Dr Charles Czeisler on Sleep Deprivation, Children Sleeping and Recreational Media

I have found a quality video on YouTube with Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard, called Sleep Deficit:  The Performance Killer.

So take 13 minutes out of your life to hear a bit of common sense from a man with some serious “creds” around sleep disorders.

In this video he states that:

  • 70 percent of people say they frequently don’t get enough sleep and 30 percent say they don’t get enough sleep every single night,
  • some children are so sleep deprived that they are distractible,  showing symptoms of ADHD but may not have ADHD,
  • fatigue makes it difficult to pay attention, impairs judgement and learning – and people have difficulty consolidating memories (which actually happens while we sleep),
  • 8,000 people die each year in fatigue related car accidents,
  • 1 in 5 motor vehicle accidents is caused by fatigue,
  • having a regular, set bedtime for children is highly recommended for them to have a good night’s sleep,
  • 70 percent of people have a television in their bedroom,
  • lights inhibit the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that helps trigger sleep onset,
  • children need 9 – 10 hours sleep a night, and they are presently spending far too much time on electronic entertainment,
  • coffee is addictive, and has a half life of 6-9 hours,
  • energy drinks are a $ 9 billion dollar industry (containing caffeine).

And the good news: Well rested individuals have

  • enhanced immunity to disease,
  • less tendency to put on weight,
  • reduced risk of diabetes,
  • live longer,
  • reduced risk of cancer,
  • faster reflexes,
  • enhanced performance.

Finally.  Napping is good.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rita J. Thornton December 10, 2014 at 5:12 am

Hi! My biology teacher told me about Dr. Czeisler because he heard that I do not sleep or get very little. I have been struggling with my sleep problems for about 3 or 4 years I usually only sleep about 3 or 4 hours a night when I am sleeping good. On my bad days I will only sleep 1 to 3 hours and during this run there is times when I do not sleep for 2 or 3 days straight. My sleep doctor at the Veterans Hospital has tried a lot of different medications. They will work for a week or two then they stop. I am struggling with this issue. I sleep with a CPAP, but that has done nothing to help with my sleep. What is strange I could be falling a sleep sitting up doing homework of watching TV, when I do, but I go to lay down then I wake right back up and cannot sleep. I just wanted to let someone see this issue that I am going through and hoping someone sees this and might have an answer.
Thank You
Rita Thornton


Elizabeth Shannon December 10, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Hi Rita
Thanks for your comment, and I understand your concern – years of sleep deprivation causes much concern, tiredness, stress and exasperation.

I’m guessing you live in America, I’m not sure if your equivalent of the Australian National Prescribing Service also states that the use of sleeping pills makes the problem worse over time, not better… so it is wise for you to look at other ways to solve your problem. Remembering that insomnia is also a withdrawal symptom which can be experienced when you stop using sleeping pills – which should be done under medical supervision in every circumstance.

Now that we have those statements made, I’ve got a few suggestions for you, and questions that might be worth thinking about:

I’m not sure if you have previously been in traumatic situations – I’m noting your sleep doctor is from the “Veterans Hospital”. If so, was there a particular time or event that triggered your sleeping problems?
Are you a long term shift worker/nurse/emergency situation worker etc – in which case your natural day-night circadian rhythm might be out of whack, causing you to have problems sleeping in the dark (when we naturally should be compelled to do so), and being very awake in the light hours of the day.
I could give you some tips relating to tracking your best time to go to bed, using the 90-120 minute ultradian sleep rhythm/cycles – but I’m guessing your problem is a bit more entrenched than just figuring out a better time to go to sleep.
Here are a few suggestions, as I don’t have your medical history:
. Speak to a psychologist if you think it relates to anxiety/depression/trauma/an issue from childhood or later etc
. Check your food allergies and intolerances (two completely different issues). You may have to do a full elimination diet to work out what specific food additives and/or food substances that are causing your problems – they can even be natural substances contained in fruit. And the dietician needs to be an excellent one, because the story is complicated, and needs to be done by a leading professional.
. What medications are you on? Insomnia is a side effect of a range of medications. And also recreational drug use, the use of alcohol to help you fall asleep, etc.
. You might need to re-train yourself how to relax – by listening to quiet music, guided relaxation cycles etc
. What exercise are you getting? Every day, or at least 4 days a week?
. How is your diet? Clean and unprocessed?
. Hydrated? Etc
There are many other issues, these are just a few.
Insomnia is a symptom of something else – YOU will have to be the detective to find out what that underlying problem is, in order to fix the issue(s)

Tell us how you go with this – it is a good discussion to have up here, thanks.


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