Are You Drunk — or Just Sleep Deprived?

sleep-deprived

Research shows that losing sleep slows your response speeds as much (or more) than if you’d had a couple cocktails.

Our culture values productivity and performance, so we often sacrifice sleep at the altar of work. What’s one or two missed hours, we think, when we could finish this big project and get the praise — and possible raise! — that comes with it?

But would you want to fine-tune an important project if you’d had a couple of cocktails? Probably not. Research shows that being sleep deprived is like being drunk. A study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that after subjects went 17 to 19 hours without sleep, their response speeds were up to 50 percent slower than at a 0.05 percent blood-alcohol concentration.

The similarities continue. When we’re sleep deprived we tend to think we’re perfectly in control — not unlike the barfly who insists on driving himself home from the bar. “Sleep loss interferes with your ability to judge your performance,” says University of Pittsburgh professor of sleep medicine Daniel Buysse, MD.

So the next time a deadline looms and the clock strikes 10:30 p.m., remember that the best thing you can do for your work is to climb into bed.

This originally appeared in “Get in Sync” from the January/February 2017 issue.

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Laine Bergeson is a journalist, functional-nutrition educator, and holistic health coach.

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