By: Danielle Duncan
With how busy we all are every day, it is easy to sacrifice a few hours of sleep for more productive time during the day. Whether you are neglecting your sleep schedule for a project deadline that is looming, to watch just one more episode of your favorite show, or to catch up on some housework that has been piling up, it seems that the common answer to needing more time during the day is to cut our sleep cycles short to the detriment of our body’s whole body health.
It’s a one time thing, you may be thinking, but it is a trap that we can all catch ourselves in if we aren’t more mindful of our daily schedules and nightly routines. It starts as a one time event and quickly turns into a monthly, weekly, or even daily habit that can cause daytime tiredness or even cardiac problems later down the road.
But, how important is sleep really? How is a good night’s rest worth its weight in gold when you compare it to an extra hour of daytime productivity?
- Stops weight gain in its tracks.
While you won’t lose weight by getting a full night’s sleep every night, if you don’t get enough there are repercussions. With a lack of sleep our body will produce ghrelin, the hormone that boosts appetite, while simultaneously reducing leptin, which helps to tell your body that you are full. The combination of these two imbalances can increase the likelihood of late night snacks or overeating.
- Sleep can reduce sick days by boosting your immune system.
If you are lacking sleep, chances are you have found yourself getting sick more often. When your body is well rested, your proteins and immune cells have the rest they need to fight off colds and flu, while on the other side of the coin, lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your immune system. According to sleep specialists at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a good sleep schedule can also help to boost your immune response to vaccines.
- Boosts your heart health.
The leading cause of mortality in the USA is heart disease. Not catching enough Zs during the night can lead to increased blood pressure and heart attacks. When your body faces a lack of sleep, it can cause your body to release cortisol, the stress hormone that increases the strain on the heart. Just like your immune system, your heart needs the rest of a good night’s sleep to function properly.
- Feeling productive.
You know how we try to cut our sleep to increase productivity? It may have the opposite effect. While you might feel like you are able to get more done by trimming the fat of your sleeping hours, but you are doing the adverse effect when trying to complete projects while unrested. Sleep increases concentration, provides a higher cognitive function, and can give you the energy you need to complete your daily projects more easily.
- Mood booster!
“Getting up on the right side of bed”, a saying we have all heard, isn’t really about getting out of bed on the left or right side of the bed, or even the bottom or top! It is more about getting a good night’s rest and waking up feeling rested, recharged, and ready to face the day. Getting the appropriate amount of sleep based on your genetics and age is a huge mood boost!
- Improving memory function.
If you don’t get enough sleep, your body can’t compartmentalize what happened during the day, which can lead to memory issues or false memories.
It may be well and good to know that you need a good night’s rest, but, what can you do to ensure that you get the sleep that your body needs?
- Make sure your mattress, pillows, and bedding are comfortable.
- Avoid using your room for work, late night TV binging, or any other distractions.
- Follow a sleep routine.
- Have a small, healthy snack within two to three hours of bed time.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Get checked if you find that you are snoring, having trouble breathing, or just can’t get to sleep.
If you find yourself struggling to sleep despite having a great bedtime routine, it may be time to have a sleep test performed to rule out sleep apnea. Fortunately, it couldn’t be easier to get a sleep test done as many dental practices now offer at home sleep apnea tests that can be taken from the comfort of your own home.
Dentists play a huge role in diagnosing sleep apnea, and are fully equipped to help manage the symptoms of this serious sleep disorder that can have whole body effects. If you are a dentist who isn’t seeing sleep patients, you can change the lives of your patients by offering sleep tests and treatment for sleep apnea patients so they can get the good night’s rest they need.
Let us help you implement dental sleep medicine into your practice today!