By Lauren Katz, NP
Department of Family Practice
Everyone seems to have a lot to worry about these days. From rising prices, to COVID-19, to a war in Europe, there’s no shortage of problems that can cause us anxiety and lost sleep each day. Unfortunately, having sleep issues on a regular basis is not good for our health. Medical providers know that not getting enough sleep or regularly getting poor sleep can play a role in the development of chronic illnesses. In fact, there are many conditions that have been associated with insufficient sleep including:
Obesity: Research has shown that poor or shortened sleep can lead to metabolic changes that are linked to excess body weight. This is particularly true for children, as sleep is important for brain development and helps regulate the hypothalamus, a region in the brain that manages appetite and energy expenditures.
Depression: There has long been a link between sleep and depression. For example, sleep disturbances can be a key sign of depression. Recent research has shown that depressive symptoms can decrease when sleep apnea is effectively treated and sleep has been restored to normal. That’s why it is important for individuals with sleep issues to be monitored for depression and vice versa.
Diabetes: Sleep problems are a predictor for high levels of hemoglobin A1C in the bloodstream, which is an important marker of blood sugar control. Too much sugar in the bloodstream increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, improving sleep can help improve blood sugar control in people who have type 2 diabetes.
Cardiovascular disease: The presence of sleep apnea has been shown to be an important predictor of cardiovascular problems including stroke, hypertension, coronary artery disease and irregular heartbeat. That’s why it’s so important to have sleep apnea treated properly.
So how can you improve your sleep?
Adopting healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your sleep and overall health and wellness. Some ways to optimize your sleep include:
- More physical activity. Staying physically active during the day can help you fall asleep at night.
- A better sleep environment. Always ensure you have a dark, comfortable and cool place to sleep at night.
- Less screen time. Avoid using a television, smartphone, laptop, or tablet before bed. The light these devices emit can affect your sleep.
- A consistent routine. Developing a consistent sleep routine that is focused around going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can improve your sleep.
It’s important to talk with your medical provider if you are experiencing sleep disturbances or serious issues related to your sleep – especially if you have obstruction of your breathing during sleep.
Seeing your medical provider is the first step in uncovering any underlying conditions that may be causing your sleep issues. Getting a good night’s sleep is important to your overall health – don’t neglect it!
About Lauren Katz, NP -Administrative AP Chief in Primary Care
A graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Lauren enjoys educating patients and teaching them about disease prevention and processes. Lauren decided to become an advanced practitioner after working as a nurse for three years. “As an advanced practitioner I can have more responsibility with patients and continue to learn,” she explains. Lauren works with patients who are being treated at Saint Vincent...View profile View posts by this doctor