Michael Heminger has never needed a lot of sleep; six and a half hours is usually enough. But when a litter of foxes took up residence under his neighbor’s garage last year, his nighttime routine got thrown off.
“Foxes make some crazy noises at night. And the dogs would hear them and be like, ‘Oh, my God, we have to go investigate,’” he said, waking him every couple of hours.
As a result, he had a hard time concentrating at his job as an online sales agent for Goodwill.
“It really felt like just basic survival every day,” he said. “I have to eliminate distractions as much as I can and just focus on the small steps I need to do to get my work done through the day.”
He tried to get by with some extra coffee during the day, but that almost made things worse.
“When I get in that cycle where I’ve had caffeine for a couple of days, my sleep isn’t as good. Once I wake up, it’s hard to go back to sleep. And it just turns into this vicious cycle,” he says.
He eventually had to take a sick day just to sleep.
Heminger’s experience is pretty typical of sleep-deprived people, says Dr. Jay Balachandran, a pulmonologist and sleep doctor at Ascension Columbia St Mary’s and co-director of sleep services for Ascension.
“If you’ve got difficulties with concentration, memory or attention at work, that can be a sign of a sleep issue,” Balachandran says, noting that sleep deprivation can look a lot like attention deficit disorder.
Learn more about the signs of sleep deprivation and tips to get better sleep at this link.