a young woman awake in the middle of the night.

Sleep: A Public Health Concern

Sometimes, due to life, we don’t get enough sleep. This is situational. We have deadlines, events, travel for work, and stressful life situations. Poor quality of sleep however is very common and can make life totally unbearable.

More and more Americans are claiming that they aren’t getting quality of sleep leaving them feeling even more tired when they wake up regardless of what is happening in their lives.  According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), insufficient sleep is now a public health concern. Sleep insufficiency is being linked to causing motor vehicle accidents, industrial disasters, and occupational errors. Diabetes (type 2), hypertension, weight gain, obesity, depression, are all chronic health issues are all tied to insufficient sleep overtime.

But why is this happening? Obviously this is a complex issue in terms of answering why lack of sleep is such a prevalent issue in the United States. What is even more pressing of a health issue is WHAT are we doing about it. Below are just a few suggestions to a very big health subject:

  1. Get screened for sleep apnea-many people do not know they have this and should get tested. Go to your primary health practitioner and get screened. Better to know than to not know. Sleep apnea is very common and it is not just primarily an issue of being over weight-thin people have sleep apnea too.
  2. Let’s say you don’t have sleep apnea but can NOT sleep well. You wear your fit bit and it tells you how poorly you slept. What to do about it? Here are some suggestions:
  3. Limit exercise late at night. For some people exercising during the evening can cause an endorphin rush that can make it hard to wind down after exercise. Try exercising earlier in the day, or perhaps in the morning to start your day.
  4. Take melatonin the SAME time each night. Melatonin has shown to work clinically when it is taken at the same time at night. This helps regulate your pineal gland, which is the gland that helps your body to say “time for sleep.”
  5. Certain types of lights before bedtime can stimulate the nervous system rather than helping it to prepare for sleep. Blue wave lights, associated with electronics, are a common obstacle to getting a good night’s sleep, according to Mark Hayman, MD. It is important to look into our daily habits and examine factors that are truly causing sleep.
  6. One of my heroes understands that poor sleep can affect your job and ability to serve the public. You take care of your people in service, and or employees,  and they can better take care of you: www.sleeporbit.com.
  7. Avoid nicotine, sugar, stimulants of any kind in the evening. This is easier said then done for people who have to work night shifts or who are overworked, or have chronic anxiety. This is where foods, lifestyle habits, and the regulation of the parasympathetic nervous system comes in to help promote sleep. It is viewed that lack of sleep has a very direct role with the autonomic nervous system.
  8. Lack of sleep according to Chinese medicine, has much to do with the heart and liver functioning. Lack of sleep is believed to be due to the body not having enough of a relaxation response to help the body to sleep. In essence, when you treat the individual health of the person, according to Chinese Medicine medical theory, when the health is restored, the sleep is restored, not necessarily the other way around. This is why lack of sleep is now a pressing public health concern, and is it is just the tip of the iceberg showing us that sleep is necessary for health to flourish.







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