Therapy & lifestyle

More sleeping tips from sleep health experts

In summer, sleeping tips are in demand. Whether we’re tossing and turning a little more than usual because of the heat, the longer days or having the kids around more, this is a time of year when many people experience interruptions in their usual sleep patterns.

We’re offering advice with a more in-depth look at the problems associated with not getting enough sleep.

Sleeping tip: Work less, sleep more.

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? We’d all probably prefer a little more sleep and a little less work. But in today’s world, it doesn’t always work out like that.

But it should work out that way, according to Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and called “one of the world’s leading authorities on human sleep cycles and the biology of sleep and wakefulness” by the Harvard Business Review (HBR).

If we make it a point to prioritize sleep over work, he says, we’ll be helping not only our own personal health situation, but also that of the companies we work for, and the general public.

“It amazes me that contemporary work and social culture glorifies sleeplessness,” Dr. Czeisler told the HBR. “We now know that 24 hours without sleep or a week of sleeping four or five hours a night induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent.

“We would never say, ‘This person is a great worker! He’s drunk all the time!’ Yet we continue to celebrate people who sacrifice sleep. The analogy to drunkenness is real because, like a drunk, a person who is sleep deprived has no idea how functionally impaired he or she truly is.”

Dr. Czeisler’s sleeping tip for overworked employees: “I would recommend that supervisors undergo training in sleep and fatigue management and that they promote good sleep behavior. People should learn to treat sleep as a serious matter. Both the company and the employees bear a shared responsibility to ensure that everyone comes to work well rested.”

He adds: “Employees should learn to set aside an adequate amount of time for sleep each night and to keep their bedrooms dark and quiet and free of all electronic devices – televisions, BlackBerries, and so on. They should learn about the ways alcohol and caffeine interfere with sleep.”

Sleeping tip: Take snoring seriously.

Stef dela Cruz, a doctor and licensed nurse, explored some of the many myths about snoring in a conversation with Stanford University’s Dr. Christian Guilleminault for AllVoices.com. The conversation explained how these myths interfere with our ability to get a good night’s sleep. Here are a few examples:

Myth: Snoring is a healthy sign of deep sleep. “Regardless of what you see in Hollywood films, snoring is not a sign of deep, peaceful slumber,” dela Cruz writes. “It may, however, be a sign of a condition that will continue to affect your health until you do something about it.”

Myth: If we snored, we’d know it. Strangely, many people who snore swear that they don’t. And unless someone tells them they do, how will they find out? “You may be snoring – and you might be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea – if you don’t particularly feel rested even after seven hours of sleep,” writes dela Cruz.

Myth: Snoring doesn’t affect kids. “Does your child have attention deficit or hyperactivity? Does he kick when asleep? Does he bedwet or sweat profusely while sleeping? If so, an explanation must be found,” said Dr. Guilleminault. “And very commonly, the number one cause is abnormal breathing during sleep.”

The sleeping tip for people who snore? “If you snore at night and you think you have obstructive sleep apnea, consult a specialist on sleep medicine,” dela Cruz writes. (Hey, that advice sounds familiar!)

“One thing is for sure: Go see a doctor before it’s too late! If you have the nagging feeling that you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and snoring, it isn’t something you should sleep on.”

 


References

  1. Fryer, Bronwyn. “Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer: A Conversation with Charles A. Czeisler by Bronwyn Fryer.” Harvard Business Review Magazine (online edition). October, 2006. Retrieved from http://hbr.org/2006/10/sleep-deficit-the-performance-killer/ar/1 (accessed April 11, 2014).
  2. dela Cruz, Stef. “6 myths about snoring (including ‘I don't snore’).” Allvoices.com. April 2, 2014.

 

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