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Why Being Sleep Deprived Is NOT a Sign of Productivity

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Appetite For a Change page.

Sleep deprivation is a serious health concern that many simply choose to ignore. The price for doing so can be steep. Research tells us that lack of sleep can contribute to everything from diabetes, obesity, and heart disease to physical aches and pains and irreversible brain damage.

In one recent animal study,1 sleep deprived mice lost 25 percent of the neurons located in their locus coeruleus, a nucleus in the brainstem associated with wakefulness and cognitive processes. The research also showed that "catching up" on sleep on the weekend will not prevent this damage.

Other research published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging2 suggests that people with chronic sleep problems may develop Alzheimer's disease sooner than those who sleep well.

If you're cutting down on sleep in order to get ahead in your career while juggling a household and your kids' jam-packed schedules, such findings should give you pause. As noted in a recent article in The Atlantic:3

"For some, sleep loss is a badge of honor, a sign that they don't require the eight-hour biological reset that the rest of us softies do. Others feel that keeping up with peers requires sacrifice at the personal level-and at least in the short-term, sleep is an invisible sacrifice."

The Cult of Manly Wakefulness

According to the 2013 International Bedroom Poll by the National Sleep Foundation,4 25 percent of Americans report having to cut down on sleep due to long workdays.

On average, Americans get only 6.5 hours of sleep on weeknights, but report needing 7.25 hours in order to function optimally. Canadians fare slightly better in this regard. On average, Canadians get just over seven hours of sleep per night, which brings them closer to the amount needed to function at their best.

Another recent survey5 of the sleeping habits of Britons revealed that nearly six out of 10 people get less than seven hours of sleep per night. This is a surprisingly dramatic rise from 2013 data, which showed that a little less than four out of 10 people slept less than seven hours nightly.         
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