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Special Report: Harmful effects of sleep deprivation

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This week we're taking an in depth look at the harmful results of sleep deprivation and how it impacts health and performance.

In tonight's special report, Beartooth NBC's Charlie Misra experiences the after effects of sleep deprivation firsthand. Sleep.  It's a necessary part of our daily lives that's critical to our health.  Yet many of us don't get enough of it on a daily basis. 

According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, 30% of adults reported an average of less than 6 hours of sleep per day from 2005 to 2007.  Doctor Kirk Kubicka of Rocky Mountain Sleep Disorders Center, says not getting enough sleep really hinders a person's ability to perform.

Dr. Kubicka says, "People will generally not perform as well if they are chronically sleep deprived.  They generally wont perform as well even if they have one night of compromised sleep on the following day."

To look into the impacts of being sleep deprived, I analyzed my performance for a day after getting little sleep the night before.  The lack of sleep left me dragging through the morning.  To properly assess my level of performance, I decided to take a standard field sobriety test run by Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton, and Sergeant Tim Zarske.  But I was not feeling prepared.

Officers give people this test to judge one's level of intoxication.  But Sergeant Zarske says there are common links between a lack of sleep and being drunk.  I completed the tasks in the sobriety test.  But I really struggled to process and remember the directions Sergeant Zarske was giving me.  Doctor of sleep medicine David Anderson, says we need sleep to restore our brain functioning.  Without it, we become at least partially impaired.

Dr. Anderson says, "A lot of it has to do with the memory consolidation in the brain. You can learn a task, and then if you're sleep deprived, you can't consolidate so that you can actually remember it."

Tomorrow we'll continue to investigate sleep deprivation.  We'll take a look at how certain devices you use every day could be impairing your ability to sleep.


Story by Charlie Misra, Beartooth NBC.
Copyright ©2012 Beartooth Communications Company. All Rights Reserved.

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Leo Dutton, Kirk Kubicka, sleep deprivation, special report, Rocky Mountain Sleep Disorders Center, Tim Zarske, David Anderson

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