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Sacrificing Sleep

Posted on November 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

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.