Updated: Sep 14, 2020
We all have 24 hours in a day to work, eat, exercise, check social media, catch up on the latest syndicated Netflix series, pursue our hobbies and most importantly sleep. How do you prioritize your time? How much time do you devote to sleep? Is 8 hours of sleep the magical number that will give you enough energy during the day? What happens to our bodies at night? Can sleep really improve my memory? Is there something to beauty rest? How does sleep affect my health? Will my high blood pressure and diabetes be cured if I sleep more? Can I sleep off this extra weight I can’t seem to lose? How do I get my partner to stop snoring? I have tried x, y, z sleeping pill and nothing works. Perhaps the most burning question, why do we even sleep at all? Sleep is as vital to our health as nutrition and exercise. It deserves its time in the spotlight.
If you Google “sleep problem”, 270,000,000 results will pop up. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 50-70 million US citizens have a sleep disorder and the number is climbing. The CDC reports that insufficient sleep is a major public health problem, which can lead to lapses in consciousness, work errors, motor vehicles accidents, disease and increased mortality. A goal of the US department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 campaign is to increase the amount of people who obtain sufficient sleep, deemed to be >7 hours for those above 22 years of age. Only about 2/3 of us are hitting this goal, and this number is dropping.
We are a people who pride ourselves in having full schedules. In fact we enjoy multi-tasking at every moment possible. Raise your hand if you have checked your email, posted on Instagram or updated your fantasy sports team while on the toilet. Business meetings have usurped our mealtimes. Even our youth are over-scheduled with after school activities: sports practices, tutoring sessions and SAT prep classes. Up to 40% of our teens suffer from sleep deprivation and report higher rates of depression, which in turn leads to more more sleep deprivation. Mood and sleep disruption is a vicious downward cycle. We humblebrag about being busy as if it were a badge of honor to operate on less than <5 hours of sleep. We convince ourselves that “rest is for the weak” or “I’ll sleep when I die.” However by not obtaining adequate sleep we are increasing our odds for an early final slumber. A word to the sleep deprived, work life balance is trending, especially in millennials.
Why do we need to sleep?
Sleep supports a healthy immune system. Shorter sleep duration is associated with an increase in common cold. Instead of “an apple a day”, how about “sleeping 8 hours a night” keeps the doctor away?
Sleep keeps our metabolism, specifically blood sugar in check. Insulin acts to keep our blood sugar within normal levels. When we don’t get enough sleep the insulin in our bodies does not work as well and puts us at risk for diabetes.
Sleep is good for cognition. Women who slept <5 hours a day had lower scores on brain tests for memory, recall, attention, calculation.
Sleep helps us work better. Productivity decreases; absenteeism and occupational accidents increase when we are sleep deprived. Business owners and executives want to save money and reduce health expenditures? Start an employee wellness programs targeted at improving sleep health.
Sleep is as vital to our health as nutrition and exercise. It deserves its time in the spotlight.
Isn’t it exhausting to be continuously exhausted? Wish you had more hours in the day to get everything done? Here at Sleep Life Med we will be the guiding light you need to find answers to your sleep questions to recover health, replenish energy and rest with ease. Our illuminating advice is backed by scientific research and our aim is to help you create the blueprint for a balanced life. We believe that everyone deserves to live well and we’ll show you how, one night at a time.
-Dr. Valerie Cacho