Don't close eyes to effects of sleep deprivation

Tuesday's report ("Lack of sleep could dull your body's health") covers a comprehensive list of negative effects on health when there is a lack of sleep, and also refers to the complications of sleep apnoea in terms of chronic health problems.

The effects of a lack of sleep on brain function and emotional status are not speculative.

There have been clinical findings and observations which are rather conclusive.

Recently, a finding by Duke University noted that not only did sleep deprivation among young individuals affect their cognitive function, but also that a replacement of the so-called "sleep debt" did not bring back their cognitive function to the previous "normal" level.

These findings should raise warning bells regarding the long-term health of our students and young working adults, who definitely are incurring sleep debt because of their studies and work.

The problem also has significant ramifications on society, which will bear the burden of dealing with all these ill effects in the long run.

Policymakers and those in institutions and companies should take note of this in their objectives to excel and be productive.

There may be counterproductive results if these findings are ignored.

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2016, with the headline 'Don't close eyes to effects of sleep deprivation'. Print Edition | Subscribe