Waking Up to the Dangers of Sleep Deficits

Unions representing pilots and air traffic controllers said that lack of sleep was probably a factor in the crash of Comair Flight 5191. The captain, co-pilot and air traffic controller all had had an inadequate amount of sleep leading up to the Aug. 27...


Kathryn Hansen, director of the Sleep Wellness Center at St. Joseph Hospital, said that most people don't value sleep as much as they should.

"Sleep has often been underrated in our society," she said, adding that many Americans are so chronically sleep-deprived that they don't have any idea what normal functioning and rest patterns feel like. Sleep deprivation is cumulative, meaning that adults who don't get the recommended seven to eight hours a night build a "sleep debt." That can't be repaid in any way but sleeping more, say during a vacation, or by devoting more daily hours to sleep.

But millions of people -- especially night workers and people who switch shifts on a regular basis, such as pilots -- are so far behind that they can't catch up. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that about 20 million Americans work rotating shifts that put them at risk for sleep-deprivation-related accidents and illnesses.

Ms. Hansen said sleep deprivation also is linked to a host of health problems that can shorten one's life span -- not just in accidents. Sleep deprivation is linked to high blood pressure, depression, weight gain, increased blood sugar levels and lowered immune function, among other problems.

Mr. Turek said that while people want to believe that they can function well on less than seven or eight hours of sleep, research shows otherwise. "There's no substitute for sleep," he said.



News stories provided by third parties are not edited by "Site Publication" staff. For suggestions and comments, please click the Contact link at the bottom of this page.

We Recommend

  • News

    Aviation Never Sleeps

    Health and Safety Aviation Never Sleeps Sleep deprivation causes more than sluggish employees-it impacts safety as well as the bottom line By Michelle GaretsonBy Joan Bittel> March 2002...

  • News

    Pilot Fatigue Still Large Threat To Aviation Safety

    Pilots are working longer hours as airlines seek more productivity.

  • News

    Comair Takes Some Blame for Kentucky Crash

    Blue Grass Airport, aircraft manufacturer Bombardier and the air traffic controllers' union pin most of the blame on the pilot and co-pilot, who in the predawn hours steered the plane onto an unlit...

  • News

    Comair Takes Some Blame for Kentucky Crash

    Blue Grass Airport, aircraft manufacturer Bombardier and the air traffic controllers' union pin most of the blame on the pilot and co-pilot, who in the predawn hours steered the plane onto an unlit...