Got Sleep?

Pic 1Blog post by Bernadette Keefe MD

Introduction

The most recent data is that 20-40% of the U.S. adult population is sleep deprived: meaning they are not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night. The consequences of inadequate sleep on both the individual and society as a whole, are significant. The worst of these include increased obesity, decreased attention and learning, increase in mood disorders, and an increase in accidents. Working against our desire for optimal sleep are our fast paced lives, inevitable work/life stressors, and 24/7 online media, entertainment, and socializing. Although these are formidable obstacles, we must make strides towards the holy grail of a “great night’s sleep”

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Optimal Sleep

We now know the optimal amount of sleep we need at every stage of our lives. In general, we need less sleep as we get older. If you have a multiage household, it might be helpful to have this on the refrigerator as a reminder.

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Measuring, Tracking Sleep -Trackers

Tracking our sleep over time is a useful way to spot trends, and may help us to adjust our habits. It is especially useful to track sleep with other factors such as productivity, and overall wellness.  If there is a direct correspondence between inactivity, depression or sickness, with less sleep, that may be all the encouragement we need.For instance, the student who tracked their sleep below, may change sleep etiquette if those midterms did not go as well as he wished 🙂

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(Image above is sleep study by Juvoni Bedford)

There are a wide variety of sleep trackers to help us monitor our sleep.

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Insomnia – Inadequate Sleep

In order to improve the amount of sleep we get, we need to know the most common causes of inadequate sleep, also known as insomnia.

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The medical community divides insomnia into acute and chronic forms.

Acute insomnia is defined as sleep loss of one night to several weeks.  Jet lag, bad news, a new stress, illness, environmental factors, stimulants (coffee, nicotine),alcohol, and medications are some of the most common causes.

Chronic insomnia is defined as poor sleep on three or more nights per week, for a month or longer. All the above causes of acute insomnia can cause chronic insomnia if the circumstances do not change. Multiple medical problems can cause, or be associated with, poor sleep including musculoskeletal pain from injuries or arthritis, breathing difficulties, and mood disorders such as depression.

Remedies for Insomnia

When one considers the common causes of acute and chronic insomnia it may become apparent which factors are most impacting our night’s sleep. For instance, we may need to change our exercise routine, or the bedroom environment. For many of us, I suspect, it is our screens which regularly interfere our sleep. Some contributing factors are not able to be changed. For example, adults with children sleep less, and shift workers have chronically disrupted sleep. In those circumstances we must try to structure a healthy life around those limitations. The following tip sheet for a better sleep may be helpful to change those things most within our control.

Sleep Tips List

  • Get regular exercise, but no later than a few hours before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine in the evening.
  • Reserve the bed for sleeping and sex only.
  • Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature.
  • Set regular wake and bed times.

Conclusion

Many of us are faced with the problem of either acute or chronic insomnia. Sometimes, chronically poor sleep seems insurmountable, and yet, we know that sub-optimal sleep affects our health.

Please join the #hcldr community on Tuesday May 3rd at 8:30pm EDT (for your local time click here) when we will discuss the following topics:

  • T1 What are the greatest causes of our insomnia epidemic?
  • T2 What are the factors in your life that contribute most to a poor night’s sleep?
  • T3 When you do get a great night’s sleep, what have you done differently?
  • T4 For those without control over schedules, what “great sleep” solutions might you suggest?

References

Getting Enough Sleep? http://www.cdc.gov/features/getting-enough-sleep/

American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Factsheets, Sleep Deprivation http://www.aasmnet.org/resources/factsheets/sleepdeprivation.pdf

Sleep like a boss http://theempulse.org/sleep-like-a-boss/

What Happens When You Sleep? https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/what-happens-when-you-sleep

 How Much Sleep Do You Need http://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/how-much-sleep-do-you-need.htm

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body http://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/effects-on-body

Stop skating by on minimal sleep — these are the scary side effects of running on fumes http://www.businessinsider.com/side-effects-sleep-deprivation-science-tired-2015-10

Deep Sleep and Sweet Dreams http://www.nerdgraph.com/deep-sleep-sweet-dreams/

Personal Sleep Monitors: Do They Work http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-christopher-winter/sleep-tips_b_4792760.html

Counting sheep: The best sleep trackers and monitors http://www.wareable.com/withings/best-sleep-trackers-and-monitors

Books

Dement, M.D., PhD, William C. and Vaughn, Christopher  The Promise of Sleep 1999 Dell Publishing

Huffington,Arianna  The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time   2016  Harmony Books

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