If you try to wind down at night by scrolling through Facebook or catching up on emails, you may be doing yourself more harm than good. The director of Fort Sanders Regional Sleep Disorder Center says the very tools you’re using to wind down, could be winding you up, instead.
“That blue light is more of an alerting stimulus,” says Thomas Higgins, MD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Fort Sanders Regional. “So it’s a good idea to turn off all your electronic devices 30 minutes to an hour before you go to bed.”
Another common barrier to a good night’s sleep is a hard day’s work. Participants in a recent study who reported sleeping six hours or less at night usually reported working an average of one to two hours more per day than their counterparts who slept longer.
You may be getting more hours of work in when you sacrifice sleep for your job, but Higgins says the quality of your work is probably suffering in the process.
“Every part of the body is affected by sleep, including the brain,” Higgins says. “Emotional stability, concentration and alertness are affected, and things we learn are processed while we sleep.”
Higgins says recent studies have shown that the brain produces chemicals while we’re awake that need to be cleared out during sleep. “If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can actually physically damage the brain,” Higgins says. “People who have sleep apnea and insufficient sleep are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease at an earlier age, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems.”
Sleep deprived workers are more likely to overeat, too. Higgins says insufficient sleep over a period of time affects brain chemistry and the hormones that help regulate appetite, so you tend to eat more high carbohydrate, fatty foods.
While there’s no magic number of hours every person needs to sleep, Higgins says most adults should try to get 7 to 9 hours of shut eye, and teens should sleep for 8 to 9 hours every night.
If you’re getting the recommended amount of sleep most nights but still feel sleepy during the day, you could be suffering from a sleep disorder.
Visit fsregional.com/ sleepcenter to learn more about sleep disorders, and how the center may be able to help you get the rest you need.