How Are My Sleeping Habits Affecting My Health?

Posted by Jacqueline Carpenter on 31st Jan 2017

Sleep is not just a period of time in which your brain or body shut down. Instead, your brain and body remain active and form or strengthen pathways of brain cells needed to perform everyday tasks during the periods of sleep. Sleep is a vital ingredient in the recipe for good health and well-being.

Sleep deficiency can lead to mental and physical health problems, injury, and even a greater risk of death. Mentally, when the brain is not engaging in healthy sleep patterns a person can have difficulty focusing, reacting (Klumpers, 2015) and learning, as well as making them feel frustrated or more anxious than normal. Sleep deficiency has been linked to depression, anxiety, suicide and risk-taking behavior. Physically, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Therefore, it is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. The immune system also relies on sleep wellness and it may become more difficult for the body to fight even the most common infections. With a link between the circulatory system and metabolism, sleep deprivation can be linked to metabolic disorders such as diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance (Davies, 2014). 

From the National Sleep Foundation 2003 Sleep in America Poll**, the percentage of older adults with sleep problems is illuminating. Symptoms of sleep problems include difficulty falling asleep, waking frequently throughout the night, waking too early and being unable to fall back asleep, snoring, pauses in breathing, and unpleasant feelings in the legs. 67% of older adults report having at least one of these symptoms a few nights a week.

Sleep Disorder Highlights:

Insomnia

This is a sleep disorder characterized by the difficulty of a person to fall asleep or stay asleep. The 2003 Sleep in America Poll reports 48% of older adults reporting symptoms of insomnia at least a few times a week. Insomnia can be triggered by stressful lie events or travel, and typically insomnia caused by sudden stress is temporary and resolves itself overtime. Long-term, chronic insomnia can be a result of underlying anxiety disorders and is more likely to affect women than men as well as older adults. Chronic insomnia or insomnia associated with pain, should be addressed with a physician. 

Sleep Apnea

With this sleep disorder, breathing briefly stops or becomes very shallow during sleep. The 2003 Sleep in America Poll reports that men are twice as likely as women to report pauses in breathing (10% vs 5%). This change in breathing is commonly caused by a physical blockage of the upper airway by the soft tissue in the rear of the throat. It may also be an issue where the brain fails to properly control breathing during sleep. Most people are not aware of pauses in their breathing, but rather it is reported by their partners. Often those with sleep apnea snore loudly. A sleep study may be necessary to properly diagnose sleep apnea.

To combat sleep disorders there are a variety of sleep aids available to people.

Products available to help sleep:

Lifestyle changes (Siddiqui, 2016); not limited to the following:

  • Adapt a strict sleep schedule
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed
  • Avoid large meals and beverages late at night
  • Relax before bed
  • Have a good sleeping environment
  • oRemove distractions such as bright lights and televisions
  • oUse the proper supportive pillow for your sleep position

BraceMart has several premium brands of sleep aid products which include: Drive Medical | Core International | Therapeuitica | Mediflow | Sure-Sleep | Fabrication Enterprises | Splintek | Body Sport | Wal-Pil-O | Sleepmatterzzz

**The National Sleep Foundation conducted a national survey among adults aged 55 to 84 living in the United States; the 2003 Sleep in America Poll. They were able to associate sleep with medical and physical conditions as well as mood and lifestyle factors. They documented sleep behaviors and sleep problems among older adults as well as the diagnosis and treatments of sleep disorders suffered within this age group. In the previous year data was collected among younger adults, age 18 to 54, and compared to the older American group; the 2002 Sleep in America Poll.

This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. It is important to seek advice from a physician if you have concerns about your sleep habits or experience many of the symptoms listed above. Do not begin an extensive treatment plan without speaking with a physician first.

Sources:

  • Davies. S.K., et. al. (2014). Effect of sleep deprivation on the human metabolome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111 (29), 10761-10766.
  • Klumpers, U.M.H., et. al. (2015). Neurophysiological effects of sleep deprivation in healthy adults, a pilot study. Public Library of Science ONE. 10(1), 1-16.
  • National Sleep Foundation (2016). Sleep disorder problems. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-probl...
  • Siddiqui, G.M. (2016) Sleep well – stay healthy. http://www.lifelinehealthcarebd.org/Sleep-Well-St...