Health Advisory

Are You Getting Enough Sleep? Here's Why It Matters

You may have noticed that lack of sleep affects your mood and energy level, but it can have health consequences as well.

For people who are always on the go, a good night’s sleep may feel like a low priority—but it’s not. Sleep is essential to the health of your body and brain, and new research suggests that people need more sleep during the winter months.

This week, most of the United States makes the switch to daylight saving time, and losing an hour of sleep affects our bodies. The time change can cause sleep deprivation and sleepiness that lingers for weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Coping with Insomnia? Take It Seriously.

You may have noticed that lack of sleep lowers your mood and energy level, but it can have health consequences as well. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, insomnia has a negative effect on everything from your work performance, to your decision-making, to your relationships.

Insomnia also makes other medical conditions more difficult to manage. Ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity. Your immune system needs deep sleep to help you fight common infections.

Worried that you’re not getting enough sleep? First of all, try not to stress about it, because that could make it even harder for you to fall asleep. Your sleep problems have a solution. If you only struggle to fall asleep once in a while, this list of tips from Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine may be enough to help you get on a better sleep schedule.

If you regularly have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, consider making an appointment with a sleep specialist. This Johns Hopkins article includes a list of sleep-related topics to discuss with your doctor.

You may need a sleep study. Sleep studies, which usually involve spending the night in a sleep lab, monitor data about your body to analyze how well you’re sleeping. They can help diagnose sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, an extreme form of snoring in which your airway becomes blocked, causing you to wake up during the night.

Make Sleep a Priority.

While a lack of sleep can be dangerous, good sleep habits can add years to your life. A new study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology found that people with better sleep habits live longer. The study evaluated sleep quality on five factors: “ideal sleep duration of seven to eight hours a night; difficulty falling asleep no more than two times a week; trouble staying asleep no more than two times a week; not using any sleep medication; and feeling well rested after waking up at least five days a week.”

Another recent study found that a consistent sleep schedule may help protect your heart. Try to make it a habit to head to bed at around the same time each night.

If you’d sleep better knowing that your health is in good hands, reach out to an expert health advisor. We can help you address these issues, refer you to the best sleep centers, and provide additional information, guidance, and support throughout the process.

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