Believing that they can handle important decisions and tasks, when in fact, they are not, this is one of the most dangerous aspects of sleepiness. When sleep deprived, people often misjudge their state of mind and abilities. Sleep loss causes accidents. Over time, people who regularly get 6 hours or less of sleep will find their reaction time has slowed – to a quarter of a second to almost 4 seconds. That’s enough time to run off the road, hit someone with a forklift, run a red light, or be able to get yourself or others out of harm’s way. They don’t just call it split-second decision for nothing because sometimes it’s all you get, but if you’re tired it’s harder to make a split second life-saving decision.
Lack of sleep impairs your ability to make a right decision. Reducing your night time’s sleep by one and a half hours for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 30%. Almost every big disaster in recent history has involved sleep loss – oil spills, car accidents, and many train and plane crashes are linked to sleep deprivation.
Out on the road, sleep loss is an enormous public safety hazard. In one study, one-third of the drivers are reported falling asleep at the wheel in one year. In the United States, drowsy drivers cause half a million crashes, 100,000 injuries, and 1,600 deaths every year.
Studies showed that sleep loss and poor quality sleep would cause accidents and injuries in the job. Workers who experience excessive daytime sleepiness has significantly more work accidents, particularly repeated work accidents. They also get more sick days per accident. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep doubles the chance of an involved work injury.
Lack of adequate sleep not only makes it harder to concentrate on work, but it can also distort your ability to see hazards, make you less alert and it interferes with your ability to think critically about problems you encounter throughout your day.
Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Since lack of sleep affects your ability to pay attention, your alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem-solving – it makes it harder to learn and to think clearly. Lack of sleep impairs your judgment and your interpretation of events. This makes it more difficult to apply your training and experience, access situations accurately, and act on them correctly.
Want to live longer and healthier? Of course, we do! Those who cut their sleep from 7 – 5 hours or fewer a night, doubles their risk of death from all causes. In particular, lack of sleep increases the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. So be sure to sleep at least 7 hours per night. Don’t make it shorter than that, or else, you might regret it someday.
Ethan Wright is a health enthusiast who believes every great day begins with a good night sleep. He is currently a researcher and writer for Bedding Stock, an online retailer of gel memory foam mattress in the USA. When not wearing his writing hat, you will see him traveling to places with his journal.