Sleep deprivation is a significant problem in our culture. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or if you find yourself feeling sleepy during the day, you’re not alone. Almost 50 percent of Americans report occasional insomnia and nearly to 25 percent struggle with sleep on a daily basis. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have declared insufficient sleep as a public health epidemic.
Why are they treating this so seriously? Because lack of sleep has been linked to a number of seemingly unrelated health problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. Not to mention that sleepiness during waking hours can interfere with job performance and safe driving abilities. This places those who suffer from these conditions (and the public at large) at greater risk of car crashes, medical mistakes, and industrial accidents. Recently, sleep deprivation has also been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s. People with sleep problems were found to have an approximately 1.5 times greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease than those with normal sleep.
So what can you do to get more, and better, sleep? If you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, consider some of these ideas:
Exercise – Check with your doctor to develop a fitness program that’s right for you. While physical activity has been associated with better sleep for some time, recent research suggests that it may help control insomnia.
Manage Blood Sugar – This is crucial for many levels of health, but also for healthy sleep. Normal blood sugar levels are important because scientists have found relationships between diabetes and sleep deprivation, sleep apnea, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Control Pain – Pain can a major factor in sleeplessness. If pain is keeping you up at night, consult your doctor to help you find the most appropriate method of pain management for you.
Limit Alcohol Consumption – A drink in the evening can be relaxing and may help you fall asleep. However, having too much alcohol can interfere with rapid eye movement (commonly known as REM). This phase of sleep is critical to feeling rested and when it is interrupted, it can cause you to awaken throughout the night.
Address Sleep Apnea – Many people suffer from sleep apnea without even knowing it. Consult your doctor if you snore excessively, toss and turn a lot during the night, and feel exhausted when waking up in the morning even if you’ve had seven to nine hours of sleep.
If you need help in managing any of these areas, contact Dr. Guzman’s office to schedule an appointment. Getting the sleep you need is a crucial part of your overall health for the present and your future.