Not getting enough sleep can affect your ability to perform safely on the job and behind the wheel of a car, according to a recient CDC study. It can also have serious adverse effects on your health, according to research which has linked insomnia to high blood pressure, congestive heart conditions, diabetes, and other ailments.
A study at West Virginia University’s faculty of medicine, published in the journal Sleep, found that people who slept fewer than five hours a day (including naps) more than doubled their risk of angina, coronary heart conditions, heart attack or stroke. In addition, sleeping more than seven hours also increased the risk of cardiovascular conditions.
The study found that participants who reported sleeping nine hours or more per day were one-and-a-half times more likely than those who slept seven-hours per day to develop cardiovascular problems.
Those most at-risk were adults under the age of 60 who slept five hours or less per day. Their risk of developing cardiovascular problems was more than three times higher than those who slept seven hours per day.
Women who got five hours or less of sleep per day (including naps) were more than two-and-a-half times more likely to develop cardiovascular conditions than those who slept seven hours per day.
According to CDC estimates, more than 40 million workers get fewer than six hours of sleep per night, which is less than the optimal seven to nine hours of sleep per night recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. This means about 30% of the American workforce is tired on the job, and the CDC says these drowsy workers pose real health and safety risks to themselves and to others. In 2010, a total of 4,547 workers died from occupational injuries, and approximately 49,000 died from work-related illnesses.
In addition, the CDC estimates that 20% of automobile accidents each year are caused by sleepy drivers.
Health Impacts of Sleep Deprivation
Impaired or deficient sleep can:
- Increase your risk of high blood pressure.
- Increase your risk of heart conditions.
- Increase your risk of diabetes.
- Weaken your immune system.
- Increase your risk of stomach ulcers.
- Increase constipation.
- Contribute to depression and mood disorders.
- Contribute to weight gain.
- Impair your memory and mental focus.
- Contribute to premature aging because it disrupts your body’s natural production of growth hormones that are released by the pituitary gland during the deep sleep phase in the sleep cycle.
Sleep deprivation is serious, according to Mark W. Mahowald, MD, neurologist and director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Rochester, Minnesota. “One of the biggest myths is that sleep is negotiable and something that we can get by with less and less of.”
“Any degree of sleep deprivation impairs performance or mood,” he says. “Our society has got to learn to respect sleep as biologically imperative. Getting a good night’s sleep is as important as exercising regularly and eating a good diet.”
In agreement is Shelby Freedman Harris, Psy.D., director of behavioral sleep medicine at Montefiore Medical Center’s Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in New York City. She says, “When you’re sleeping you’re regulating hormone levels, you’re regulating insulin levels, your blood pressure is being kept under control, there are a lot of things going on, and if you’re not getting enough sleep you’re throwing these things out of whack.”
While sleeping, your body performs all kinds of important restorative and health maintenance activities such as repairing tissues, producing hormones, and strengthening and consolidating memories. Without adequate sleep, these critical functions go undone, leaving the door open for a myriad of serious health problems.
Sleep Remedies & Tips to Improve Your Sleep
The good news is there’s rest for the weary. Try the following sleep remedies and tips to improve the quality of your sleep:
- Stick to a routine sleeping schedule with about 7 hours of sleep per night, including on the weekends.
- Enjoy a relaxing bedtime ritual one hour before you want to fall asleep. For instance, dim the lights, light some candles, take a soothing bath, listen to soft music, etc.
- Make your bedroom a “sleep sanctuary” that is dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable. Put black-out curtains on your windows or cover them with aluminum foil to block out all ambient light. Don’t watch TV, use your computer or read in bed because these activities can cut into your sleeping time or make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Sleep on a quality mattress and make sure your pillow is firm enough to support your head and keep your neck and spine in a straight alignment.
- Don’t eat 2-3 hours before your bedtime.
- Don’t exercise within 3 hours before your bedtime. Exercise earlier in the day.
- Don’t drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages before bedtime.
- Quit smoking.
- Take herbal sleep remedies to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep during the night.
Take Natural Herbal Sleep Remedies
To help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly all through the night, one of the best sleep remedies is Healthy Choice Naturals Sleep Well Naturals. It is an all-natural sleep aid supplement which contains herbal ingredients that are known to promote restful, restorative sleep so you can awaken feeling refreshed and alert in the mornings, without grogginess.
To combat sleeping problems, many people turn to prescription medications or over-the-counter sleep remedies, but most of them contain dangerous and addictive narcotic drugs. Sleep Well Naturals is drug-free, non-addictive, and all natural, so it’s safe to take without any side effects. It’s one of the best herbal sleep remedies available and it comes with a 90-day, satisfaction guarantee, so you can try it risk-free.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2010) Long-term study links chronic insomnia to increased risk of death.Available: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100607065559.htm Last Accessed: 5/30/12
- Harding, Anne. (2012) How Lack of Sleep Hurts Your Health.Available: http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20573185,00.htmlLast Accessed: 5/30/12
- National Sleep Foundation (2012) How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?Available: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need Last Accessed: 5/30/12
- Jaslow, Ryan.(2012) 41 Million American Workers Don’t Get Enough Sleep, CDC Says. Available: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57422902-10391704/41-million-american-workers-dont-get-enough-sleep-cdc-says/
Last Accessed: 5/30/12
- Luckhaupt, M.D., Sara (2012) Short Sleep Duration Among Workers — United States 2010Available: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6116a2.htm?s_cid=mm6116a2_wLast Accessed: 5/30/12
- Rubin, Rita, (2012) Insomnia Can Be Dangerous, But There’s Rest for the Weary.Available: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20120119/insomnia-problem-needs-taken-seriouslyLast Accessed: 5/30/12
- Zeitvogel, AFP, Karin (2010) 7 Hours Sleep Just Right. Available: http://news.discovery.com/human/sleep-seven-hours.htmlLast Accessed: 5/30/12
- Rubin, Rita. (2012). Insomnia Can Be Dangerous, But There’s Rest for the Weary. Available: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20120119/insomnia-problem-needs-taken-seriously.Last accessed 5/30/12.