Lethal Lethargy: How Poor Sleep Affects Your Health
A poor night’s sleep can set you up for a bad day, leaving you drowsy, irritable, and unfocused. But the long-term health effects of poor sleep health are much more serious than a lethargic day at work.
Studies suggest that adequate sleep is as critical to good health as proper diet and exercise, yet more than 25 percent of adults in the United States report that they regularly get insufficient sleep.
The American trend of insufficient sleep – defined as less than six hours per night – has grown steadily in the past three decades. During the past 30 years, the number of people working full-time who report getting less than six hours of sleep per night has risen significantly. Left untreated, their poor sleep health can damage their physical health, increase risk of accidents, and affect mental and emotional well-being.
Poor sleep health is associated with long-term health outcomes including chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease – all conditions associated with shortened life expectancy.
The prevalence of poor physical health outcomes increases for those already living with chronic conditions like sleep apnea, which not only interrupts sleep but also limits the oxygen taken in by the body and brain, further increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression. Insufficient sleep for sufferers of chronic conditions doubles down on poor and deteriorating health.
Good sleep is associated with clear thinking, strong memory, and decision-making skills; poor sleep impairs those abilities, which can ultimately impact the ability to think creatively, problem solve, and focus on the task at hand.
Most dangerous, though, is the impact of poor sleeping on driving abilities. According to a poll done by the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of Americans have driven while drowsy, and 37 percent had fallen asleep while behind the wheel. Drivers who have trouble concentrating and staying awake are at much higher risk of being involved in an accident, and nearly 20 percent of all serious car crash injuries are associated with driver sleepiness. This makes poor sleep not only a public health issue, but an issue of public safety.
When you get the recommended amount of sleep, you cycle through two important categories: quiet sleep, which boosts the immune system; and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is key to learning, memory and emotional health. When sleep is interrupted, these physiological and psychological improvements are disrupted as well, impeding healthy regulation of emotion and thinking.
It’s no surprise, then, that psychologists have found correlations between sleep disorders and mental health; those with sleep disorders also have a higher risk of experiencing mental health conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These conditions not only contribute to poor emotional well-being, but can negatively impact overall health and well-being.
There are still gaps when it comes to education surrounding sleep. Fortunately, researchers have recognized that the first step to improve the lives of those suffering from sleep disorders is increasing awareness so patients can recognize their symptoms, understand the risks they face, and ultimately reach out to their providers.
At Reliable Respiratory, we’ve made knowledge about sleep a priority as we aim to support the continuing education of our customers after their sleep apnea diagnosis. We pride ourselves not only on our unbeatable quality of sleep apnea equipment, but we also support customers with first-in-class staffing and training – designed to bring patients the best respiratory solutions and healthy sleep.
Our goal is to provide our customers with the tools they need to get better sleep, leading to improved health and a better life.