HEALTH WATCH: Harnessing the restorative power of sleep

HEALTH WATCH: Harnessing the restorative power of sleep

Feb 5, 2020 at 6:01 AM

Getting the proper amount of Sleep gives one’s body and brain time to recover from daily stresses

Many have skipped hours of sleep or even “pulled an all-nighter” at some point, whether preparing for a presentation or maybe cramming for an exam. Many don’t get enough sleep for various reasons ranging from work hours, stress, caregiving, medical conditions and sleep disorders to choosing to socialize late, watching late-night television, scrolling on the internet and more. However, sleep deficiency and regularly not getting enough sleep, also called sleep deprivation, can negatively impact one’s health.

Mary Crichton is a family nurse practitioner at Novant Health Oceanside Family Medicine-Bolivia, located at 584 Hospital Drive NE, Suite C. She shared information about sleep’s important role in health and well-being and effects of not getting enough quality sleep.

1) The value of sleep shouldn’t be underestimated

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for the best health and well-being. Children, ages 6 to 12 need nine to 12 hours nightly and teens ages 13 to 18 need eight to 10 hours nightly. It’s not just the number of hours that’s important. The quality of sleep also matters. For example, people whose sleep is frequently interrupted may not get enough of certain stages of sleep. Getting enough quality sleep can help protect one’s mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety.

The two main types of sleep are REM sleep, known as rapid eye movement and Non-REM Sleep. Non-REM sleep has three stages and includes going from wakefulness to drowsiness and then sleep, then a stage of light sleep, and a stage of deep sleep, which is a regenerative period.

“This is the time where your body begins sort of rebuilding the bones, muscles, and strengthening your immune system,” Crichton said. “The REM sleep is where it’s believed to be beneficial to learning, memory and your mood.”

During sleep individuals go through the sleep stages several times. Sleep has many benefits, including helping one’s blood regulate stress hormones and boosting muscle mass and repair of cells and tissues and supporting development and growth in children as growth hormones increase during sleep.

2) Sleep gives one’s body and brain time to recover from daily stresses

“The way (sleep) affects our heart health is that it’s believed to give the heart sort of a chance for rest from the day to day constant demands of our wake life, and overall reduction of heart rate and blood pressure,” Crichton said. “So, it’s definitely a benefit to cardiovascular health …

3) Sleep deficiency causes various symptoms and can impact children’s behavior

“The main symptom of ongoing sleep loss is excessive daytime sleepiness, but there are other ones such as moodiness, irritability, depressed mood, forgetfulness, increased appetite, craving for carbs, and inability to concentrate,” Crichton said.

She added that insufficient sleep can also affect one’s judgment and ability to learn and retain information. It can increase your risk for injury due to accident.

“Children who are sleep deficient may be overly active and may have problems paying attention,” Crichton said. “They also may misbehave, and school performance can suffer.”

4) Insufficient sleep may Increase risks for serious illness

According to the U.S National Library of Medicine, research shows that chronic lack of sleep or getting poor quality sleep increases risk for high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and other conditions.

Lack of sleep can lead to high blood pressure and inflammation, which can both damage the heart. The body also doesn’t control blood sugar as well when one doesn’t get enough sleep, which increases risk for Type 2 diabetes.

People getting too little sleep tend to overeat and find it harder to resist foods high in sugar and fat, which can increase risk for obesity.

“There’s a hormone called leptin that signals the brain when we are full, and that’s decreased,” Crichton said. “And then there’s ghrelin; that’s what stimulates our appetite, and that’s increased when we are sleep deprived.”

5) Maintaining good sleep hygiene can be beneficial

Crichton encourages good sleep hygiene, habits put in place each evening to optimize sleep. Some things Crichton recommends are: limiting naps — if one is needed make it 30 minutes or less; avoid nicotine, caffeine before bedtime, noting that effects of caffeine can last as long as eight hours; exercise regularly during day; avoid heavy, fatty and spicy foods near bedtime; get adequate exposure to natural lighting during the day to increase one’s vitamin D and help body distinguish between daytime and nighttime; establish a regular bedtime routine to help the body recognize bedtime, such as taking a warm shower or reading a book; make sleeping environment pleasant, which includes quietness, no bright lamps, cellphones, iPads or TV.

“Most importantly it’s best to try to go to bed at the same time each night. Wake up about the same time each (morning),” Crichton said. “That includes weekends and holidays. If you want to sleep in a little bit, I say then limit it to no more than an hour.”

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