|Source: Kemal ATLI (CC:2.0)|
Sleep deprivation can also endanger the lives of others, as found in a study of around 3,000 first-year medical residents (reference in book). While their working week is "capped" at a massive 80 hours, individual shifts can last as long as 24 hours. In months where interns had at least five 24-hour shifts, patients deaths increased by 300% and fatigue-related adverse events increased by 700%! An Australian study also found that being awake for 17-19 hours impaired cognition just as much as having a blood alcohol level of 0.05%, which also counts as legally drunk in Australia.
However, in her research Arianna has uncovered the dangers of sleeping pills. Harvard medical school professor Patrick Fuller explained to her that the chemical imbalances caused by these drugs can limit restorative sleep and often only create a state between sleep and being awake, leading to side effects such as sleepwalking. Additionally, she found that use of benzodiazepines such as Xanax increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease after 3-6 months of use. Taking them for more than six months raises the risk by 84%. It is best to look at what diet and lifestyle factors are causing a lack of sleep, and using nutritional and/or herbal medicines such as valerian or lavender, instead of pharmaceutical interventions. Sleep is essential, but replacing one consequence for another is not the way to go.