Enjoying sleeping

The Importance of Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

What’s better than getting a good night’s sleep?

You would be hard pressed to find anything that feels better than coming home after a long day of work, slipping into your favourite pyjamas and climbing into bed. The stress of the day rolls off your shoulders as soon as your head hits the pillow.

Other than providing a few hours a day when you don’t have any responsibilities or commitments, getting a good night’s sleep has significant health benefits.

Not getting a proper night’s sleep can lead to heart disease

If you have undiagnosed sleep apnea, you stop breathing several times a night. This leads to constricted blood vessels which prevents proper blood flow to your heart and less blood pumped from your heart. When you start to breathe again, your chest pressure returns to normal. This sudden increase in blood flow leads to increased blood pressure.

After a while, this high blood pressure will happen during the daytime, leading to heart disease. Many patients who are on heart medications likely have an undiagnosed sleep breathing disorder. If you treat this now, you won’t be magically cured of the results of many years of poor sleep, but it can elongate and improve the quality of your life.

Your sleeping habits affect your sex life

Yes, you read that right.

Roughly 25% of people sleep in a different room than their partner. It’s such a factor in relationships, experts have coined a term for it: sleep divorce. Snoring is a huge factor in these sleeping arrangements, and for good reason.

When you snore or you’re sleeping in the same bed as someone who snores, you get poor sleep, which has been proven to be associated with reduced sexual desire and arousal in women. In men, a lack of and disrupted sleep have been connected to higher risks of erectile dysfunction.

Perhaps more worrying, not getting enough sleep can impair your decision-making and impulse control skills. This can increase your desire to engage in risky behaviour that can result in STIs or unplanned pregnancy.

Not getting enough sleep can trigger ADHD symptoms

People with ADHD, especially children going through puberty, experience symptoms similar to those associated with lack of sleep. In adults, side effects may include forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. Children may be hyperactive and impulsive. It can be difficult to tell if these symptoms are a result of ADHD or a lack of sleep. This difficulty can lead to incorrect diagnoses or even allow sleep disorders to be undetected.

Getting a diagnosis of sleep apnea or another sleep disorder may lead to a life free from prescription medication for ADHD.

Sleep and mental health go hand in hand

Which came first, lack of sleep or depression?

The jury is still out on whether depression causes lack of sleep or lack of sleep causes depression. In fact, researchers believe that about 20% of people with depression have obstructive sleep apnea and roughly 15% have hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness or excessive time spent sleeping). If you have depression, you may find yourself bouncing between insomnia and hypersomnia.

The good news is that there is hope.

Research shows that patients with deviated nasal septums (when one nasal air passage is smaller than the other) and depression may experience an improvement in mood after getting surgery to correct the deviation. The same can be said for tonsil and adenoid removal in patients with enlarged tonsils and adenoids that block the airway, especially at night.

The quality of your sleep can affect your weight

Not getting enough good quality sleep can lead to obesity.

The less you sleep, the more your body alters its chemical signals that cause you to eat more or gain weight. Two of the most important chemicals in the relationship between sleep and weight gain are leptin and cortisol.

Leptin provides your brain with information about your energy levels and indicates when you have eaten enough. Low leptin levels are associated with increased hunger. Because they drop at night, you are more likely to do your snacking then.

Cortisol, on the other hand, stimulates hunger and food intake. It increases in response to sleep deprivation. If you are a chronic insomniac, your cortisol levels are higher. This, combined with low leptin, leads to you eating more and gaining weight, and when you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is exercise.

How can I get a good night’s sleep?

Your dentist is part of your overall health routine and can often help identify if there are things preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. Dr. Andrea Stevens is trained in sleep dentistry and can help break down those barriers.

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