College of DuPage Nursing Student Kristina Radu, asks Healthy Lombard readers “Do you feel tired all the time?”
If so, it is possible that the solution is as simple as not getting enough sleep. In today’s busy environment with rampant use of technology and post-coffee shops on every corner, it is not unusual to become sleep-deprived. Recent studies have found a lack of sleep may have a significant impact on your physical as well as mental health and impact daily function. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), sleep loss increases the risk for heart disease, kidney disease, hypertension, and diabetes in addition to altering mood, contributing to agitation and confusion. The amount of sleep recommended for premier health varies, however, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, school-aged children between 6-12 years of age actually require the most sleep of ~ 9 to 12 hours per day, whereas teens between 13 to 18 years need 8 to 10 hours in a 24-hour period. Adults, 18 years and older typically need between 7 to 8 hours daily for adequate rest.
Sleep is necessary for quality function as it acts to ‘restart the brain,’ providing the brain with an opportunity to relax, reboot, and process the activities of the day. It is therefore sensical that adequate sleep may affect behavior; feelings of grogginess and agitation occur when sleep is lacking, whereas a balanced sleep cycle has a positive impact on mood. Four cycles or stages occur in the brain during sleep. In the first stage, drifting in and out of sleep is common and it is easy to be awakened. During the second stage, eye movement and heart rate begin to slow. By stage 3, deep sleep begins and growth hormone levels are increased. Dreams are common in the last sleep stage, commonly referred to as REM sleep, for ‘rapid eye movement,’ approximately 2 hours after falling asleep. If REM sleep is lacking due to being awakened or frequently disturbed during sleep, a feeling of unrest will result following the sleep experience.
It is therefore extremely important to avoid factors that disturb sleep to maintain overall health. Watching television while falling asleep may impair sleep since the constantly flashing TV light may suppress melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that induces sleep, thus, deficient levels contribute to a lack of sleep. Spending time on a mobile device before attempting sleep may also alter melatonin levels so avoiding technology for at least one hour before attempting sleep to enhance sleep quality is recommended. It may also be helpful to avoid stimulants such as caffeine which may increase a sense of alertness, to prevent to insomnia and improve sleep quality as well as quantity. So next time you feel consistently tired or fatigued, and experience sluggishness throughout the day, consider droppin’ the phone, turning off the TV, avoiding or limiting caffeine, and remember the wonderful feeling awaiting you once you experience a satisfying and restful night of sleep – moreover, improved health and wellness of the entire body! !
Information obtained from:
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine