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Sleep deprivation in the information age can be deadly

While on the campaign trail last year, Donald Trump frequently stated that he got very little sleep each night. His 3 a.m. tweets on Twitter appeared to bear this out.

However, sleeping only a few hours a night is nothing to brag about. Sleep deprivation is a serious problem affecting not just the insomniac, but coworkers and others.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35 percent of almost the entire 75,000 who were surveyed routinely slept fewer hours than the recommended seven. Nearly 30 percent slept for fewer than six hours, and perhaps most worrisome of all, an astonishing 38 percent reported falling asleep unintentionally during the daytime hours at least one time in the month prior to the survey being conducted.

Symptoms of sleep deprivation include:

-- Difficulty with adjusting to new situations

-- Impulsivity

-- Paranoia

-- Becoming easily distracted

-- Poor judgment

-- Problems with receiving and processing information

-- Inability to focus or concentrate

-- Lashing out verbally at others

When people are chronically sleep-deprived, their ability to absorb new information decreases as much as 40 percent. Missing out on REM sleep can even cause them to lack empathy for others.

When workers on the job skimp on their nightly Z's, the results can be catastrophic. More than 200,000 workplace accidents a year are attributed to sleep deprivation.

Below are some horrific disasters that were caused by workers who didn't get enough rest:

-- Exxon Valdez. When the oil tanker hit an Alaskan reef in 1989, more than 11 million gallons of crude oil spoiled some of America's most pristine beaches and waters. Crew members were exhausted from shifts as long as 14 hours, and one man fell asleep while in control of the tanker.

-- Three Mile Island. Ten years prior to the oil spill Three Mile Island's nuclear reactor in Pennsylvania experienced a meltdown. An investigation found that sleep deprived workers ignored warnings of the looming disaster, which wound up costing a billion dollars to clean up.

-- The Challenger disaster. It wasn't the astronauts who perished who were sleep deprived but the workers at NASA in charge of installing the O-rings that contained explosive gases.

If you lose a loved one in a work-related death due to someone's lack of proper rest, you may need to take legal action to hold them responsible for your losses.

Source: AlterNet, "Trump Brags About Not Sleeping Much: Here Are 6 Catastrophes Caused by Sleep Deprivation," Larry Schwartz, Jan. 18, 2017

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