Some Call Sleep Deprivation 'The New Smoking'

Did you just crack open another energy drink? Need a trucker's helping of coffee just to get through your afternoon? You're not the only one who feels that way. According to Pinncol Assurance -- Colorado's local and largest workers' compensation insurance provider -- reports that 30 to 40 percent of the entire U.S. workforce suffers from sleep deprivation, and that's not good for anybody.
To better understand the issue, let's take a look at what sleep deprivation can do to the body. Sleepfoundation.org states that being awake for 18 hours straight has a similar effect of a blood-alcohol-level of .05. If you're awake for 24 hours straight, that's the equivalent of a blo0d-alcohol-level of .10. "When you’re not getting enough sleep your reaction time slows down, you don’t make decisions as quickly as if you had gotten enough sleep," says Pinnacol Assurance safety consultant, Ellen Sarvay. Prolonged sleep deprivation can also lead to more serious long-term effects like "tremendous emotional problems," at least according to Dr. Steven Feinsilver, the director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. He's talking, of course, about exacerbated states of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Which makes me think that maybe improving mental health in this country should begin in bed? Other common symptoms include memory issues, mood changes, malaise, confusion, high blood pressure, weight gain or weight loss. And all of this is dangerous for workers and employers. Famous accidents that experts claim are partially the result of sleep deprivation include the Chernobyl incident, the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown, the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle explosion, and the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, just to name a few. So what can you do? Well, everybody should make a good night's sleep a priority, but beyond that, your employer can take a few steps, too, like encouraging workers not to answer e-mails, or work when they get home. They can also allow short naps at work and provide a space to do so -- especially for shift workers. "I’ve even heard of companies that even talk about when folks go on vacation they don’t let them get emails," Sarvay adds. Of course, if you have trouble sleeping or suffer from any of the aforementioned symptoms it's always wise to consult your doctor. What are your thoughts? Do you feel sleep deprived? If so, have you noticed how it has affected your mood or work performance? Let us know in the comments below!

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