The Risks of Chronic Sleep Deprivation

Be Healthy

Sleep deprivation is a significant health problem our society faces today.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 7-19% of adults in the United States do not get enough sleep. This is based on the organization’s recommendations that adults ages 18 and older get between 7 and 9 hours of quality sleep nightly. 

In addition, nearly 40% of adults reported accidentally falling asleep during the day at least once a month. 

A 2016 study by the CDC found that Hawaii takes the lead in sleep deprivation, with about 56% of residents who clocked in with the recommended hours of sleep each night. 

This lack of sleep can have negative health consequences in both the short and long term. 

Getting the right amount of sleep is important for mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety."

In the short run, sleep deprivation can affect your mood and reaction times, slowing your judgment and the ability to learn and retain information. 

Not getting enough sleep also may increase your risk of serious accidents or injuries. 

In the long run, sleep deprivation may put you at greater risk for chronic health problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even early death. 

Getting the right amount of sleep is important for mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety. Fortunately, there are proactive things you can do to make sure you get enough sleep. 

Here are six ways to improve your sleeping habits

  • Try your best to maintain the same sleep schedule every day. Staying up late and sleeping in late can disrupt your body’s natural sleeping cycle.

  • Stop eating heavy meals and drinking alcoholic beverages at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid nicotine (i.e., cigarettes) and caffeine (i.e., soda, coffee, tea, chocolate), which can interfere with sleep. You should have your last caffeinated beverage somewhere between six to eight hours before bed.
  • Be physically active. Working out can improve your sleep by relieving muscle tension. Exercise also can increase the quality of your sleep and reset your sleep-wake cycle. However, some people find strenuous activity before bed makes it harder to fall asleep. If this is you, work out earlier in the day or evening so you have enough time to cool down.
  • Reserve an hour before bed for relaxation. Wind down with a book, herbal tea or light breathing exercises.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, cool and dark. Avoid bright, artificial light from a TV, computer screen or phone screen, as the lights may trick our brains into thinking it’s daytime.

If you are still having trouble falling asleep, you should talk to your primary care physician to address the root of the problem and discuss other options to help you sleep. 



Published on: March 1, 2023