9. Leads to Fatigue-Related Accidents
Lack of sleep severely impairs your brain’s ability to retain information, decreases reaction times, as well as impairs coordination and judgment.
This makes sleep deprivation not only dangerous for your long-term health, but makes it also a concern for your short-term safety as you go about your day.
One of the leading causes of serious car accidents is driving whilst fatigued. One in five of all serious vehicle injuries is related to mistakes made by a driver who is suffering from sleep deprivation.
One study even showed that moderate sleep deprivation induces impairments in cognitive function equivalent to being under the influence of alcohol. It is recommended that if you are driving whilst fatigued, you pull over a take a short 15-20 minute power nap to alleviate the drowsiness.
This effect of sleep deprivation is also a danger in working environments especially when operating machinery, or working in environments where there are hazards, and a high level of awareness is needed.
Many high-profile disasters are thought to have been caused, at least in part, by sleep deprivation. For example, the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986, and Three Mile Island in 1979, were both thought to have been caused in part by workers being sleep deprived, and therefore missing important information. It is also thought that medical errors in hospitals are often caused by medical professionals being sleep deprived. It is estimated that 50,000-100,000 deaths a year in the US are caused by preventable medical errors, many caused by doctors and nurses working shifts of up to 24 hours without getting an adequate amount of sleep.