Sleep Series Part 1

We live in a super-charged, sleep-deprived world. We work hard, play hard, and try to cram too much into our day, and night. This translates, naturally, into a lack of sleep.

Doctors say sleep deprivation has physical, medical and psychological consequences.

The Internet, cell phones, longer work hours and higher expectations have left us in a state of constant fatigue.

Sleep specialist Dr. Gary Zammit says there is about a 20 percent decrease in average daily sleep time in American adults now as compared to 100 years ago. He says that it is not due to a change in our evolution or our need for sleep, but it is due to change in the way we live in our society.

These changes date back to the Industrial Revolution. The light bulb eliminated our need to follow the sun's rhythm.

Circadian rhythm is our brain's internal alarm clock reacting to light. Often though, our work forces us to alter these rhythms.

So how can you tell if you're sleep deprived? If you're tired throughout the day, you're not thinking straight, you can't concentrate or remember anything, if you're irritable or depressed, get some rest.

Doctors suggest going to bed at the same time every night, getting up at the same time every morning, avoiding naps, etc.

Also, stay away from stimulants like caffeine or nicotine, don't drink alcohol and set up an environment conducive to sleep. That means a room that's dark, quiet and comfortable.