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Sleep Deprivation

February 12, 2010 • Volume 20, Issue 6
Are chronically tired people at greater health risk?
By Marcia Clemmitt

Introduction

Working in bed trains the brain to stop associating beds with sleep (Getty Images/Time Life Pictures/Joe McNally)
Working in bed trains the brain to stop associating beds with sleep, which can cause insomnia. More than 40 million Americans have sleep disorders. (Getty Images/Time Life Pictures/Joe McNally)

New research links sleep deprivation to a large number of automobile and other accidents. Moreover, chronically sleep-deprived people are at higher risk for poor memories, mental illnesses, obesity, cardiovascular disease and early death. Yet today's 24/7 culture fights against the human body's biological need for about seven hours of sleep a night. Some people are especially sleep deprived, notably teenagers and late-shift workers such as police officers, nurses and medical residents. Meanwhile, some experts worry that overuse of sleeping medications is becoming a serious problem. Newer medications like Ambien and Lunesta are in some ways “safer” than older drugs, but they also affect brain function and sleep patterns in ways that are still not fully understood. With primary-care doctors now able to prescribe these medications because of their greater apparent safety, more people may get into trouble with sleeping pills.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Stress
Feb. 12, 2010  Sleep Deprivation
Dec. 06, 2002  Homework Debate
Aug. 04, 1995  Job Stress
Jun. 23, 1995  Repetitive Stress Injuries
Aug. 14, 1992  Work, Family and Stress
Aug. 13, 1982  Pressures on Youth
Nov. 28, 1980  Stress Management
Jul. 15, 1970  Stress In Modern Life
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Medical Research and Advocacy
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