How Sleep Deprived Are You?

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How Sleep Deprived Are You?

Does a heavy meal, low dose of alcohol, warm room, or boring meeting make you drowsy?

Do you fall asleep within 5 minutes of getting into bed?

Do you need an alarm clock to wake up?

Do you sleep extra hours on weekends?

Are you sleepy right now?

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, consider yourself sleep deprived.  You may feel as if you function adequately on less than the optimal 7.5-9 hours of nightly sleep.  You may even feel as if your academic, professional, or athletic performance rivals that of your peers and colleagues.  But before you chalk up any competitive performance, consider the fact that you are competing with and performing among a severely sleep deprived population.  If you answered yes to any two of the five questions above, you are likely part of 71% of the population that fails to fulfill their personal sleep quota.

Sleep deprivation is so pervasive that it has become a cultural norm, and in some cases, a championed characteristic.  As individuals, we often overlook the most common symptom of sleep deprivation because we are conditioned by familiarity to accept lethargy and fatigue as our baseline.  But don’t fail to closely consider fatigue along with mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty remembering and concentrating.  These may all be symptoms of simply lacking the sleep you need.

Individuals’ sleep needs vary with age, activity level, and genetic predisposition, but adults function optimally with a consistent and uninterrupted 7.5-9 hours each night.  Here are 4 Reasons Why.  Up until the age of 24, it’s crucial to get at least 9¼ hours of sleep. But in general, high school and college students are the most sleep-deprived demographic, with their sleep latency and daytime alertness on par with untreated narcoleptics.  It’s time we look more seriously at our nights as a determinant of our waking hours and start with an honest appraisal of the sleep we believe we’re getting.

Don’t overestimate the amount of sleep you get in a night.  While the average adult reports getting 7.1 hours of sleep, a University of Chicago study revealed that subjects claiming 7 to 8 hours per night really slept closer to 6.

The most accurate and comprehensive way to know how much sleep you get and whether or not you are sleep deprived is to take a Multiple Sleep Latency Test at an accredited sleep disorder centre. But for a thorough and inexpensive appraisal of your sleepiness, you can start with two short and easy questionnaires.  The Maas Robbins Alertness Questionnaire indicates sleep deprivation and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale classifies the severity of your sleep deprivation.

To learn about when you should seek help for your sleep troubles, check back for the next post on Monday, January 23. And in the meantime, be sure to check out our Facebook page for regular sleep tips and recent research.



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