Data has long shown that sleep problems can impact mental health. Recent developments, however, have indicated that sleep deprivation may be impacting society in more ways than originally thought. Many key careers that impact millions are impacted daily by sleep deprivation.
Although roughly 30% of Americans claim to have sleeping problems, only about 10% suffer from persistent issues or chronic insomnia. However, the data does point out that for the most part, a people aren’t getting the sleep they need. This data includes many of the people whose work requires them to make important, life and death decisions every day.
Using information gathered by the CDC’s (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) National Health Survey, the mattress retailer, “Sleepy’s” put together a list to illustrate the careers in which most workers are sleep deprived. Here are the top 6 (all are sleep deprived):
1. Home Health Aides (least deprived)
6. Social Workers (most deprived)
What makes these findings rather scary is the impact that people in such professions have on others. Furthermore, sleep deprivation caused by insomnia and other sleeping problems is closely tied to mental health.
Dr. Philip Becker, Medical Director of the Sleep Medicine Institute of the Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, illustrates the close correlation between sleep deprivation and depression by pointing out that the ratio of women to men with insomnia is almost on par with those who’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression, at 2:1.
In fact, he said that 6 of the 9 criteria required to diagnose a patient with a major depressive disorder are impacted by sleep problems. He also said that only 5 of the 9 criteria must be met for a patient to be diagnosed with such a mental disorder.
Sleep problems and insomnia have a number of impacts on one’s mental health, and findings published in a Harvard Mental Health Letter showed that chronic sleep problems (including insomnia) affect 50-80% of the patients in a typical psychiatric practice, compared with 10-18% of the general American population.
Insomnia and other sleeping problems were found to be particularly common with patients exhibiting the following mental health disorders:
– Bipolar Disorder
– ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
The Mental Health Foundation in Great Britain used data from the Great British Sleep Survey to make even more connections between sleep and a person’s mental health. Using data from 5,328 respondents, people claiming to have sleep problems were four times as likely to have relationship problems, and three times as likely to lack concentration and be in a bad mood. The study also found that that 30% of the population suffers from some form of sleeping problem or insomnia.
Senior Researchers at the Mental Health Foundation said that “poor sleep can lead to mental health problems, and mental health problems can lead to poor sleep.” He said that as a result, people who experience insomnia can quite quickly find themselves in a “downward spiral” of mental health.
Serious mental health issues aren’t the only impacts a lack of sleep can have on an individual. Research has also shown that people short on sleep have had difficulty remembering things, being attentive and being able to concentrate on the tasks they are performing.
Correlations between sleep and a persons’ mental fitness has proven to be quite strong, and it is cause for concern that some of the most needed and trusted workers are also the most sleep deprived. However, it is unlikely many of these worker actually experience insomnia. The respondents in the 2011 report averaged between 6 hours and 57 minutes per night and 7 hours and 8 minutes, far more than what would be classified as insomnia.