5 Terrifying Facts About Sleep Deprivation That Will Keep You Up At Night

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October is scary month for many reasons: Halloween, an overabundance of pumpkin-spiced everything, and the dreadful uprise of midterms. To add to this frightening occasion, I’d like to highlight some chilling facts about poor sleep that may motivate you to catch up on those Z’s.

1. Drowsy driving and drunk driving are equally dangerous.

It’s obvious that dozing off at the wheel is treacherous, but could it really compare to driving drunk? You bet. Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that drivers who were intoxicated or tired were at minimum twice as likely to cause a motor vehicle accident, compared to those who were well-rested or sober. Additionally, the top cause of high-severity crashes on the road is fatigue, according to the National Geographic Channel’s Documentary, Sleepless In America.

2. Poor sleep health is more dangerous for women.

According to Researchers at Duke University Medical Center, poor sleep is linked to greater psychological distress and a higher risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The researchers also discovered that these risks are significantly stronger for women than men.

3. Sleep deprivation can make you depressed.

As I discussed in a previous blog, symptoms of mental illness develop quickly from lack of sleep. Although not a direct cause of depression, suffering from poor sleep habits or a sleep disorder make it much more likely for you to develop depression when compared with those who sleep well.

4. Not sleeping can give you a “dirty” brain.

A 2013 article by the NIH explained that sleep helps restore the brain by flushing out toxins and dangerous proteins. Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, who discovered this brain flushing system, claims that “these findings have significant implications for treating ‘dirty brain’ diseases like Alzheimer’s.” By not getting enough sleep, the brain cannot efficiently rid the brain of these toxins, therefore increasing your risk of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s later in life.

5. “Every aspect of who you are as a human, every capability is degraded, impaired, when you lose sleep…”

This quote from Mark Rosekind, member of the National Transportation Safety Board, accurately explains what happens to your body if you’re sleep deprived. He goes on to say, “What does [this] mean? Your decision-making, reaction time, situational awareness, memory, communication, and those things go down by 20 to 50 percent.”

This is just a small glimpse of the detrimental effects that not getting enough sleep can have. Whether you’re having trouble sleeping from pulling all-nighters in preparation for midterms or from binging horror movies on Netflix, please don’t forget to get the sleep you need.