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Keys to staying well rested in 2018
Gaylord Herald Times - 1/1/2018
You're on your fourth cup of coffee before noon, with another pot already brewing.
Why? It was another sleepless night, and you're feeling the effects from your head to your toes.
Sleep deprivation affects more than a third of American adults, according to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"It's like any biological system, sleep has a bell-shaped curve. Most people, if you look at adults, require 7-8 hours of sleep, but you will run into some people who physiologically only need 4-5 hours, and you may also see people who need 10-12 hours," said Dr. David Knitter of the Center for Pulmonary Sleep Medicine.
Sleeping less than 7 hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and frequent mental distress, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The recommended hours of sleep each person should get daily varies by age. Infants between 4-12 months should be getting 12-16 hours of sleep, preschoolers age 3-5 years should get 10-13 hours of sleep, teens ages 13-18 should get 8-10 hours of sleep, adults ages 18-60 should have 7 or more hours, and adults 65 and over should be getting between 7-8 hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Sleep is important to your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
While there are many sleep disorders that vary in symptoms and intensity, sleep deprivation involves not being able to obtain the total amount of sleep recommended.
"Sleep deprivation affects everybody, the manifestation tends to be different based on age," Knitter said. "Kids who are not getting enough sleep tend towards the hyperactivity side ... in Germany, every child that goes in for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) actually gets a sleep study done. There is a high correlation between ADHD and sleep deprivation."
Symptoms of sleep deprivation can include excessive sleepiness, fatigue, clumsiness, weight loss or gain, moodiness and lack of attention.
While some symptoms can be noted by the individual experiencing them, there are underlying health concerns attributed to sleep deprivation as well. While you sleep, you "recharge," giving your brain and cognitive functions a moment of rest.
"I think it was a TED Talk that came up with this visual: what happens when we go into a deep sleep, the spaces between our neurons, the brain cells, opens up and it allows the spinal fluid to pass through the brain like waves on a beach. So, it's described as if you think of a brain at the end of a day like a really busy beach, and at the end of that day there's sand castles and holes and disruptions," Knitter said. "When you go to sleep, it's like waves coming in and they smooth out the sand and the next day, it looks pretty again. The spinal fluid, when it comes through, like these waves, it clears out protein accumulation."
Sleep deprivation can also hinder the body's ability to control hormones, including a decrease or increase in specific hormones' activities.
"Sleep deprivation enhanced activity on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis: this is the regulator of body functions such as the immune system, digestion, sex, mood, or energy usage; in addition to controlling reactions to stress," the American Sleep Association notes.
Depriving the body of the sleep it needs to recharge and restore can have an effect on the immune system, weight loss or weight gain and even depression.
Some of the main causes of sleep deprivation of both the quality and quantity of sleep per night is overstimulating your brain prior to sleep and not being consistent, according to Knitter.
"The single best piece of advice is to try to be very consistent in when you go to sleep and when you wake up," Knitter said. "You need to figure out for yourself how much sleep you do need to be at peak function. There's some people who have to have 8 hours, 9 hours or even 10, so you have to answer that question for yourself."
One of the biggest culprits behind sleep fragmentation and sleep deprivation is the advancement of technology and our habits to bring them with us to bed.
"Unfortunately, modern technology is the worse invention with regards to sleep. Too many people keep their phones too close to themselves and the fear of missing out, our body becomes accustom to it, and it's reward. Hearing your phone ding is striking your reward center and that's a really powerful motivator in our brain," Knitter said.
While some may seek the help of a professional with their sleep disorders, there are ways to help ensure you're getting the right amount and quality of sleep per night.
To help quiet the mind and stop yourself from tomorrow's worrying, try journaling, recommends Knitter.
"Get your ideas out of your head for the next day, when you close the book, it can help you sleep," Knitter said.
Making sure your bedroom is lit with a more calming light, like a 40-watt light bulb, can give you enough light to read without overstimulating your brain.
"Some people go to the extreme of trying to eliminate blue light (light produced by screens), but my recommendation is at least half an hour prior to turning lights out, no screens of any type, no smartphone, no computer or tablet. It's best to engage in an activity your mind finds relaxing, such as reading, or if you like, to draw or knit," Knitter said.