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What are the real effects of sleep deprivation?

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As a mum of three, the youngest being less than 3 months old, I thought this blog would be timely information for anyone not getting a full nights sleep. Although (without wanting to sound too jammy) my little ones sleep well  I’m no stranger to sleep deprivation. Really, though, how many of us know the full effects sleep deprivation can have longer term?

One of the first experiments we know about is from 1959 where Peter Trip, a Radio DJ in New York, decided to stay awake continuously for over 200 hours for charity. Remarkably he made it through 200 hours but the medical experts who continued to test him found his thoughts became distorted and he began to have hallucinations. By the end of day 4 he was not able to recite the alphabet and became quite upset when he thought there were spiders crawling around his booth. It also appears that, towards the end of his experiment, he became suspicious and believed the doctors were part of a conspiracy and that one was an undertaker planning to bury him!

Sleep deprivation has been cited as at least a partial cause for some of the biggest disasters in recent history: the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in 1979, the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl.

Closer to home it’s a major cause of road accidents and accidents at work. There have been numerous studies which show attention span and mental performance are impaired by lack of sleep, and it has a cumulative effect. It doesn’t take a study to prove details go unchecked, oversights happen and lapses of attention occur. Fine if you are watching TV, not so fine negotiating a major contract!

Findings go further and, according to the NHS (and other studies) lack of sleep, and sleep disorders, increase your risk of (amongst other things) diabetes, heart disease, heart attack, stroke and can shorten your life expectancy. It can also age skin, makes you put on weight and be depressing. The less sleep you get, the more likely this is. Not great news!

The resolution? Get more sleep! On the off chance you have been partying way too hard, this might not be too difficult. Go to bed earlier and have a lie in. For those with little people, however, an uninterrupted nights’ sleep might seem an unobtainable dream. If your little ones could do with some persuasion to sleep better, without a midnight trip to your bed or multiple night wake ups, drop me an email ([email protected]) or give me a call (01275 546919) and I can help make your sleep dreams a reality!

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