Lack of Sleep Has Health Consequences

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

March 31, 2005

Whether from lack of time or ability, many adults have a hard time falling asleep.

"There are months when I don't get enough sleep," said Madison resident Laura Sharp.

So how much sleep are people getting a night?

"Probably average, five hours," guessed Ray Sandridge of Charlottesville.

Close--the National Sleep Foundation says most adults snooze just under 7 hours. It's not only a problem of falling asleep on the job, this lack of sleep can increase blood pressure and weight.

"So the they get into this vicious cycle where this sleep deprivation decreases productivity so that they try to cheat a little more time out of sleep and it gets into a vicious cycle," said Medical Director Dr. John Shemo.

And of course the sleep deprived can also be grumpy. "In fact they start acting unusually irritable and they get whinny or cranky," said Shemo.

People often over compensate in other ways as well, when tired. "Well you drink about 10 to 12 diet cokes a day to keep you going," said Sharp.

Experts suggest sleeping between 7 and 9 hours a night, but sometimes 9 hours maybe too many.

"What they call their sleep density suffers because they're spending too much time in bed," said Shemo.

Easy tips for sounder snoozing include not drinking alcohol or eating two hours before bed time, and limiting television. They also say, find a way to relax

"Listen to quiet music or read a couple of hours before going to bed rather than watching television, which is more stimulating and may make it hard to go to bed," said Shemo.

If you are having trouble, sleeping experts suggest changing your schedule and nighttime routine before trying any medication.

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