Serious Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Fairborn Physician Shares Dangers of Lack of Sleep

DAYTON, Ohio (February 15, 2013) – Most Southwest Ohioans know from experience that a lack of sleep can make them unmotivated and cranky the next day—but what they may not realize is the seriousness of the many side effects that are also caused by sleep deprivation.

Anessa Alappatt, MD, a primary care physician of Premier HealthNet, recommends that adults get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Without these routine sleep patterns, she says individuals are putting themselves, and even others, at risk.

“Driving is a huge issue because if you’re not getting enough sleep you could have an accident,” said Dr. Alappatt, who practices at Fairborn Medical Center. “For example, the statistic is that 50 percent of accidents involved with tractor-trailers are due to sleep deprivation.”

Insufficient sleep is a major concern on the road. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, sleep disorders are responsible for countless motor vehicle crashes in the U.S.

The risks are also evident in the home and workplace. Problems not only include a lack of work productivity and job impairment, but social impairments also. “If you’re irritable because you’re not sleeping it can affect your relationship with your significant other or spouse,” Dr. Alappatt said.

More chronic symptoms include weight gain and high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. Untreated, sleep disorders can also cause memory problems, impotence, and headaches.

Dr. Alappatt said the first step in avoiding these serious sleep deprivation side effects is getting into a sleep routine. A lack of a sleep routine is typically where “people lose their way.” She recommends cutting out any type of noise or distraction before bed—like TV or music.  She also revealed that using alcohol to fall asleep is a common misconception. While it can help you fall asleep, it will also cause early awakening.

The American Sleep Apnea Association reports that 18 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. Dr. Alappatt warns her patients that they should seek medical attention from their primary care physician if they notice a change in their sleeping habits because they could be at risk for a very serious sleep disorder that is not self-treatable.  Sleep apnea can cause heart disease, stroke, blood disorders and even sudden death.

“Getting aid to help to you get back on your sleep pattern is important,” Dr. Alappatt said. “There may be something wrong and that’s why you’re not sleeping.”

Primary care physicians are the first stop for diagnosing and treating sleep problems and disorders. Physicians can advise patients on healthy habits or prescribe medication to address sleep problems. Sometimes, however, additional observation and expertise is required, so a patient might be referred to a sleep specialist. The Miami Valley Hospital Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders and the Sleep Center are two places in Southwest Ohio where referred patients can go for sleep disorder testing and treatment. 

View frequently asked questions about sleep health.


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