Sleep & Your Healh

You’re tired. You could put your head down on a desk right now and fall asleep immediately. You went to bed late last night, had trouble falling asleep and woke up too early. And let’s not kid ourselves. Reality is quite different. Sleep is often one of the first things to go when people feel pressed for time. Many view sleep as a luxury and think that the benefits of limiting the hours they spend asleep outweigh the costs. People often overlook the potential long-term health consequences of insufficient sleep, and the impact that health problems can ultimately have on one’s time and productivity.

Insomnia is said to be the most common sleep disorder, but these dissatisfying sleep experiences only get in the way of daily activities for 10 percent of us, according to the National Institutes of Health, And in almost half of those cases, the real underlying problem is illness (often mental) or the effects of a substance, like coffee or medication. Sleep is a periodic state of rest for the human body which is completely essential for its efficient functioning. Sleep offers relief from tension, rests the brain and human anatomy and a person wakes up within the morning fresh and relaxed after sleep. The total amount of rest, however, varies within extremely wide limits from individual to individual.Normally, 7-8 hours of rest each night is adequate for most of us. Some, do well with four to five hours because their sleep is deeper and more refreshing. Getting too much sleep may increase the risk for heart disease early on as research suggests especially in women.

The findings are interesting because guidelines for healthy sleep typically emphasize the need to get an adequate amount of sleep. Potentially, too much sleep is also something to be concerned with, and future studies should explore this relationship more. It’s recommended that adults ages 65 years and older get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The next step for research will be to look at whether getting too little or too much sleep is linked with actual cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes, rather than looking at a person’s predicted risk.

Lack of sleep affects more than just the person who is short on shut-eye. Fatigue has been linked to accidents both large and small. Without enough sleep, your brain struggles to perform basic functions. You may find it hard to concentrate or remember things. You may become moody and lash out at co-workers or people you love. Just as your brain needs sleep to restore itself, so does your body does too. When you do not have enough sleep, your risk goes up for several illnesses. Talk with your health care provider if you are often tired during the day, or lack of sleep makes it hard to do daily activities. There are treatments available to improve sleep.

Doctors can diagnose some sleep disorders by asking questions about sleep schedules and habits and by getting information from sleep partners or parents. To diagnose other sleep disorders, doctors also use the results from sleep studies and other medical tests. Your doctor will do a physical exam to rule out other medical problems that might interfere with sleep. You may need blood tests to check for thyroid problems or other conditions that can cause sleep problems.

Celeste Botonakis

On the Nursing Assistant Guides blog, certified medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CMA. She'll keep you up-to-date with the latest on what’s happening in the field, and provides tips for those who are interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois. Click here to learn more about Celeste Botonakis and