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Sleep Deficits

Sleep deficits can contribute significantly to emotional problems like depression, anxiety and quickness to anger, to ineffective work performance, and even to relationship and marriage problems,

We have demands and responsibilities. We have tasks and pleasures that we need and want to get done. Sleep debt, which impairs our ability to be highly alert and aware, hampers our ability to perform at our best in these daily tasks.

This decrement can be devastating to the aspiring student and to working people as well. Fighting sleep debt while trying to concentrate interferes with performance, so work capacity is impaired. 

Frustration and moodiness from sleep debt also can have severe social repercussions. We might feel and appear to be lethargic in social interactions, or emotionally brittle, irritable and short-tempered. The extra effort we must exert in order to function during the daytime detracts from all our life endeavors, detracting from our satisfaction and contentment with our lot.

The consequence of long-term sleep deficits can be all the more serious. Heart problems, diabetes, stroke and memory problems are among the many potential distinctly undesirable health risks.

How much sleep is enough sleep?
The required amount of sleep varies with individual biological factors and also with age. Indeed some people simply do not need as much sleep as most do to be able to be alert and fully functional when awake. With regard to age, infants sleep most of the day and night with only brief periods of alertness. Children and adolescents need more sleep than adults as critical processes involved in the process of growing occur during certain sleep stages.

As diurnal creatures, our biological clocks work best when aligned with the 24 hour light and dark cycle. Light serves as a natural stimulant to induce the waking state. Traditionally, people performed most of their activities also during daylight hours. The modern era of electricity has changed this natural cycle. People are active and exposed to light from artificial bulbs. TV and electronics lure people away from sleep during the dark hours. In addition to sleep deficits, further problems associated with unsatisfactory sleep stem from disruptions to the natural circadian rhythms which roughly correspond with the natural 24-hour light and dark cycle.

Life is complex and unpredictable, and particularly busy times cannot always be anticipated. At the same time, during these periods, sleep does not diminish in importance to overall health, well-being and ability to function. So if meeting the sleep requirement is an impossibility, it can be helpful at least to limit the size of its ballooning by regarding sleep as a priority essential to effective work output, long-term health, and on-going life satisfaction

--- Excerpt from an article in Psychology Today