Program: Sleep Medicine

The theme of the presentation was the effect of sleep deprivation.  Since the late 1980's the average amount of sleep per night by Americans has dropped. Sleep deprivation has both physical and mental consequences.  During sleep there is a cleansing action to drain toxins from the body.  Mentally, during sleep is when short term memories are consolidated into long term memories. Sleep also has a restorative effect on the immune system. Sleep deprived individuals are more prone to getting sick when exposed.

The decrease in the average amount of sleep Americans get per night has fallen:

Year                Average Sleep

1960's                        8 Hours

2002                           7 Hours

Now                            40% of the population gets less than 6 Hours

Sleep deprivation can cause diet changes.  One study found that the sleep deprived ate 559 calories more per day.  Sleep deprivation can also lead to higher blood sugar levels.  One study put otherwise healthy people in their 20s on only 4 hours of sleep for one week and found elevated blood sugar levels.  

The Center for Disease Control has gone as far as to say sleep deprivation has become a public health epidemic.

The monetary costs of too little sleep is huge when aggregated into the population. 

$16  Billion Extra Healthcare Expenses

$31 Billion Safety Cost from Accidents and Mistakes

$63 Billion Lost Productivity

A big part of the safety effect is drowsy driving accidents

  • 1,550 Fatal Accidents and 40,000 Injury Accidents per year

Some "High Profile" accidents where lack of sleep caused poor decisions with huge consequences:

  • Three Mile Island
  • Space Shuttle Challenger
  • Exxon Valdez 

The bottom line is:

Lack of sleep is not good for your health, safety, productivity, mental acuity, and overall well being.