Experts have long advocated for 7-8 hours of sleep a night, but in today’s fast-paced world, hitting that benchmark often proves difficult. Paoli residents who fail to get consistent, quality sleep often pay the price when it comes to their physical and mental health.
Too Few Zzz’s Can Cause Problems
Busy work schedules and too many distractions have led to a rise in sleep disorders in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. Unfortunately, many people fail to recognize the warning signs – a list that includes waking up tired (and battling fatigue during the day), frequent trips to the bathroom overnight and needing a daily nap for an afternoon pick-me-up. And these are only the obvious signs; not getting enough sleep leads to a higher risk of serious health complications such as anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and stroke. In addition, you’ll have an increased risk of experiencing the following:
- Accidents and injuries. You need sleep for good reflexes; not getting enough will lead to slower reaction times, increasing the likelihood that you’ll be involved in an automobile accident or job-related injury. Sleep deprivation played a major role in some of the most notorious global catastrophes, including the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, Exxon Valdez oil spill and Chernobyl nuclear meltdown.
- Reduced mental alertness. When you don’t get enough sleep, attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem-solving abilities all suffer. You’re likely to experience memory impairment and poor academic performance, as well.
- Low sex drive. The decrease in energy levels associated with sleeplessness can affect your sex drive. Both men and women experience lowered libidos when they don’t get enough sleep. Additionally, men who suffer from a sleep disorder called sleep apnea have lower testosterone levels, which contribute to the problem.
- Skin problems. We’ve all experienced puffiness around the eyes following a night of poor sleep. When the problem is chronic, it can lead to sallow skin, wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes – a byproduct of cortisol, a stress hormone that damages collagen in the skin.
- Weight gain. Sleep signals an appetite-suppressing compound in the body that you have had enough to eat, while a lack of sleep does the opposite – it stimulates hunger. Your risk of obesity is 30 percent higher if you get consistently poor sleep.
Symptoms such as these are rarely attributed to a lack of sleep; people in Paoli tend to attribute them to the stresses of everyday life instead or consider them an inevitable part of aging. Ignoring the problem can have deadly consequences: one British research study showed that individuals who reduced their nightly sleep from seven hours to five had almost double the risk of death from all causes; heart disease rates, in particular, were much higher.
Your Paoli ear, nose and throat specialist will diagnose a sleep disorder by ordering a sleep test. These are typically performed in a laboratory setting or, more commonly nowadays, at home. The results will help your doctor figure out the cause of your restless nights and come up with a treatment plan designed to help you sleep better.
If you’re not sleeping well, we urge you to contact your Paoli ENT for an appointment.