Many people have compared sleep deprivation with having many of the same effects of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which makes it pretty interesting to take a look at sleep deprivation and reaction time and how it can have similiar effects on a person’s body and behavior.
Sleep deprivation can have many effects on people, causing everything from nausea to hyperactivity. It can cause people to be more irritable, suffer from headaches, and even hallucinate. Sleep research studies have shown that people need sleep in order to function properly and the lack of proper sleep (including the REM phase of sleep) can create many problems, both physical and mental.
Many accidents are caused by sleep deprivation. Many people have fallen asleep at the wheel while driving, and the likelihood of work related accidents also increase due to a person being tired and unable to react as quickly as someone who is awake and alert. Many people have even said that driving while tired is equally as dangerous as driving drunk.
Sleep deprivation unfortunately is common – the average person works over 50 hours per week, and demanding schedules and responsibilities often push sleep to the bottom of priorities, even though it should be one of the first. Other people may suffer from sleep disorders, ranging from anything such as sleep apnea to general insomnia.
Unfortunately, many people with problems sleeping do not seek medical advice or change their lifestyle habits for a better night’s sleep, which can result in many other problems being caused by sleep deprivation.
It is not surprising that our reaction time is altered when we are sleep deprived – much like alcohol abuse effects, our bodies tend to slow down when we don’t get enough sleep. In fact, several of the alcohol abuse effects are the same – relationship problems (often caused by increased irritability), decreased job performance, and as mentioned earlier accidents are more likely also. Not getting enough sleep can affect your ability to make decisions or cope with the everyday stress of life.
A catch 22 exists with the relationship between sleep and alcoholism and drug abuse. Many people use drugs or alcohol to help them sleep – but often the use of drugs and alcohol can cause problems with sleeping also. Alcohol has been tied to making a condition such as sleep apnia worse, and withdrawing from alcohol or drugs can make sleeping very difficult as well. Becoming addicted to sleeping pills is also another possibility.
If you’ve been worried about sleep deprivation and its effects on your health, its important to speak to your doctor. There are many solutions available that don’t require drugs or alcohol. Your doctor will be able to help you with identifying the cause of your sleep deprivation and help find ways to cope with it or any underlying causes such as depression or anxiety. If sleeping problems are causing you to use drugs or alcohol, or if your drug or alcohol use is interfering with your sleep, speaking to a doctor may not only help you feel better – it could even possibly save your life.