The current issue of JAMA carries a study revealing that the effects of lack of sleep are comparable with neurobehavioral impairments associated after imbibing 3 or 4 cocktails or around 0.04 to 0.05 g percent blood alcohol concentration.
The study involved young medical doctors, who we all know are subjected to long hours of work and little or no hours of sleep. The researchers also found out that these sleep-deprived doctors had a 7 percent slower reaction time, 40 percent higher commission errors, and had more errors in driving as evidenced by the results of their use of a driving simulator.
Hah! Beware of a post-duty doctor driving on the streets, then? How do these doctors deal with crucial decision-making when confronted with life-and-death situations?
Now, I think when we talk of doctors, and those of the health profession, we talk more of the extreme aspect of sleep deprivation. How about those people who have a choice to have 8 or more hours of sleep but would rather choose to stay out late, doing any of the ff:
partying with friends, chatting on the Net, talking endlessly on the phone, playing online computer games, doing work overtime in the office, or cramming for an exam?
I know, I know. 'Been there, done that. Guilty as charged. No need to rub it in.
But you know, looking back, if I can turn back time, I would have slept. And we know now I'm right. More and more scientific studies are coming out proving that lack of sleep does indeed cause neurobehavioral impairments --- much like drinking alcohol.
The bad part comes when we feel exhausted and dizzy while, say.....operating a machine, driving, thinking what the right answer is in a multiple-choice test, and yes, making a crucial decision about an ICU patient. We invite more accidents to happen as we go on.
Rygel, a young doctor-blogger friend of mine, asked me weeks ago in the tagboard: "Dr E, any advise for those of us taking the medical boards?"
I replied, "Get enough sleep."
He said, "Too late. I hardly slept."
Now, would it have made a difference? Would medboard takers have higher grades if they had a restful sleep the previous night? I leave the answer to future sleep researchers.
If it were up to me, I would put sleep stations everywhere, in the mall, in the office, in hospitals, etc. People need to recharge so they can think more clearly. I think I can even say that clear thinking and sleeping are two sides of the same coin.
More useful SLEEP links here:
- HOW TO SLEEP WELL,
- SLEEP MYTHS AND FACTS,
- SLEEP IQ TEST,
- SLEEP AND AGING