Bernadette Keefe MD
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” .
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.
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 J
RED Arrow:Start of Midterms GREEN Arrow: Start of Spring Break (Image is sleep study by Juvoni Bedford)
There are a wide variety of “activity” trackers to help us monitor our sleep.
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.
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.
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. A great night’s sleep is within reach: We Can Do This!
Eight Hours of “Sleep” Music ~
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?
How Much Sleep Do You Need
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on the Body
Stop skating by on minimal sleep — these are the scary side effects of running on fumes
Deep Sleep and Sweet Dreams
Personal Sleep Monitors: Do They Work
Counting sheep: The best sleep trackers and monitors
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