Stress blog

Wake up to the dangers of sleep deprivation

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. March 23, 2011

Need more help?

If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    www.nami.org
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

Little children are often asked, "What did you learn in school today?" Picking up on that theme, let me share something I learned from an airline pilot and a banquet manager about the risks of sleep deprivation.

A friend who is a pilot shared with me that new federal regulations require that pilots get, at a minimum, 8 to 10 hours of sleep between their itineraries. Many times the rest period evaporated while the pilots were caught in traffic or stranded on the runway. This is no longer acceptable, especially in view of some tragic crashes in which pilot fatigue played a role.

Another acquaintance is a convention and banquet manager at a prominent resort. After working nine consecutive days and averaging five hours of sleep a night, he had a complete meltdown and was temporarily relieved of his duties.

No matter what your job entails, sleep deprivation can be a catastrophe. Spiritual thinkers and philosophers from Eastern and Western traditions underscore the importance of rest and time away to clear the mind.

With today's fast-paced world, you must be proactive and preemptive to take care of yourself, or risk squandering your gifts and skills. It's not rocket science or brain surgery, just common sense — which isn't after all so common.

With

Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

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Mar. 23, 2011