Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation is no stranger in my life.  I first became thoroughly acquainted with an extreme lack of sleep when I was in nursing school and had a breastfeeding newborn, and I haven’t become estranged from being sleep deprived yet.  Both of my children sleep soundly through the night, but I’m still sadly, very deprived of sleep.  Now, my perpetual lack of sleep is related to my work schedule.  Ah, being a night shift nurse with two little ones at home…

Routinely, every Thursday (typically my first day back to work) involves waking up around eight am, caring for my children throughout the day, going into work at 6:45pm and not clocking out until after 7am Friday morning, thus not getting back home, cleaned up and into my bed until after 8am.  24 hours without sleep, on a regular, sucks.  I do this every week, without fail, and the longer I do it, the harder time I have recovering from it.  I’ve started looking into what options I have that would optimize the amount of sleep I get, but I haven’t found a solution that really works for me yet.  I’ll keep working on that.

In the meantime, I decided to do a bit of research about sleep deprivation, and I found some interesting facts.  Nothing that will improve how much sleep I get to get or will keep me from having days that involve not sleeping for over 24 hours, but interesting nonetheless.

10 symptoms of sleep deprivation

1. Tiredness
2. Irritability and nervousness
3. Inability to tolerate stress
4. Problems with concentration and memory
5. Behavioral learning or social problems
6. Frequent infections
7. Blurred vision
8. Rage of discomfort
9. Change in appetite
10. Lack of tolerance

Yeah…I’m familiar with those.

10 random facts about sleep deprivation

  1. The average human will spend 1/3 or their life sleeping, which equates to about 20 – 25 years over 75 year life span.
  2. A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year.
  3. Staying awake for 17 hours drops performance by the equivalent of a blood alcohol level of .05%.
  4. Fatigue is estimated to be involved in 1 out of 6 auto accidents.
  5. If it takes you less than 5 minutes to fall asleep at night, you are sleep deprived. Ten to fifteen minutes is a good time span to shoot for.
  6. Lack of sleep may cause overeating or weight gain because you’re more likely to have midnight binges.
  7. Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for REM sleep.
  8. Tiny luminous rays from a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt the sleep cycle even if you do not fully wake. The light turns off a “neural switch” in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.
  9. Some studies suggest women need up to an hour’s extra sleep a night compared to men, and not getting it may be one reason women are much more susceptible to depression than men.
  10. The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.

For the record, the longest I’ve ever stayed awake was 38 hours.  It took several days for me to recover from that stretch, and I don’t recommend doing it.


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