Sunday, October 15, 2017

Why Sleep Deprivation Makes You Stupid, Slow, and Dangerous

By: Heather Davis, EdD 


The article discusses the ill effect of Sleep deprivation as commonplace and its effects on cognitive function, health, and mood. It discusses the cost associated with it, the effect on employee performance and death related to it. This happens as lack of sleep leads to the slowing of reaction time, lack of alertness, attention, and vigilance, less is agreed-upon about the effects of sleep deprivation on higher level cognitive functions related to perception, memory, and executive functioning.
It discusses some of the important research the findings like
  1. In Dawson and Reid's 1997 study, they found that 24-hour wakefulness produces the same performance on a hand-eye coordination task as when those same subjects had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10%, the legal limit for intoxication in all 50 states.
  2. Killgore, et al., 2007 found that sleep-deprived individuals demonstrate frustration intolerance, lack of empathy and moral judgment, impulse control, and inability to delay gratification.
  3. Kahn-Greene et al., 2007 found that sleep deprivation also results in as much as a 25% increase in several dimensions of psychopathology such as clinical depression, anxiety, paranoia, mania, and borderline personality disorder.
  4. Zhong, et al., 2005 demonstrated that lack of sleep causes increases in serum norepinephrine, the neurotransmitter responsible for the fight-or-flight stress response that results in increases in blood pressure and inflammation within blood vessel walls, commonly associated with heart attacks.
  5. Knutson, Spiegel, Penev, & Cauter, 2007 found that lack of sleep also results in glucose intolerance, the body's ability to utilize consumed carbohydrates for energy instead of storing the calories as adipose tissue.
The article ends up bringing points for further discussion like

1. What strategies could we employ (or are you familiar with) to get teens and adults to get enough sleep, given our 24-hour society and prevalence of technology? 

2. As educators, administrators and parents and healthcare practitioners, what practices do we [unintentionally] employ that place productivity on a pedestal oversleep, good health, and a balanced lifestyle?

3. What evidence (even if anecdotal) do you have that sleep has impaired your own performance or health?
Critique: This article discusses different research and their findings with no information on any particular research. It discusses the psychological and physical issue with sleep deprivation, but no issue with effect on actual applicability. The study highlights the effects of sleep deprivation both in adults and kids. Despite, numerous studies on the effects of sleep, more research is needed in validating the effect of sleep deprivation on higher cognitive functions and whether or not it has temporary or permanent effects. Also, with so much emphasis on the health consequences of sleep deprivation, organizations still do not give it as much seriousness or attention as needed. 


  1. I find it interesting that while we know sleep plays a vital role in our every day lives and a lack of sleep is known to inhibit our physical and mental capabilities, the issue does not receive the attention it deserves. Costs associated from sleep deprivation don't end with injuries, accidents, and illnesses, but also work place productivity. One would expect companies/organizations to want employees working at their maximum output and seek ways to improve such.

  2. I agree with Keith. I also think employees sometimes hide the effects of sleep deprivation so they don't appear to be the "weak link". As long a employees show up and the work gets done "somehow, anyhow" , then employers may not feel the need to pour in resources to investigate the means.

  3. I think that the western concept of productivity has sacrificed the importance of sleep, which is rather unfortunate. A paradigm shift is needed to improve the daily lives of people without compromising on efficiency.

  4. This article brings some important points in how sleep deprivation affects our mental and physical capabilities. In the workplace, many people resort to caffeine to cope with sleep deprivation. It would be interesting to see how caffeine affects the mental and physical capabilities of sleep deprived workers. Further research should examine whether caffeine mitigates the cognitive effects of sleep deprivation.

  5. I do agree with the need for more research, but we do have to keep in mind that some individuals need more sleep than others and that the study should allow for outliers such as actual sleep medical issues such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

  6. Companies and organizations need to place much more emphasis on their employees getting quality sleep. As the studies have consistently shown that sleep deprivation leads to slower reaction time, the inability to focus, and lack of alertness. You would think companies/organizations would want to encourage employees to live a healthy life and get plenty of sleep with all of the results shown from research.

  7. How were the experiments conducted? What were the sample sizes in the articles it sites. This article doesn't really seam to be critical of any of the studies it just uses them as a source.

  8. I enjoyed reading this article. PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from beddingstock