Health

HEALTH

Getting the proper zzz’s

is key to good health

Sleep can be a matter of life or death. 

No, seriously. 

Sleep Awareness Week is March 10 - 16. Knowledge and self-awareness can improve overall health and well-being. 

Sleep health is tied to all health. Improving sleep can improve your whole life. 

Although sleep deprivation is not a cause of death in and of itself, the effects of a sleep-deprived mind can cause fatal accidents and work-related injuries. People work long shifts, especially at night, such as bus drivers and pilots are particularly susceptible.  

Another concern is increased risk of cardiovascular issues, doubling or even tripling the risk for folks who get less than five hours of sleep a night. 

Sleep deprivation can cause any number of ailments including mental health problems and an increased risk for myriad physical ailments. 

Some of the most common chronic health conditions one can contract due to a lack of sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are heart attacks, coronary heart disease, strokes, asthma, arthritis and depression.

A lack of zzz’s can affect any and every part of the body, from your digestive system up to your central nervous system (brain.) Long-term sleep problems can cause a person to develop impulsive behaviors, anxiety or depression. 

The most common age group affected by a lack of sleep are 45 - 50-year-olds, followed by 35 - 44-year-olds. 

 

But of course, no one is immune to lack of sleep and problems can arise at any age. Men are more affected by sleep problems than women, but only by a small margin.

Some of the risk factors for a lack of sleep are obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and excess alcohol usage. 

As mentioned above, jobs can play a big role, especially if the work involves unconventional hours requiring overtime and overnight shifts. 

Sleep deprivation also makes folks more susceptible to common colds and the flu as the immune system is unable to fully recover each day, lowering its ability to fight off bacteria. 

Lifestyle changes can be a game-changer in improving one’s sleep, according to the Sleep Foundation. 

Simple changes such as sticking to a routine sleep schedule and implementing some sort of relaxing ritual before bed can improve the quality of your bedtime. 

Turn off any bright lights, including electronics and try to focus on winding down with books, journaling or taking a nice long hot bath.

Exercising and avoiding bodily intake such as alcohol and heavy meals before bed can also help. 

If you are already implementing a better routine and it’s still not working, you could also consider a possible sleep disorder. 

There are a number of sleep disorders one can be affected by such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy or restless leg syndrome (healthline). 

If you feel this may be the case, it’s best to see a doctor sooner rather than later. If at least for peace of mind.

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