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The Shocking Truth About Sleep Deprivation

Think lack of sleep is no big deal? Here’s how it could be wreaking havoc on everything from your physique to your sex life.

Does anyone else remember Wake-ups? Those little pink caffeine pills with a rooster graphic could keep you up far longer than any cup of coffee ever could. I spent many university all-nighters fueled by “roosters,” cramming for exams that should have been attended to much earlier. Sometimes I could barely write my answers on a test the next day because my hands were shaking from too much caffeine and too little sleep.

Now, a cup or two of coffee each day is my only caffeine buzz, and I no longer stay up all night, but I still don’t get as much sleep as I should. Few people do. The average person sleeps 60 to 90 minutes less than they did 50 years ago. Thirty-five to 40 percent of the American adult population has problems with falling asleep or with daytime sleepiness.

 [See: How To Get a Better Night’s Sleep]

“It’s a big problem,” says Lawrence Epstein, M.D., chief medical officer for the Harvard-affiliated Sleep Health Centers and author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep. “People don’t think sleep is important because we can get by with less, but we’re putting our health at risk.”

NEXT: The Powers of a Good Night's Rest

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