Ask Dr. Joy: Sleepless in Peoria part 1

By WEEK Producer

September 18, 2013 Updated Sep 18, 2013 at 6:57 PM CDT

We are becoming a nation of restless sleepers. A 2011 study showed that 35 percent of Americans get less than the recommended number of hours of sleep each night and sleep deprivation is becoming the norm.

We will be investigating “Sleepless in Peoria” in a two-part segment.

What are some of the statistics related to sleeplessness?
• AAA discovered that 40 percent of respondents said they have “nodded” off or fallen asleep at the wheel at least once
• 25 percent of respondents said have driven and were so sleepy they could not keep their eyes open in the last month
• Drowsy drivers create over 6,000 fatalities each year.

What can sleep loss do to our body?
• Cognitive impairments
• Immune system disruptions
• Weight gain
• Heart disease
• Reduce fertility
• Cancer
• Effects inflammation, diabetes, and stress

You mentioned that sleep deprivation affects our mental capacity, what do studies show?
• Those who get less than 8 hours of sleep tend to decline in cognitive functioning over time
• 14 days of sleeping 4-6 hours per night report feeling only slightly drowsy and are chronically sleep deprived and unable to accurately gauge their own sleep deprivation
• Lack of awareness of sleep deprivation can be alarming when it relates to professionals with long hours such as traffic controllers, physicians, flight attendants/pilots and manufacturers.

Next week we will focus on some ways to put your sleep back in the right cycle.

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