- help books that lead the struggling sleepers to full restfulness. These books are extremely helpful in finding the underlining reason for wakefulness and how to best treat it.
Aside from taking the appropriate steps prepare for bed and create a positive sleeping environment, natural sleep aids are available over the counter which provide melatonin, the chemical needed to induce sleep, however, some can be habit forming and could potentially cause more damage than help. The over the counter side drug effects should be considered and weighed heavily by each individual.
Thus one could still find themselves still unable to achieve sleep. Anxiety disorder, insomnia, and a number of other conditions can prevent a person from getting the 7- 8 hours needed. After keeping a sleeping log, it is wise to review the results with a doctor to conclude a diagnosis and ensure a plan of action is made. Doctors take the matter seriously because, as mentioned earlier, the side effects of sleep deprivation for all age groups, can be catastrophic. The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine notes that sleep deprivation causes stress, interferes with learning and concentration, can inhibit weight loss, and can increase the effects of alcohol.
For people that are unable to find the allotted time to get 8 hours due to over packed schedules should consider what in their busy schedules can be removed to ensure they are allowing themselves the time. If considered, the best question to ask is, are all activities in the schedule being completed to satisfaction? There is a good chance that more than not, the answer is no, because focus is minimal when sleep deprived due to fatigue. Quality time over quantity with friends and family, with work, and with personal time, should be considered when making time to sleep.
Parents that are not getting enough sleep due to children struggling to sleep are recommended to provide as much support as possible to their partner and to give it as well. If a partner is not available, a parent is encouraged to reach out to friends and family as needed for help. There are parenting hotlines and magazines that provide information on how to get support for unique situations. All of these outlets are provided because of the importance of sleep.
It is amazing how much sleep can help the human body in a number of ways, and yet, the lack of sleep can put us at danger daily, with all of this information, it is hard to understand why Americans would not make it a priority. With crucial conversations happening everyday it is imperative that our minds are well rested, able and ready to have these conversations, from children learning in the class room, to nurses making the correct medical calls, to the truck driver making the long haul on a long highway, a fatigued mind is not ideal. The support is out there to help people achieve restful sleeping periods, from self- help, to medical help, everyone should be striving to get the full 8 hours of rest.
Alic, Margaret. "Sleep Deprivation." Longe, Jacqueline L. The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. 5th. Vol. 7. Farmington Hills: Gale, 2015. 4668-4673. Web. 21 November 2015.
Colten, R Harvey and Bruce M Altevogt. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington (DC), 2006. Web. 22 November 2015.
Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel. 5 November 2015. Web. 27 November 2015.
Knutson, Kristen L., et al. "The Metabolic Consequences of Sleep Deprivation." Sleep Medicine Reviews 11.3 (2007): 163-78. Web. 20 November 2015.
Maski, Kiran P., Kothare, Sanjeev V. "Sleep Deprivation and Neurobehavioral Functioning in Children." International Journal of Psychophysiology (2013): 259-64. Web. 22 November 2015.
Paiva, Teresa, Tania Gaspar and Margarida G. Matos. "Sleep Depriviation in Adolescents: Correlations with Health Complaints and Health-related Quality of Life." Sleep medicine (2015): 521-27. Web. 22 November 2015.
Short, Nicole A., et al. "Sleep and Affective Functioning: Examining the Association between Sleep Quality and Distress Tolerance amount Veterans." Personality and Individual Differences 90 (2016): 247-53. Web. 19 November 2015.
Sloan, Eileen P. "Sleep Deprivation and Postpartum Mental Health: Case Report." Archives of Women's Mental Health (2011): 509+. Web. 22 November 2015.
3 Areas of Weakness
1. I think my paper lacks actual examples. I did give common examples, but I think I could use more actual incidents, especially because I have them. This will also add length to my paper which is currently too short.
2. I think my paragraphs at times are less academic and more casual. I'll need to give them a stronger feel once I have added examples.
3. My paper is needing better transitions for each paragraph. They are okay now, but it is easy to lose direction.
Megan, after reading your paper, I agree with your own criticism which left me wondering,
if you knew what was wrong in your essay, why didn't you take action?
Anyhow, adding examples will indeed boost your facts and the strength of your paper,
but don't just add examples, make sure that they are base on facts, this is where your research come to place.
The length of the research paper, although suggested ones say it should be long but it doesn't really matter,
what matters is the content of your essay and the facts you present.
Structure wise, you tend to jump from one idea to the other, I believe you can re- direct your essay by
highlighting the logical functions or progress of your research, like following the cause - effect way.
Better yet, answer the questions, how does sleep help us function in our daily lives, how does sleep
affect our mental state, questions like this, citing cause and effect will help your essay have that
logical and smooth transition.
I hope my remarks helped and do let us know should you need further assistance.