10 Fast Facts on Sleep Deprivation

Sleep.  Ah, glorious sleep.  According to my FitBit I actually got well over the recommended 8 hours of  sleep… once in the last two weeks.  If I add in the naps I take, I’m probably getting 8 hours at least twice a week.  Today was the first day since New Years that I was up before 8:00.  My alarm normally goes off at 7:10 and I’m doing yoga by 7:20.  Usually.  Ideally.  Mostly.
I’ve pulled some highlights from a blog that was sent to us by Hannah Wilcher.    She outlines some of the costs, side-effects, and outcomes of being sleep deprived.  It’s alarming.  You probably shouldn’t read this right before bed.

#1 Lack of sleep has been implicated as one of the most significant roles in tragic accidents that involve airplanes, ships, trains, cars, and nuclear power plants.

#2 Sleep deprivation can also be a symptom of an un-diagnosed sleep disorder or other medical condition.

#3 The record for the longest period of time someone went without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, and 40 minutes. During this time, the record holder experienced hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech, and lapses in memory and concentration.

#4 Any time less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means that you are sleep deprived. The ideal amount of time it should take to fall asleep is 10-15 minutes.

#5 17 hours of sustained wakefulness will lead to a decrease in performance that is equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of 0.05%

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#6 In order to fall asleep we must be cool enough, as the sleep-wake cycle in the brain is very closely linked to temperature. This is why summer nights can cause a restless sleep. The comfort zone shrinks as we get older, hence the elderly have more sleep disorders.

#7 Some studies claim that women need an hour more sleep than men each night, and not getting it could be why they are more susceptible to depression than men are.

#8 It is estimated that fatigue is the cause of 1 in 6 fatal road accidents.

#9 You become less expressive, and react less to humorous stimuli, essentially losing your sense of humor until you are able to catch up with your sleep debt.

#10 A lack of sleep can increase feelings of depression and anxiety.

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You can read Hannah’s full blog here.  So many people have told me about the rise in the number of car accidents on the Monday morning after we set our clocks forward in March, losing an hours sleep.  The insurance industry did a study and found the accident rate rose by about 5%.  So 20 accidents instead of 19.  Not hugely significant, unless you were in that 20th vehicle.
In our video on Sleep Issues for people with ADHD, Dr. Roberto Olivardia admits, “Sleep disorders and ADHD go hand in hand.  I don’t know anybody, myself included that does not have an issue with sleep.”  And he has seen a lot of people with ADHD.  
Dr. Kathleen Nadeau says, “Sleep deprivation is a huge issue.   People with ADHD are prone to have difficulty getting to sleep at night.  It’s something that’s called delayed sleep phase syndrome.  Adults with ADHD are natural night owls and delayed sleep phase syndrome is just a term for being a natural night owl.”  When she said that during the interview we did I thought, “No wonder I got into life theatre.  The curtain rises at 8:00 pm.  That’s when I’m alive, alert and ready to go to work.” 
Dr. John Ratey, Dr. Annick Vincent and others outline the reasons why ADHD exacerbates sleep issues.  And they outline a number of solutions.  Oddly enough I just got a message from a Medical Assistant who has ADHD.  He heard me speak at the Southeastern ADHD Conference last month and asked: 
 
“I just wanted to say what a great and fun/interesting speaker Mr Rick was for the 11th Annual ADHD Conference in Tuscaloosa recently. I laughed alot. And surely needed it. Since then I have streamed his totallyadd videos from youtube onto the TV screen at work for everyone to enjoy…”
 
Okay, sorry.  You probably don’t want to hear someone going on and on about me.  Even though I do. Anyway, he asks:   
 
So some parents have stated to me that giving their child a coke before bed has actually “helped” them go to sleep… I’m afraid to drink any caffeine after noon for fear of not being able to stop my brain. I kind of want to try it, but I already have racing thoughts, deal with it all day at work, go home to it, and no matter how tired I am can never just shut my brain off… I myself and son are also medicated… So back to the point, LOL, Is it true that caffeine is good for kids and adults with ADHD at night time before bed?” 
 
I don’t know if caffeine is ‘good’ but I do know that when I was drinking cola a LOT it didn’t seem to interfere with my sleep.  It did wreak havoc with my tooth enamel.
 
Several folks with ADHD have told me a sip or two of coffee, tea, or cola slows the racing thoughts and allows them to sleep.  My suggestion?  Try it one evening when you don’t have to get up early the next day.  I don’t know if it’s a great long-term solution.  For me, mindful meditation and some of the rituals in our video on sleep work well.  I used to lie awake for an hour or more.  Now it’s rarely more than 10 minutes.   
 
And I was relieved when Dr. Nadeau said, “One thing that I’ve had to discipline myself to do and really recommend that other adults do.  Is never vary your rising time no matter how little sleep you’ve had the night before.  If you were up till two in the morning, still get up at seven.  It’s really better to get up at seven and take a nap than to sleep until nine and stay up all day.. studies have shown that if you take a nap before four pm that tends to not interfere with getting to sleep at your standard time.”  
 
By ‘standard time’ I’m assuming she meant 10:00 or 11:00 pm.  Rather than your ‘usual time’ of 3:00 am. 
Best,
Rick Green

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