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Harmful Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Do you find yourself tired, and unable to concentrate even after a full night’s sleep? If so, you may have a sleep disorder. It is estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans chronically suffer from a disorder of sleep and wakefulness, hindering daily functioning and adversely affecting their health and longevity. Did you know that 1 in 25 adults have fallen asleep at the wheel in the past month, and there are more than 6,000 fatal car crashes caused by drowsy driving each year? And, sleep disorders don't know ages as they can affect anyone at any age.

Serious Health Effects of Sleep Deprivation

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Lower libidos and less interest in sex
  • Contributes to depression
  • Ages your skin
  • Can lead to an increase in hunger and appetite and possibly to obesity

There are several different types of sleep disorders, of which insomnia is the most common. Other sleep disorders are narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome.

Simple Tips to Help You Sleep Better

  • Keep a regular sleep-wake cycle. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the four to six hours before bedtime.
  • Don't exercise within two hours of bedtime. Exercising five or six hours before bedtime may help you sleep more soundly.
  • Don't eat large meals within two hours of bedtime.
  • Don't nap later than 3 p.m.
  • Sleep in a dark, quiet room with a comfortable temperature.
  • If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes, do a quiet activity somewhere else and return to bed when you're sleepy.
  • Wind down in the 30 minutes before bedtime with a relaxing pre-sleep ritual such as a warm bath, soft music, or reading.

When to Seek Medical Help

If lifestyle changes are not helping to improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, a comprehensive sleep assessment can help. Ask your health care provider for a referral to St. Claire’s fully accredited Sleep Center. St. Claire’s Sleep Center can diagnose and treat a full range of sleep disorders including sleep apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy. With more than 20 years of dedicated service, our sleep center wants to help you get a good night’s sleep! Visit www.st-claire.org/sleep to learn more.