To round out the posts this month and in a sense following on the heels of the letter Y as it relates to your responsibilities to yourself, it is important to ensure that you get the proper amount of sleep each night. While this may sound like a trivial detail for some, but for others, their literal life may depend on it.
For most a good night sleep is something that can be taken for granted. It’s important to realize that when we sleep at night is when our body tries to recharge and as some have explained it to me, even reset some circuits in our body to enable our body to more naturally deal with the effects of illness, inflammation, pain, etcetera.
Getting proper restorative sleep in these cases certainly seems to shed more light on the importance of getting the rest that our body requires in order to function the way it is designed to and to both naturally treat and even fend off illness and disease before they reach the point of seeking out professional medical care.
However, if you happen to be one of the multitudes of people who are diagnosed with any number of sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, idiopathic hypersomnia, or narcolepsy you fall into a group of people for whom a lack of proper sleep can literally be life-threatening. There are obviously many other conditions that could fall into this category, but I’m just listing a few examples.
The need for proper sleep schedules and proper therapies to manage your particular sleep disorder are essential to a healthy, fruitful, and even happy life. For details on how sleep disorders, in particular, can affect your health and what you can do to attempt to mitigate the effects on your health you can visit the Sleep Education Center at http://www.sleepeducation.org. This is a service provided by the American Association of Sleep Medicine (http://aasm.org).
In the short and simplistic approach, it is important to keep a regular sleep schedule. If you have been prescribed a positive airway pressure device to use when sleeping it is imperative that you use it as directed. I can’t count the number of stories I’ve heard relayed about people dying because they either forgot to, or chose not to, use their therapy device at that time. Obviously, the severity of sleep apnea can vary widely, but for many, it literally is a lifesaving treatment, without which the risk of dying is incredibly higher than it needs to be.
It has been explained to me that even more important than going to bed at the same time each night is waking the same time each day. I’m not 100 percent sure if this is a generalized recommendation regarding sleep or something that is specific to my provider or my care, but the importance of a regular sleep schedule increases as we naturally age.
It’s also important to avoid stimulants or depressants within a number of hours before going to bed to try to sleep. This includes things as simple as coffee and the consumption of alcohol. Both the stimulant and depressant classes of items have varying effects on sleep and even more on sleep disorders. Prescription medications can also have side effects on sleep even if they do not fall into a generally recognized category of stimulants or depressants. Even OTC, or over the counter, medications can have side effects of affecting the quality and depth of your sleep both of which are important in the overall health of your sleep.
In an attempt to make everything relatable for the largest majority of people perhaps you don’t have a sleep disorder or even don’t have a chronic health condition. Kudos to you, but keep in mind that how we sleep affects us all regardless of other health factors. The addition of other health factors into the equation simply raises the importance of proper sleep. Don’t believe me? Ever have a day where you just felt out of sorts, or maybe even grumpy after a fitful night of sleep? There’s a perfect example of not getting proper restorative sleep affecting our body that nearly anyone can relate to in one way or another.
I am not a physician nor even if I were is it feasible for me to give medical advice so the things that I have relayed are simply my own opinions unless otherwise noted and are never to be considered as medical advice. It is very important to speak to your sleep physician or another appropriate healthcare provider to discuss any questions about how your sleep can best be managed or what you can do to improve your quality of sleep.
Do you have a sleep disorder or other chronic health condition that you notice is exacerbated (made worse) by not getting a good night’s rest? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear your input!