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Is Sleep Deprivation Making You Feel Drunk at Work?

How Poor Sleep Can Ruin Your Career and Health

Research indicates that even moderate sleep deprivation can severely impair cognition. Here's how not getting enough zzz's affects your work productivity, along with some helpful advice on how you can sleep more soundly.

Serious Effects

We've all experienced the familiar grogginess that comes with a sleepless night. When sleep issues become a recurring problem, however, our careers and health are put at risk. According to studies, sleep deprived drivers who sleep just five to six hours in one 24-hour period are twice as likely to be involved in a car wreck. Much of this is due to the fact that inadequate sleep causes the same cognitive impairments that result from drinking too much alcohol.

If you can't safely drive a car while suffering from sleep deprivation, it stands to reason that your work performance will suffer as well. According to Harvard researchers, the average American worker loses about 11 days of productivity every year due to sleep deprivation . That amounts to roughly $2,280 individually and $63.2 billion as a nation.

Improving Your Sleep Hygiene

Inadequate sleep doesn't just put us at a higher risk for accidents and pink slips. Scientists have also linked poor sleep to a myriad of health problems , including heart disease, diabetes, depression, certain forms of cancer, dementia and shorter life spans.

If you suffer from insomnia, shallow sleep or frequent waking, the following tips can help you sleep better:

Avoid tablets, television and smartphones. Studies suggest that the blue light emitted from modern handheld devices can promote insomnia by disrupting melatonin production. Try to avoid using these devices at least a couple of hours before you go to sleep. You might try reading a book or meditating instead.

Avoid eating before bed. When our digestive systems are in high gear, we tend to have trouble sleeping. This is especially true for people who commonly suffer from heartburn and acid indigestion. Try not to eat anything within two hours of going to bed, so your stomach will be empty and calm.

Limit caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Since caffeine has such a long half-life, it can still disrupt your sleep up to 12 hours after consumption. Alcohol and nicotine can also reduce sleep quality, especially when used within a few hours of bed time.

Keep regular hours. Since humans are creatures of routine, it's important to go to bed and get up at the same times every night. While it may be hard to accept, this should include weekends, which have a tendency to disrupt our normal sleep cycles.

Create a bedtime routine. Try to do the same things every night before you go to bed. You might dim the lights, stretch, read a book or mediate. Whatever the case, a regular nighttime routine can help your brain realize that it's time to get sleepy.

Stay mindful. A mountain of research has linked stress to insomnia. At the same time, recent studies have also shown that mindful meditation can improve sleep by reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

Get help. Countless people unknowingly suffer from sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. If you snore, suffer regular headaches or unexplained fatigue, consider visiting your doctor to schedule a sleep study. If you do have sleep apnea, you can eliminate symptoms and promote better sleep through CPAP treatment.

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