Are you tired of being tired? Learn how to improve your sleep patterns.
Quality sleep is essential to your health and emotional well-being. Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, chronic pain, diabetes and a compromised immune system. It greatly influences your waking hours by increasing your risk for falls, accidents and decreased productivity.
Sleep is important. It provides both physical and mental benefits. Your metabolism slows down during sleep, damaged tissues and cells repair, and the immune system can more efficiently fight disease. A good night’s sleep improves concentration, memory and the processing of new information learned during the day. In contrast, sleep deprivation can cause irritability, decreased cognitive function and decreased physical well-being. Chronic sleep disorders can contribute to anxiety, chronic fatigue and depression. How do you know if you are getting enough sleep? You may not be if you experience any of the following,
• Feeling tired or sleepy during the day
• Difficulty falling asleep at night
• Difficulty staying asleep or waking frequently during the night
• Not feeling refreshed or rested when you wake up in the morning
Understanding the sleep cycle will help you realize that it is not just about sleep “quantity” but sleep “quality”. The average duration of sleep is 8 hours. Certain individuals require as little as 6 hours or as much as 10 hours. Restorative sleep is not just sleeping through the night but entering all stages of the sleep cycle. The sleep cycle consists of REM alternating with Non-REM sleep. REM sleep is when you are actively dreaming, processing emotions, retaining memories and relieving stress. The four stages of Non-REM sleep involve levels of deeper sleep. Blood flow decreases to the brain during these stages and redirects itself towards the muscles, restoring physical energy and immune function. If you are awakened during this stage you often feel groggy and do not adjust immediately. A normal sleep pattern would include 5-7 cycles of REM and Non-REM sleep each night.
Some of the more typical causes of sleep problems are the following:
• Poor sleep habits such as irregular sleep hours, or daytime napping.
• Medical conditions such as pain, frequent urination, and heartburn.
• Medications or consumption of alcohol.
• Wakefulness due to emotions caused by stress, anxiety, or depression.
• Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.
• Lack of exercise.
Over 80 percent of sleep disturbances can be treated without medication. Successful techniques include developing a consistent bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine after noontime, maintaining a warm and dark bedroom, and keeping the clock out of sight. A “white noise” machine that produces a constant background sound will help drown out a partner’s snoring, or other outside noise. Avoid alcohol, smoking and medications such as decongestants, since they affect the quality of the sleep cycle. Exercising earlier in the day can help muscles relax at night and burn off excess adrenalin.
There are a variety of sleep disorders and most can be managed effectively once they are correctly diagnosed. Two common types are sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. Sleep apnea is a disorder of interrupted breathing while sleeping. During an episode the normal airflow is blocked and the lack of oxygen stimulates the brain to wake the person. Cycles of frequent subconscious awakenings leave a person sleepy, irritable and depressed during the day. Many suffer from morning headaches, or elevated blood pressure.
Restless leg syndrome is a condition described as an unpleasant prickly, crawling or tingling sensation in the legs and feet leading to an urge to move for relief. This disorder accounts for 30 percent of insomnia in people over age sixty. There are new therapies and medications that help these disorders and can greatly improve quality of life.
Learn what you can do to get the sleep you need for optimal health.
Come to a FREE lecture open to the public at Chatham Health and Swim Club on Thursday, April 8th, 11 – 12 noon. Learn more about sleep patterns, sleep apnea and treatment options.
Space is limited so call now to reserve! 508-945-3555.