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How Important is a Good Night’s Sleep to Your Overall Health?

When was the last time you got a full night of sleep?

Between taking care of your family, having difficulty unwinding after a long day, and outside distractions, it can be hard to get the proper rest your body desperately needs.

Like most people, you vow to solve your lack of sleep problem with an extra strong coffee, an energy drink, or a big breakfast to get you through the day.

… and that is all well and good until you face serious health problems down the road.

There is no substitute for a good night’s sleep

When you stay up too late watching videos on your phone or reading “one more chapter” of your book, it’s easy to say “I’ll get more sleep tomorrow night.” But it never happens because you repeat the same pattern every night until it seems natural.

By getting half to two thirds of the recommended 7.5-8 hours of sleep a night, you’re creating a “sleep debt” that cannot be repaid by sleeping longer on different nights or staying in bed all weekend.

Not getting enough sleep has more than personal consequences

As of 2017, 20% of Canadians were getting between six and seven hours of sleep per night. Six per cent of people were getting less than six hours a night.

Sure, 6% doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you start to look at it from an economical standpoint, the effects are staggering.

According to a report by the Rand Corporation, Canada loses 600,000 working hours every year due to lack of sleep. Those hours take away $21 billion from the economy, which at the time of the study was 1.35% of Canada’s GDP.

A lack of quality sleep is slowly but surely damaging your body

Sleep deprivation can kill you.

Not directly, but it is closely linked to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression, and motor vehicle accidents.

If you’re one of those people who swears they’re getting eight or nine hours of sleep and still wakes up tired, you may have an underlying condition that no amount of caffeine will fix. Two of the most common are sleep apnea or UARS (Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome) and they can both interfere with your plans of healthy living.

How does sleep affect your overall health?

Not only does a lack of sleep drain your mental capacity, it’s a real threat to your physical health. Research has produced sobering statistics, including:

  • 65-80% of stroke patients have sleep apnea
  • One third of patients with coronary artery disease have obstructive sleep apnea
  • Patients with obstructive sleep apnea are three times more likely to develop diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of having a heart attack by 23%, the same amount as being an obese smoker with high blood pressure.

And those are just the “major” side effects. You’re also at risk of weight gain, erectile dysfunction, hormonal imbalances like menopause, insulin resistance, and many more problems.

If you want to see if your loved one has an undiagnosed sleep disorder, record audio and video footage of them sleeping. If their mouth is open, they’re snoring, restless, and having difficulty breathing or making choking noises, this is indicative of a sleep disorder and should be shown to their doctor.

What is the best way to get a good night’s sleep?

It begins with addressing and dealing with the problem, not making it invisible.

This means staying away from the “stop snoring” appliances you can purchase in the store. These are designed to make you stop snoring, not treat any underlying problems and all it will do is make you a “silent apneic.” You will never know that you stop breathing while you sleep.

If you really want to get the rest you’ve been yearning for, reach out to a medical professional like your doctor or a dental office like ours that can help you with home sleep monitoring. Another option is a lab-based sleep study where you go to a sleep lab for the night while you are monitored for changes in breathing, oxygen, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, you will be given advice on how to manage it, including:

  • Changing your sleeping position or bedding
  • Improving your bedtime routine
  • Dental appliances
  • CPAP machines
  • Surgery

While some of these options may come with a high price tag, the peace of mind that comes from healthier living and being in control of your health is priceless.

Get started today by reaching out to Dr. Andrea Stevens.

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