RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Feeling beat? According to a report released last week by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, you’re not alone in feeling sleep deprivation effects: One in three American adults of the more than 400,000 they surveyed reported having at least one day of insufficient sleep a month, and fully 11 percent reported that they never got enough sleep, due in part to what the CDC termed "broad societal factors," such as long work hours and access to technology. In other words, sleepy is simply how we live now—and, as a new study published in the journal Sleep reveals, how we might die if we don’t get enough sleep to retain our decision-making abilities.
THE DETAILS: Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, recruited 49 West Point cadets to test sleep deprivation effects on a a crucial brain function called "categorization." "One of the most important tasks faced by people is categorization," say the study authors. In some cases, the ability to quickly and accurately categorize is a matter of life and death. For example, accurately categorizing an someone who has chest pain as suffering from a heart attack could save the individual's life. For a soldier, accurately categorizing an individual as an enemy combatant or a civilian can be crucial for survival.