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Educational health information to improve your well-being.

The Importance of Getting a Full Night's Sleep

August 23, 2019
Published in: Sleep

Woman in bed with her hand on an alarm clock, trying to snooze for a few more minutes

We all know that feeling when our alarm goes off in the morning, but we just don't want to get out of bed! If you're like most Americans, the lack of a good night's sleep is impacting your energy level, your productivity, and could lead to serious health complications. Don't push your exhaustion to the side, pay attention to your energy levels throughout the day and your general well being as these could be signs of sleep deprivation. A study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that more than one-third of American adults are getting less than seven hours of sleep on a regular basis. Most experts agree that between seven to nine hours of sleep per night is optimal for adults.

It's important to remember that sleep is just as important as diet and exercise for maintaining good health. Not only is sleep important for our daily functioning, it has many systemic health benefits.

Your Body on Sleep

Sleep accounts for nearly one-third of the human lifespan. Not only is sleep important for our daily functioning, it has many systemic health benefits. Sleep helps control our metabolism and weight, promotes stable moods, helps prevent cardiovascular diseases, boosts our immune system/function, increases knowledge retention, and helps us with long and short-term memory.

Sleep is also essential for brain functioning. "Sleep is a period during which the brain is engaged in a number of activities necessary to life - which are closely linked to the quality of life." says Johns Hopkins sleep expert and neurologist Mark Wu, M.D., Ph.D. According to research done at Johns Hopkins, sleep is vital for brain plasticity and helps with the removal of waste products from brain cells.

Your body does incredible things while you are sleeping. Remember, sleeping less than seven hours per night could have a negative impact on your overall health. From keeping our bodies healthy to providing the energy and focus we all need to get through the day, sleep is a key factor for our quality of life.

The Impact of Sleep Deprivation

Woman runner holding her chestSleep deprivation is a serious issue in the United States. It's estimated that one in five Americans are chronically sleep deprived. However, even one night of sleep deprivation can put a person at risk of illness or injury. Here are some common way that sleep deprivation can impact your health and safety:

  • Can Cause Accidents: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the US.
  • Puts Your Heart At Risk: Sleep deprivation can put you at risk for heart attack, heart disease, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.
  • Lowers Your Sex Drive: Sleep Specialists say that sleep-deprived men & women report lower libidos & less interest in sex when they are sleep deprived.
  • Ages Your Skin: When you don't get enough sleep your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down your skin's collagen.
  • Causes Weight Gain:People who sleep less than six hours a day are 30% more likely to become obese than those who slept 7-9 hours.

Uncovering Sleep Deprivation

Man resting his head on the desk while at workSleep Deprivation is not classified as a specific disease. It is generally caused by other illnesses or life circumstances. In the United States, sleep deprivation is becoming more common as we try to fit as much as possible into our days and push sleep to the back burner. Here are some common warning signs of sleep deprivation.

Initial Symptoms

  • Drowsiness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Impaired memory
  • Reduced physical strength
  • Diminished ability to fight off infections

Complications Over Time

  • Increased risk for depression and mental illness
  • Increased risk for stroke. heart disease, and asthma attack
  • Increased risk for potentially life-threatening complications, such as car accidents, and untreated sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe mood swings

Sleep specialists say that one of the telltale signs of sleep deprivation is feeling drowsy during the day. In fact, even if a task is boring, you should stay alert during it if you are not sleep-deprived. Also, if you frequently fall asleep within five minutes of lying down, then you likely have severe sleep deprivation. People with sleep deprivation also experience "microsleeps," which are brief periods of sleep during waking time. In many cases, sleep deprived people may not even be aware that they are experiencing these microsleeps.

Sleep Health Resources at Augusta Health

We all need sleep to maintain physical and mental health and overall well-being. Sleep disorders can rob you of a good night's sleep and cause excessive daytime fatigue. At the Augusta Health Sleep Clinic, our team will work to find the cause of your sleep disorder.