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If We Snooze, Do We Really Lose?

Andrew Otto
Position Statement

I read the article about sleep and the effects of sleep deprivation; the information and research presented I could really relate to. I agree that sleep is an important part of our existence, especially how humans need sleep to function. I need eight hours of sleep to function at 100 percent, but with a lack of sleep I can still get through the day. When I was younger I always had a bedtime and being that I was from a farm I had to get up early in the morning and work on the farm, so for me I just went to bed when I was supposed to. I always felt good the next day, not tired and perfectly able to function at 100 percent, so I never experienced sleep deprivation until I was in high school. When I entered high school I got a job, and there was sports, school, the farm, and friends all to balance into my schedule. Things were often times a lot more hectic in high school and my sleep usually suffered. I would usually get about 6-7 hours of sleep every night, but I was still able to perform all the tasks presented to me. The less sleep I got, the longer is seemed to take to perform a task, but I managed and soon getting less than the recommended eight hours of sleep became a habit. Eventually it appeared that my body was able to adapt to the lack of sleep and compensate for it. Now that I have moved on from my high school sleep schedule to college, I have noticed I am more alert when I get six to seven hours of sleep, not as awake as if I had gotten eight hours of sleep. It seems like if I get nine to ten hours of sleep, I am tired all day, so I guess in theory a person can oversleep. I am a little more irritable when I get less sleep, but I still have the cognitive abilities of when I get a full eight hours rest. I guess the amount of sleep that a person needs to function will vary with the person; some people just need more sleep than others.

As for the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive ability, I would have to say a lack of rest directly affects one’s ability to drive. Numerous studies have been conducted to study sleep deprivation and driving ability and the results are not surprising. According to the study conducted by the Federal Highway Commission, as the sleep deprivation increases, the number of accidents increases exponentially (Peters). In another story concerning the effects of sleep deprivation, the effects were comparable to those of people that were driving under the influence. After a person has been awake for 17 hours or more, they have a driving ability of someone with the alcohol content of .05. That is not legally intoxicated in Minnesota, but it still has an effect on one’s driving ability (“Sleep Deprivation?). I know that many people avoid drinking and driving, but what about being tired and driving, I rarely hear, “Can you drive me home, I think I’m too tired??

Another website I looked at for the effects of sleep deprivation presented a couple more interesting facts. When a person is sleep deprived, they are at a greater risk for developing heart disease, tremors, have slurred speech, and experience hallucinations. The reason a person could develop heart disease is because without sleep the body builds up stress and the heart and other organs have to work harder to perform their functions. In the article in the New York Magazine, it talks about how sleep deprivation effects weight loss and gain. Not only is there a chemical and hormonal balance in the brain due to the lack of rest, what about the common sense idea; if a person is tired do they really want to get up and go to the gym and work out, or does taking a nap sound like a better idea? To me sleep is linked to everything we do and yet, especially in the U.S., the culture is so faced paced it disregards the need for sleep (“The Effects of Sleep Deprivation?).

As a first year college student I figured that I would be tired most of the time. So far that has been the case, it seems like every day I have the best intentions of going to bed early, and get a good night’s sleep. However, living in a dorm building it isn’t always possible to pick when you will get some peace and quiet, or at least enough to get to bed early. Plus at college there are so many things to do, schedules fill up fast and there is always studying to do. It appears that being tired in college is just a way of life, and I don’t see the trend changing anytime soon. I just think that people should be more concerned about sleep and how it affects them. I believe that it would be a good goal for everyone to try and get to bed fifteen minutes earlier than usual tonight and see what kind of difference it makes on tomorrow.

Peters, Robert D. and et. al. “Effects of Partial and Total Sleep Deprivation On Driving Performance.? Federal Highway Administration. < http://www.tfhrc.gov/humanfac/sleep/sleepweb.htm>. 29 Oct 2007.

“Sleep deprivation as bad as alcohol impairment, study suggests.? September 20 2000.
< http://archives.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/09/20/sleep.deprivation/>. 29 Oct 2007.

“The Effects of Sleep Deprivation.? October 4 2007. < http://www.sleep-deprivation.com/articles/effects-of-sleep-deprivation/>. 29 Oct 2007.