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The Epidemic of Chronic Partial Sleep Deprivation

Doctors Ron Chervin and Louise O'Brien discuss research about the impact of sleep on our quality of life, our productivity, happiness, and our health.
Hi, I am doctor Ron Chervin. I direct the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center where I am a Professor of Neurology. And I am pleased to introduce my colleague, Louise O’Brien. Hi, I’m Doctor Louise O’Brien. I’m a research associate professor in the Sleep Disorders Center, the department of Neurology. I’m also a research associate professor in the department for obstetrics and gynecology, and a research associate scientist in the department of oral maxillary facial surgery. And we’ve been working together for about 11 years at the sleep disorder center.
And I think we originally met actually a year or two before that at a convention for sleep researchers where we realized we share a passionate interest in what sleep disorders do the brains thinking and behavior of children. And we’ve been working on that type of research ever since, as well as expanding into other related areas. Absolutely, so we know that sleep is just so important and yet while we’re always told about the importance of a good diet, staying hydrated, and plenty of exercise, nobody really tells us about the importance of sleep Why do you think that is? Well, that is a great question, and honestly I’ll tell you, I don’t know what’s the chicken and what’s the egg.
What I do know is that there is an attitude in society that’s highly prevalent. And that attitude is that sleep is essentially a sponge that’s infinitely compressible. So we can put in time for work for staying late at the office, for that late night soccer game with the lights on. With an early morning swim practice, with a party that goes to all hours, these were all important things, work, social life, exercise. But people always assume that sleep is so spongy that you can always make it up later.
And it’s a real problem because we now have more and more evidence that sleep loss both acutely and it specially when it’s chronic, a little bit of sleep loss over many nights has very serious consequences for our health for our brain function, for our happiness. And I don’t know whether it’s that people don’t know that and that’s why it’s not taught more often, or it’s not taught more often and that’s why this attitude develops. » So how do we know that sleep deprivation has really reached epidemic proportions in society? And how does that affect different professions? Well, there is some fairly good data on that now, and people can look at the infographic that’s on the screen.
[Infographic named Little Sleep, Big Cost]And this is from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Healthy Sleep Awareness project in partnership with the CDC. But what it shows is, first of all is that about 3 in 10 working adults report that they sleep 6 hours or less in a 24 hour period. Now we know that 7 or more hours and often 7 to 9 hours are recommended for adults. So this is a huge portion of the population that is essentially sleep deprived. And we do know that that problem is more challenging within certain professions.
So if you look at the next panel on the infographic, on the top right there, the transportation and warehousing industry has people working in it where about 70% of the people are getting too little sleep at night. If you look at some of these other areas in which many people work, they’re also quite a bit sleep deprived. If you look at the rest of the infographic you’ll see not only what consequences may be, but what some of the signs for sleep deprivation can be. [Infographic named Sleep Recharges You]If you look at the next infographic, this shows what, potentially are some of the benefits that you can experience if you’re able to get more sleep.
First of all, you might look better. Now this infographic mas made to appeal towards teens especially, but I think it applies to everyone. You can actually look better, people see that you look more well-rested. You perform better, you’ll feel better inside and that’ll affect your mood in a positive way. You’ll be able to learn more, as we mentioned, your brain will work better if you’ve had adequate sleep. And finally, we think you’ll have more fun in your daily life. So can you tell us a little bit about what to benefit to society as a whole be if we really worked hard to combat this sleep deprivation epidemic? » Well that is a great question.
People estimate that billions of dollars in economic activity, for example, would be realized. And we would have such a huge amount of improvement if we did succeed to obtain better sleep, of good quality and good duration. It’s interesting because few other interventions that we could make could have such inexpensive and cost effective impact on our quality of life, our productivity, happiness, and our health.
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Sleep Deprivation: Habits, Solutions and Strategies Teach-Out

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