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Negative 40 Winks: 10 Facts About Sleep Deprivation

Negative 40 Winks: 10 Facts About Sleep Deprivation

  • About 50 to 70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder, says the CDC, and sleep deprivation is a growing public health issue.

  • A Nation in Need of a Good Night’s Sleep: 45% of Americans say poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities at least once in the past 7 d. • Good sleep quantity—but not quality.Average sleep: 7 hr, 36 min/night (+ 40 min on weekends). • 35%: sleep quality “poor” or “only fair.” • 20%: did not wake up feeling refreshed on any of the past 7 d.

  • Pain Widens Sleep Gap: Pain is key factor in gap between the sleep Americans say they need and the sleep they’re getting. • Average sleep debt: chronic pain, 42 min; acute pain in past wk, 14 min; no pain, 0 min. • Chronic pain, 21%; acute pain in past wk, 36%. • Even with no pain, 1 in 3 don’t always/often get a good night’s sleep. • Pain joins stress and poor health as key correlates of shorter sleep durations and worse sleep quality.

  • Obesity Weighs Heavily on Sleep Apnea: ≈ 65% of Americans are overweight or obese. • 20-year review: significant rise in hospital discharges for obesity-related medical conditions—discharges for sleep apnea up by 436%. • ≈ 18 million Americans have sleep apnea—often linked with overweight. • Obesity contributes to sleep problems; sleep problems contribute to obesity. • Good way to treat obesity: treat underlying sleep problem.

  • Short Sleep Duration Affects Insulin Sensitivity, Diabetes: Insufficient sleep reduces body’s sensitivity to insulin, impairing ability to regulate blood sugar and increasing diabetes risk. • Reduced insulin sensitivity was compensated by increased insulin secretion. • 3 d of adequate sleep restored oral glucose insulin sensitivity to baseline. • Circadian timing of food intake during sleep loss may elevate diabetes risk.

  • Mood Killers: Sleep Interruptions Worse Than Reduced Sleep Partial sleep loss from sleep continuity disruption is more detrimental to positive mood than partial sleep loss from delaying bedtime. • Forced awakenings study subjects had significantly less slow wave sleep than restricted sleep opportunity controls after 1 night of sleep deprivation and significantly lower positive mood after 2 nights. • Putative biologic mechanism (slow wave sleep deficit) could help explain strong comorbidity between insomnia and depression.

  • Epilepsy Seizures Linked to Sleep or Awakening: Sleep and epilepsy closely related. • When patients have seizures: only during night, ≈ 20%; only during day, ≈ 40%; during day and night, ≈ 35%. • In some syndromes, seizures strongly related to sleep or awakening. • Sleep EEG recordings may help in patients with suspected epilepsy and nonconclusive awake EEG. • Perform sleep recordings during nap (natural sleep or drug induced), during night, or after sleep deprivation

  • Driving Under the Influence of Sleep Deprivation: Drowsy driving contributes to several thousand automobile accidents each yr. • Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (November 1-6): a campaign to educate the public about the risks of drowsy driving and improve safety. • Drowsy Driving Consensus Workgroup: Drivers who slept for ≤ 2 hr in the preceding 24 hr not fit to operate a motor vehicle.

  • Guidelines to Avoid Health Risks, Recover From Sleep Debt: New sleep recommendation: adults obtain ≥ 7 hr/night to avoid health risks of chronic inadequate sleep. • No upper limit on hr/night—> 9 hr/night on regular basis may be appropriate for young adults, persons recovering from sleep debt, and those who have illnesses. • Benefits of healthy sleep require adequate sleep duration plus right timing, daily regularity, good sleep quality, and absence of sleep disorders.

  • Don’t Sleep on Sleep Hygiene: Sleep hygiene tips (adapted from the National Sleep Foundation) to improve sleep: • Go to bed at the same time each night, rise at the same time each morning. • Avoid: large meals before bedtime, caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, nicotine.

  • Practicing “Traditional” Sleep Medicine: Natural Environment: How did humans sleep before the modern era? • Researchers investigated sleep in 3 preindustrial societies. • Average durations: 5.7-7.1 hr—They do not sleep more than “modern” humans. Findings: Temperature may be a major regulator of human sleep duration and timing, also light exposure. • Conclusion: Mimicking aspects of natural environment may help in treating modern sleep disorders

“I slept like a baby—I woke up every 2 hours and cried” is a popular joke, but the consequences of poor and inadequate sleep are not a laughing matter. About 50 to 70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder, says the CDC, and sleep deprivation is a growing public health issue. Persons with sleep insufficiency are more likely to have chronic diseases—hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity—and a variety of other health problems, including cancer and increased mortality. And, quality of life and productivity are diminished.

Click through the slides above for a fast refresher on some key facts about sleep and sleep deprivation and then share them with your patients.


AND medicine has nothing to offer beyond sleep hygiene, a totally inadequate response for many people.

Frances @

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