Sometimes the things we take for granted can have a much greater impact than we first think! I’ve personally struggled with my sleep for many years, waking up multiple times a night due to my obstructive sleep apnea. But after getting treatment for it, I’ve realized what an incredible health factor sleep is. Every system in the body, large and small, relies on sleep to function at its peak level.

            Unfortunately for us, as we age, our sleep quality tends to deteriorate, so it’s important to improve it and take it seriously as early as possible.

Implications of Sleep Deprivation

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            100 years ago, 3% of the population was considered sleep deprived. Today that number has spiked as high as 66% of individuals suffering from sleep deprivation[1]. What are the implications?

            These only touch on a few of the negative impact on your body associated with a lack of sleep. There doesn’t appear to be a single major organ, or function, in the body that isn’t detrimentally affected.

            Emotional regulation, or the ability to control emotional responses, is strongly affected by  sleep. Psychological well-being, again is impacted by sleep. Ever meet a person who’s poorly navigating a social interaction, or getting upset over nothing at all? Ask them how they have been sleeping? Sufficient sleep allows us to handle difficult situations, with more grace and understanding.

            Cardiovascular Wisdom: Sleep deprivation affects blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and breathing rate. It’s no wonder that a single night of poor sleep can negatively affect athletic performance by as much as 30%[1]! But where is all this sleep-loss stemming from?

What’s Causing It?

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            We’ve become nonchalant towards sleep. Night falls… on go the lights. Pub outings late in the night, or even going to the 24-hour gym. Do you see a pattern? Light, light, and more light to overcome night.

What is the common line of thinking with many jobs,  sleep less, work more. Between the financial, medical, and tech industries, there are a great many in our society that function on sleep deprivation. Sleep has a close relationship with productivity, and as sleep increases so does the quality of work, even profits have been shown to climb in companies that promote sleep health [1].

With modern technological advances come good and bad developments… artificial light, smartphones, televisions late at night.

            Everyone experiences different reasons and pressures as to why they should forego sleep. It’s inarguable, your immediate emotional state and well-being is directly related to sleep, your long-term cardiovascular health and longevity again are impacted by sleep. So what to do?

What Can We Do?

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1.       Start taking your sleep seriously!

2.      Make a sleep schedule that’s consistent, and stick to it!

3.      Charge your phone in another room. Make your bedroom a no phone sleep zone!

4.      The hour prior to sleep should be slow and quiet, and should be spent away from screens that emit blue-wavelength light.

5.      Develop routines. Even if you’re a shift worker, set something you can stick to (One routine for shift work and one for no shift work). Your body loves routines.

6.      Limit caffeine intake to the earlier half of the day.

7.      Limit alcohol and THC intake near bed.

            Have a good sleep tonight, and let us know if there’s anything special that helps your sleep that we’ve overlooked!

 

References:

1.       Walker M. Why we sleep: unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. New York, NY: Scribner; 2017: 1-7.

By Kyle Rawlek

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