Professor Russell Foster, a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford and director of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, claims that people who are not getting enough sleep may be as out of it as folks who are intoxicated.
Foster told The Telegraph:
There certainly is a culture of, well I only had five hours of sleep last night how fantastic am I? In fact, we should be looking down on those sort of things, in the same way that we frown upon smoking I think we should start to frown upon not taking our sleep seriously.
Foster believes that a lack of sleep endangers with people employed in healthcare and transportation jobs, as well as decision-making.
We see this too much with really senior people. Lack of sleep damages a whole host of skills - empathy, processing information, ability to handle people, but right at the top of the chain you get overly impulsive, impaired thinking, because of this problem.
Look at banking, look at the recent decisions about the Greek crisis. We see major discussions going through the night which have a massive impact, and decisions are being made when skills are very impaired.
At four o clock in the morning our ability to process information is similar to the amount of alcohol that would make us legally drunk – as bad as if we had a few whiskies or beers.
A 2014 study at the National Center for Scientific Research, at the University of Toulouse, France, found that people who are employed in shift work for more than a decade appeared to have an extra decline in their thinking and memory abilities.
However, the study didn't prove conclusively that shift work caused these changes in cognition.