Whether it’s our work, our kids, or our studies – our increasingly hectic lifestyles have made sleep a precious commodity in the 21st century.
We often tend to regard the consequences of sleep loss as minor and inconsequential – we feel a little grouchy in the morning, a mid-day energy slump, or a lack of concentration.
With ⅓ of the US population sleeping less than the recommended 7-8 hours each night, insufficient sleep has reached epidemic proportions. It’s associated with shorter life spans, and a host of chronic diseases , such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
If that’s not enough to concern you, consider this list of tragic, but avoidable man-made disasters caused by sleep deprivation.
The Challenger Explosion
In 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded just seconds after launching, killing all 7 astronauts aboard.
Some mission-critical staff managed only 2 hours sleep before the 1am launch. An investigation acknowledged the role of “human error and poor judgement related to sleep loss and shift work during the early morning hours.”
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
In 1989, this massive oil spill in Prince William Sound in Alaska caused extensive damage to and deaths of nearby natural resources, the 10-year clean up estimated to have cost around $1 billion.
The National Transportation Safety Board claimed that the captain was intoxicated and “severely sleep deprived,” causing the oil tanker to run aground the reef.
Metro-North Train Crash
In 2013, we saw the fatal train accident in Bronx, New York City, leaving four people dead and 63 injured.
The train engineer was believed to have either dozed off or was in a daze while passing through the curve north of Spuyten Duyvil station at high speed.
It’s clear that losing sleep is no joke. So the next time you’re tempted to burn the midnight oil, think again - and maybe have an early night.
Jeff Mann is the Founder & Editor of Sleep Junkies, an avid writer and musician, and a dedicated sleep geek!