Sleep deprivation, also known as insufficient sleep, is the condition of not getting enough rest. It is a word most people associate with tiredness, irritability, fatigue, and yawning, and commonly affects people who are anywhere from middle school age to retirement age. In a world where teachers and bosses are encouraged to pressure students and employees to produce large quantities of high quality work in a small time frame, students and employees are forced to stay awake late into their nights working away at massive workloads which are continually being added to. This leads to a major lack in the hours of sleep resulting in drowsiness, irritability, and a general lack in productivity, making the work even harder to complete. Some attempt to combat this issue with stimulants, such as caffeine. Unfortunately, this is only a temporary solution because such stimulants only temporarily combat the drowsiness related symptoms of sleep deprivation, and can sometimes make the problem even worse by making it difficult to fall asleep at night, even at a late hour.
Although these side effects may seem relatively minor and bearable, there are many other much more severe effects of sleep deprivation. For example, sleep deprivation prevents the immune system from properly defending the body from illness. Specifically, it has repeatedly been proven in various studies that inflammatory cytokine count rises as sleep is neglected, increasing the risk of infection. Other serious issues include the development of disorders such as sleep apnea, obesity, increased risk for type 2 diabetes, and even reduced hormone production.
The largest problem with sleep deprivation is that even though it is easily preventable, many companies and schools refuse to acknowledge it as a problem and solve it. Many solutions have been proposed, such as later starting times and staggered workload per class for schools, and better division of workload and similarly late starting times for employees, all to increase the total amount of sleeping time. However, none of them have been established. Companies refuse to accept such solutions because they believe a decrease in workload and later starting times would lead to a loss in productivity and consequently decrease revenue. However, there is a reprieve in the future. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed legislation forcing the start times for high schools and middle schools to be later, and school must adhere to this law by July 1, 2022. This change begins to address one of the many facets of an epidemic affecting many people worldwide. As a society, we must acknowledge that solving this problem will lead to a long lasting increase in efficiency and health of employees and students, leading to a future where humanity can work efficiently towards a brighter tomorrow.