If you think that cutting back on sleep won’t affect you then think again. Fatigue played a considerable role during the 70s and 80s in some of the worst preventable disasters the world has ever seen. Investigations revealed that sleep deprivation was a significant factor in the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, as well as the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl.
Investigations of the grounding of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker, as well as the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, have concluded that sleep deprivation also played a critical role in these accidents. In both cases, those in charge of the operations and required to make critical decisions were operating under extreme sleep deprivation. While the Challenger disaster put the multi-billion dollar shuttle program in peril, the Exxon Valdez oil spill resulted in incalculable ecological, environmental, and economic damage.
According to a resource from the Division of Sleep Medicine at
Harvard Medical School, not getting enough sleep—whether for just one night or over the course of weeks to months—has a significant effect on our ability to function. Sleep deprivation negatively impacts our mood, our ability to focus, and our ability to access higher-level cognitive functions.
Being tired has the same effect as being drunk, it affects your motor functions, speech, memory, decision making, problem solving, and results in aggressive and impulsive behavior. When I reflect on how much I was pushing myself to keep going, trying to make sense of the decline to my executive functioning skills, and hitting brick walls whilst seeing different specialists in hope of an answer, it amazes me that it had to take a CIS demyelinating MS attack to finally switch me off!
Instead of being able to focus on getting some rest to try to get better and find the cause of this debilitating fatigue, I was being placed under further stress both from my employer, and their specialists who kept insisting that I was fatigued from depression and could therefore return to work, and my own family thinking that I was sleeping due to being lazy and making things worse by not helping out around the house or allowing me to rest, plus having their friends coming over giving me additional mouths to try to feed despite having suffered a drastic cut to my incoming income literally overnight. I honestly began to believe that I was going insane so how I didn’t wind up in a padded cell with all of this going on still remains a mystery.
If you are having sleep issues try answering the questions in the Epworth Sleepiness Scale to see how your sleep is affecting you, you might be surprised by your score.
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It’s time for me to go and take a nap, so it’s bye from me for now.