Like good nutrition and exercise, adequate sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle. Sleep deprivation is an unrecognized cause of many problems, including accidents, illness, and poor job performance. It affects many people, and it’s on the rise. Find out how your sleep habits could be affecting you, and what you can do to get a good night’s sleep.
Are you getting enough sleep?
How much sleep do you really need? In general, most adults need about 7 hours of sleep per night. Children and adolescents need even more – around 9 or 10 hours per night. However, the amount of sleep people need varies widely, ranging from 5 to 10 hours per night. The important thing is to find out how much sleep you need to stay healthy and alert, and then try to get this amount of sleep each night.
The right amount of sleep is the amount that lets you wake up feeling refreshed and well. You may be able to function on the amount of sleep you are getting now, but it still may not be enough for you to reach your full potential. Here’s how to tell if you’re not getting enough sleep:
If you notice any of these signs, you may not be getting enough sleep. Try to gradually increase the amount of sleep you get each night until you find the right amount – you’ll know that you’ve got it when these signs start to go away. If you haven’t been getting enough sleep for a long time, it may take a while to recover. If you’ve tried everything and still have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, talk to your doctor. You may have a sleep disorder.
Problems caused by sleep deprivation
Some people choose to “get away” with less sleep, and this attitude is often rewarded in our society. But lack of sleep can actually make you less productive, even if you feel as though you’re getting more done. And sleep deprivation can do much more than hurt your productivity – it can damage your health as well.
Sleep helps your body to repair itself. It also helps your mind absorb and “file” the day’s learning. When we deprive ourselves of sleep, we notice the effects both mentally and physically. In the short term, these effects include:
These short-term effects can affect our relationships, our performance at work or school, and our ability to enjoy life. They may even increase the risk of injury and accidents at work or on the road.
After only a few days of sleep deprivation, the body undergoes changes similar to “fast-forward” aging: memory loss, metabolism problems (with sugar and hormones), and poor athletic performance. If sleep deprivation continues over the long term, it increases the risk of more serious health problems, such as:
The good news is that you can prevent these long-term problems by recognizing the early signs that you aren’t getting enough sleep, and increasing the amount of sleep you’re getting until you feel well rested. But remember: the greater the “sleep debt” that you have, the longer it will take to recover.
If you’ve tried everything and still don’t seem to be getting enough sleep, speak with your doctor. Your sleep problems may be due to a medical condition or one of the medications you are taking. Most sleep problems can be diagnosed and treated safely and effectively.
Some of the most common sleep disorders are:
You may want to keep a “sleep diary” for a couple of weeks before your visit to the doctor. This will help you describe your problem thoroughly to the doctor. It may also help your doctor identify patterns in your sleep. Your “sleep diary” could include:
You should also make note of your current medical conditions and medications. Before you visit your doctor, it is helpful to make a list of the questions you would like to ask and the information you would like to find out from the doctor. Many people realize they have forgotten to ask an important question only after they’ve left the doctor’s office. You may want to bring your bed partner to your doctor’s appointment (or at least talk to them before the appointment) – this person has seen (and heard!) you sleeping and may be able to help your doctor diagnose and treat any sleep disorders you may have.
Most sleep disorders can be safely and effectively treated. Finding and treating a sleep disorder could make a huge difference in your life!
Tips on getting a good night’s sleep
Do you wake up feeling refreshed, alert, and ready to meet the challenges of the day? If not, here are some tips to help you get there:
If you try these tips and still find that you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. You may have a medical condition that is affecting your sleep. Also, check with your pharmacist to find out if the medications you are taking could be affecting your sleep.
Q: Is it safe to use natural vitamins and supplements during treatment for cancer?
A: During cancer treatment, it’s important to boost your immune system and people often turn to supplements thinking these will help. But, as some supplements have the potential to actually interfere with your cancer treatment, you should be cautious. No matter how harmless you think vitamins and supplements might be, check with your pharmacist or doctor about possible interactions with your other medications.
Do you have more questions? Speak with your Live Well Pharmacist.
If you are having issues with your digestion, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms like gas, bloating, irregularity and heartburn. Boost your digestive system and overall health by including probiotic foods such as yogurt and other cultured dairy products in your daily diet or consider making probiotic supplements part of your everyday routine.
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