Train crashes, truckers falling asleep at the wheel, distracted drivers running off the road or into people, cars and rails are often some of the dangers of sleep deprivation. These are some of the most deadly. Although, perhaps most obvious dangers of sleep deprivation that derive from an inability to remain attentive and focused or staying awake. However, there are other more subtle dangers of sleep deprivation:

Cognitive Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

  • Inability to perform complex tasks
  • Poor decision making
  • Difficulty with calculations
  • Poor judgment
  • Accidents
  • Errors

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Mood Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Low energy
  • Decreased libido
  • Psychological disturbances

Health Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

Can include an increased risk of:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Increased mortality
  • Inflammation
  • Depressed immune system
  • Increased risk of infection

It’s important to have good quality (depth) and quantity (duration) of sleep to avoid the dangers of sleep deprivation. Shift workers are especially prone to having sleep disruption as well as people using stimulants, drinking alcohol and caffeine, and eating late at night before bedtime.  

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene to Avoid the Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time
  • Avoid large meals 2 hours before bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine 6-8 hours before bedtime
  • Alcohol 4-5 hours before bedtime may make you fall asleep but as it wears off in your system it is a stimulant and will wake you up
  • Make sure your room is dark, cool and quiet
  • Turn off all electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime
  • At night, use a program on electronic devices to eliminate blue light called f.lux
  • Avoid naps that are longer than 15-20 minutes
  • Calm down mentally before bedtime, write down what is on your mind and do deep breathing or relaxation techniques, or take a warm Epsom salt bath
  • If there is noise you can’t avoid, use a white noise machine or use earplugs

If you still can’t sleep

  • Try short acting melatonin 0.3-3 mg to fall asleep or controlled or slow release melatonin to stay asleep
  • Calming herb blends with valerian, passion flower, kava, hops, and/or chamomile
  • Magnesium 200-600 mg before bedtime
  • Lavender aromatherapy oil
  • 5 HTP 100 mg if you don’t have problems with cortisol or hypoglycemia

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In conclusion, get an evaluation by a functional medicine specialist who can diagnose the underlying cause so you can avert the dangers of sleep deprivation.  Furthermore, neurotransmitter problems, hormone imbalance, pain, worry, and other issues such as sleep apnea may be at play. However, this requires a more complex evaluation. In addition, a good night’s sleep is essential to maintaining good health, productivity, and performance. Have a good one!

Dr. Lorraine Maita is a recognized and award-winning holistic, functional, and anti-aging physician and author. Above all, she transforms people’s lives by getting to the root cause of illness using the best of science and nature. Therefore, her approach is personalized, precision medicine where you are treated as the unique individual you are. Reach out to the office today to schedule your appointment!

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