Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why Americans Don't Sleep Well

Amen. JR
Why are 70 million Americans having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? Let us count the ways:
We are over-caffeinated (coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks, snacks) and over-medicated (prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including alcohol), wreaking havoc with slumber patterns.
We are over-wired (video games, Web browsing, social media, texting) and overstressed (money, work, relationships, overloaded schedules), making us too restless to doze off when we should.
We are overworked (longer hours, night shifts incompatible with our biological clocks) and overweight (perhaps a chicken-or-egg deal, as different studies have found that one leads to the other).
And then there’s societal pressure, what nationally recognized sleep expert Dr. Mark Mahowald calls “the pervasive, erroneous attitude that sleep is not a biological imperative, that it is negotiable. We have raised sleep deprivation to a badge of honor.”
The effects might outnumber the causes, and are hardly as benign as many of us might think. “Any degree of sleep deprivation will impair performance: behind the wheel, in the classroom or workplace,” Mahowald said.
He added that the Bhopal, Challenger, Exxon Valdez and Three Mile Island disasters “all are officially attributed to problems from sleep deprivation. But the biggest risk of sleep deprivation is car crashes, period.”
No wonder the number of accredited sleep centers has risen nationwide by 630 percent in just 15 years. And while sleep study results have been all over the map and sometimes contradictory, experts such as local doctors Mahowald and Michael Schmitz know a lot more than researchers did even a decade ago.
• With sleep deprivation, some glucose metabolism problems might predispose one to diabetes. And if so, a consequence could be heart disease and stroke.
• With insomnia, there is no evidence of long-term physical problems or links to other diseases. But insomnia results in poorer quality of life and work absences and can lead to depression.
• There is some evidence that severe sleep apnea can lead to hypertension, heart problems and a higher risk of strokes.
• Improving sleep hygiene -- avoiding late eating and drinking, keeping the room cool and dark, winding down before bedtime -- can improve or resolve transient or acute insomnia but probably not chronic insomnia.
• For chronic insomnia, cognitive behavioral therapy is equally as or more effective than medications. Medication often is useful for acute insomnia.
• Naps can help -- except when they don’t. “We discourage napping when anyone has problems falling or staying asleep at night, which might be an untreated sleep disorder,” said behavioral sleep specialist Schmitz. “We encourage power naps, 30 minutes or less, when folks can’t stay awake or will have late-night events.”
• See your doctor if: You have had difficulty falling and staying asleep for more than a week. Or if you snore, have frequent awakenings and are reporting sleepiness during the day. Anyone with apnea symptoms should seek treatment.
Read more here
Read more here: http://www.macon.com/2012/04/09/1981741/americans-are-too-busy-drink-too.html#storylink=cpy

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