Sleep disorders affect 50-70 million US adults. A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. In fact, it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately, the Western environment is interfering with natural sleep patterns. People are now sleeping less than they did in the past, and sleep quality has decreased as well, Healthline reports.
Just How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Most of us aren’t getting enough sleep each night, but most of us also don’t know exactly how much sleep we should be getting.
The American Sleep Association provides the following recommendations for sleep per age group:
- Adult: 7 – 9 hours
- Teenager: 8 – 10 hours
- Child 6 – 12 years: 9- 12 hours
- Child 3 – 5 years: 10 – 13 hours (including naps)
- Child 1 – 2 years: 11 – 14 hours (including naps)
- Infants 4 -12 months: 12 – 16 hours (including naps)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for the best health and wellbeing. Adults who averaged less than seven hours of sleep per 24-hour period were more likely to report being obese, physically inactive, and current smokers compared to people who got enough sleep, the CDC said.
Eight Reasons Sleep is Important for Overall Wellness
Most of us think sleep is a luxury we can do or do without depending on our circumstances or day-to-day commitments. But, the truth of the matter, sleep directly impacts your overall wellness. Consider the following:
- Short sleep duration is associated with a drastically increased risk of weight gain and obesity, in both children and adults.
- Poor sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite. Those who get adequate sleep tend to eat fewer calories than those who don’t.
- Good sleep can maximize problem-solving skills and enhance memory. Poor sleep has been shown to impair brain function.
- Sleeping less than 7–8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Sleep deprivation can cause prediabetes in healthy adults in as little as six days. Many studies show a strong link between short sleep duration and type 2 diabetes.
- Poor sleeping patterns are strongly linked to depression, particularly for those with a sleep disorder.
- Getting at least eight hours of sleep can improve your immune function and help fight the common cold.
- Sleep affects your body’s inflammatory responses. Poor sleep is strongly linked to inflammatory bowel diseases and can increase your risk of disease recurrence.
When a Sleep Disorder is to Blame
Sleep disorders come with serious symptoms/side effects such as irritability, exhaustion, brain fog and a weakened immune system.
Seek help from one of our Balanced Well-Being Healthcare members to get to the bottom of what is causing you to lose out on vital zzz’s.
Until then, educate yourself on sleep medicine terms you should know, by reading the American Association Sleep Technologist (AAST) Sleep Technology Terms & Definitions ebook. This book can help you better understand and put a name to your symptoms.
Some of us want to rest, want to wake feeling well-rested but just can’t/don’t. According to the American Sleep Association (AMA), sleep disorders currently affect as many as 50 to 70 million U.S adults, and insomnia is the most commonly reported. Others include:
- Sleep Apnea
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Circadian Rhythm Disorders
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
Hormones and Sleep
Lifestyle choices, diet, medications, stress, and environment, can sometimes cause hormones to become imbalanced. The sex hormones, meaning estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, are just one set of hormones that may become imbalanced as we age. It is very important in establishing true balance in the body not to overlook this miraculous interconnectedness of all hormones and how they affect every aspect of the body–including sleep.
With respect to the complexity of the hormone “web” in our bodies, a complete evaluation should include looking at the body as a whole. We provide the following tests to assess the balance of your hormones:
- Thyroid hormones: specific testing beyond the usual TSH, will include measures of FT3, FT4, thyroid antibodies, and RT3.
- Sex hormones: we will look at estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone level.
- Adrenal function: we will look “upstream” to make sure precursors to sex hormones are intact, and we will measure DHEA, pregnenolone and cortisol levels.
It is not uncommon for female patients in their late 30s and 40s to experience symptoms of insomnia at the beginning of their transition to menopause (perimenopause).
Sleep Apnea Testing
Sleep apnea is a chronic medical condition where you repeatedly stop breathing during sleep. These episodes can last 10 seconds or more and cause oxygen levels in the blood to drop or awakenings from sleep.