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Sleep is the center of everyday wellness - Sleep Awareness Week - March 6-13, 2016

Posted on: 03/07/2016

Achieving a work-life balance is difficult and stressful for a lot people. Between careers, school, families, and activities, the stress of everyday life often puts adequate sleep on the backburner for people.

Not getting enough zzzs is more detrimental to a person’s overall health than most probably realize. Obviously, people know what it’s like to feel tired but lack of sleep can impact decision making and cognitive function, according to Eric Ten Brock, M.D., medical director, Olean General Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center. “For instance, people do things that seem natural like stopping when they see a red light and hitting the gas pedal for a green light. When sleep deprived, those things take a few more seconds to process. In that case, it could cause an accident,” he said. What’s also alarming is people think they are fine and are not aware it’s affecting them negatively, he added.

The amount of sleep people need to function properly is different for everyone. Things such as age, health issues, obesity, and disease risk are all factors. Also, some people just need more sleep than others. The recommended amount of sleep for an adult is seven to nine hours per night. Some function well on six or seven, whereas, some adults need nine or 10, Dr. Ten Brock said.

Ways to achieve a better sleep routine include: stick to a schedule, even on weekends, try a relaxing bedtime ritual, exercise daily, keep the bedroom dark, quiet and an ideal temperature, have a comfortable mattress and pillows, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and turn off electronics before bed.

Not getting enough sleep can also occur due to sleep disorders. Dr. Ten Brock said in the sleep lab, sleep apnea, where a person stops breathing for a period of time during sleep, is one of the most prevalent conditions he sees. Insomnia is another common condition. While a lot of people don’t get enough sleep, insomnia occurs due to the stress of everyday life or the fact that people use their bed for work, eating or using electronics and not just for sleeping.

“Sleep should not be compromised by the pressures of daily activity. Sleep has function in maintaining health,” Dr. Ten Brock said.

Those who know or suspect they are experiencing sleep disorders, such as feeling sleepy during the day even after a good night’s sleep, snoring, leg cramps/tingling, gasping or difficulty breathing during sleep, prolonged insomnia or other symptoms, should talk to their primary care provider to determine the underlying cause.

For more information, visit http://www.ogh.org/programs-and-services/sleep-disorders-center or www.sleepfoundation.org.

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