Being sleep deprived takes a terrible toll on your physical and mental health. Chronic sleep problems put you at risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus, depression, and more. However, ways to help you sleep soundly are available.
Sleep Study Findings
Sleep studies show that there are different types of sleep:
- REM sleep – 0-25 percent of our time sleeping consists of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. We experience dreams during REM sleep, and this type of sleep is important for dealing with our emotions, mental stress, and memory consolidation.
- Non-REM sleep – 75-80 percent of our sleeping time consists of non-REM sleep, which is classified into 3 categories:
1. N1 – This is the lightest sleep category. Since it’s a transitional phase between sleep and waking, it’s not true sleep.
2. N2 – Deeper sleep is classified as N2
3. N3 –This is the deepest sleep phase, and we need it to get restored from stress and fatigue during the day.
Insomnia leads to increased N1 sleep and decreased N3 sleep. N3 and REM sleep are essential for improved memory and skills. Sleep deprivation leads to decreased work efficiency, poor memory and ability to concentrate, and a lack of energy.
While many sleep disorders contribute to poor sleep, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the main culprit. Sleep apnea patients experience decreased or a complete absence of N3 sleep. OSA leads to a much greater risk of diabetes mellitus, heart disease, strokes, and hypertension. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) treatment is the best solution for OSA. CPAP treatment uses slight positive pressure to increase the amount or air you inhale and make breathing easier. OSA patients should also stop drinking alcohol and smoking, and maintain a healthy body weight.
Sleep aid medication may not be the right answer, and can be dangerous when overused or combined with other medications. If you experience difficulty sleeping, daytime fatigue, or your sleep partner observes your lack of breathing while sleeping or moderate to severe snoring, contact a sleep clinic now. Sleep apnea can be deadly, and a proper diagnosis and sleep apnea treatment can get your life and good health back on track, starting with a sound night’s sleep.