Are You Sleep Deprived?

Sleep deprivation is serious, says Mark W. Mahowald, MD. He is a neurologist and director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Rochester. "One of the biggest myths is that sleep is negotiable and something that we can get by with less and less and less of."

Pulling an all-nighter should not give you bragging rights. "Any degree of sleep deprivation impairs performance or mood," he says. "Our society has got to learn to respect sleep as biologically imperative. Getting a good night's sleep is as important as exercising regularly and eating a good diet."

How do you know if you are not getting enough ZZZs? If you need an alarm clock to get up, you are sleep-deprived, he says.

"If you hit the snooze button more than twice you are probably sleep-deprived," says sleep expert Michael J. Breus, PhD. Another clue is if you fall asleep in less than 10 minutes.

He is not surprised by the new study's finding that night shift workers and people in transportation, health care, and the warehousing business are the hardest hit.

But another group of short-sleepers is stay-at-home parents. "I would love to see moms in their first year with kids and compare their sleep to that of night shift workers. I bet new moms would be worse, and they are the ones driving 4,000-pound SUVs," he says.


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