Sleep deprivation is a big problem in American society. If one is suffering from sleep deprivation, one can experience a range of psychological and physical symptoms. Most adults should get about seven to eight hours of sleep per night, while teenagers should get at least eight to nine hours of sleep per night. Some people that suffer from sleep deprivation may suffer from a sleep disorder that does not allow them to fall asleep. Most people that suffer from sleep deprivation are sleep deprived because of busy life styles and not a sleep disorder. (sleepnet.com) There have been numerous studies done to see what the effects of sleep deprivation has on society and on an individual’s body.
Sleep deprivation has serious effects on the body. When one is sleep deprived, he or she cannot think straight, has trouble concentrating, isn't able to handle stress, has a weakened immune system, and has other physical and mental problems. "The brain works harder to counteract sleep deprivation effects, but operates less effectively: concentration levels drop, and memory becomes impaired." (sleep-deprivation.com) The brains capability to solve problems is greatly hindered. People who are severely sleep deprived can even suffer from hallucinations.
According to Psychology An Introduction by Benjamin B. Lahey, there was a study done at the university of Florida. Students participated in an experiment an in this experiment they were only allowed to sleep for a total of two hours for one night. The following night, the students fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer than they normally did.
When sleep research first started, Psychologists did not know if lack of sleep affected health or if we needed a certain amount of sleep in order to main good health. One reason that researchers did not think that we needed sleep in order to maintain good health was because of student named Randy Gardner. Randy Gardner was a teenager that set a world record for staying up the longest without sleep. He stayed up for a total of 246 hours. During this experiment he suffered no short term health effects. He did say that he felt irritable, fatigued, and sleepiness.
In a different study, a number of college students reduced the number of hours of sleep from eight hours a night, down to four hours per night. Again, these students suffered no short term effects. (Lahey 2009)
Today it is pretty obvious that one needs a good night’s sleep to maintain good physical health. A study was done with male aged college students. During this study the students were only allowed to sleep for four hours per night, for a week. In this study “important changes in bodily functions were found that had not been detected in early sleep studies. The sleep-deprived students had increased activity of their sympathetic nervous systems, and their normal patterns of hormone secretion by the adrenal glands and thyroid were altered. Perhaps, most important, their metabolism of sugar was far less efficient after sleep deprivation.” This means that it may be possible to develop early stage type 2 Diabetes. It is also apparent that that being sleep deprived also weakens the immune system. (Lahey 2009)
Getting enough sleep at night can also increase your chances of living longer. “Death rates from all causes increase as the number of hours of sleep decrease from seven hours per night.” This discovery is extremely important now because the average hours of sleep have declined from nine hours per night in the 1960’s to seven or eight hours in 2000. Luckily one needs to sleep a lot less than normal to see a large increase in the chance of death. “Men who sleep less than four and half hours per night and women who sleep less than three and half hours per night have a fifteen percent higher death rate. (Lahey 2009)
A cause of death from sleep deprivation is usually accidental. Accidental deaths from sleep deprivation are most likely to happen “in the early to mid afternoon