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Sleep Awareness Week (March)

March 2-8th is National Sleep Awareness Week. Sleep is very important for everyone. 1,500 deaths are directly related to sleep deprivation. (National Sleep Foundation) When an individual does not get enough sleep the brain does not work as well. After a night of no sleep students did 40% worse memorizing lists of words. "Sleep enhances the memories."(CBS) Lack of sleep has been found to affect your ability to think fast, react quickly and to remember things. Each night in which sleep is deprived brain function depletes. It is very beneficial to get the proper amount of sleep; when you feel tired just go to sleep.

Researchers found that sleep deprived people have severe mood swings going from extremely happy to sad rather quickly. A normal brain's waves look very similar to that of psychiatric patients when deprived of sleep. It is very dangerous to drive, operate machinery or do any other task while sleep deprived. The average amount of sleep an adult should be getting would be 8-8.4 hours but the average American adult actually gets around 6.7 hours of sleep each night. One hour each night makes a huge difference in mental capacity and functioning. (National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)

With lack of sleep comes hunger, since you are staying up longer. After six days of a study when the individual got four hours of sleep a night he had the signs of pre-diabetes. Staying awake for longer amounts of time increased the desire to eat. Lack of sleep decreased the amount of the hormone leptin which tells the body when you are full. There have been many studies linking short sleep with obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

There was one study which sleep was interrupted 346 times with sounds. (National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) After "waking up" the subject is hungrier, less alert, and shockingly no longer able to metabolize sugar effectively. Sleep affects everything from hunger, memory, metabolism, how we age and how we interact with a significant other. (CBS) Many people believe caffeine and energy drinks can help reduce the effects of sleep deprivation. These only help when the first onset of deprivation occurs. (NINDS)

If you are at all worried about the amount of sleep you get do not attempt to drive; this could cause an accident. There are many sleeping conditions, poor sleep habits, snoring, insomnia ( when the individual can not fall asleep), sleep apnea (when the person stops breathing during sleep), Narcolepsy ( falling asleep in the middle of an activity), sleepwalking. If you are experiencing any of these sleeping problems go to your healthcare provider for a consultation. (Sleep Disorders Center)

Information provided by Brittany Burke Intern working with Dana Breeding RN Health Educator from Community Wellness, at Augusta Health. To contact Dana H. Breeding RN related to the above information, please call (540) 332-4988) or ((540) 932-4988.