Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for your general health. Adults who get around eight hours of quality sleep every night tend to be more productive and more focused during tasks due to improved brain function. They also tend to be leaner with fewer instances of mental health issues, especially anxiety and depression. Clearly sleep is important, but you may not realize just how important it is. The fact is that if you’re regularly getting less than six hours of sleep, you could actually be shortening your lifespan. That’s right, research suggests that losing sleep shortens your life.
Looking At the Research
A study was performed at the Penn State College of Medicine and included 1,654 participants. These participants were middle-aged, and they had all had sleep studies done in the 1990s. Researchers followed their cases through 2017.
To be frank, their study wasn’t purely focused on the connection between shorter spans of sleep and overall life expectancy. The scientists running the study were particularly interested in the effects of shorter sleep durations on people who already had cardiovascular disease or were at high risk for cardiovascular disease. Roughly 64% of their participants met these requirements.
Despite their particular interest, their data certainly emphasizes the importance of sleep for general health. Among participants who had high blood pressure or diabetes, those who regularly slept less than six hours were twice as likely to die due to cardiovascular disease. Participants who already had a history of heart disease or stroke were more than three times more likely to die as a result of heart disease if they regularly slept less than six hours.
Even without added risk factors, evidence shows that shorter sleep durations can wreak havoc on your health. It’s clear that poor sleeping patterns are a serious problem that requires real medical attention. Luckily your New York sleep doctor has the knowledge and experience to get you back on track. If you or a family member is struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep multiple times a week for more than a month, you should definitely consider a consultation to help determine whether or not you have a sleep disorder that is preventing you from achieving restful and lasting sleep.
Long-Term or Temporary
In some cases, insomnia and sleep interruptions are temporary conditions. Major life events, increased pressure at work, and environmental stressors are all capable of messing with your sleep schedule. In order to help your doctor determine the nature of your condition, it is often helpful to track your symptoms. Keep a brief sleep diary for a few weeks prior to your initial consultation. In this sleep diary, you will need to track the following:
- The last time you use anything with a screen (TV, smartphone, laptop, tablet, etc.)
- The last time you had anything caffeinated
- When and what you had for dinner
- The amount of exercise you did that day
- What time you went to bed
- The approximate time you fell asleep (many activity watches and smartphones have helpful apps for this)
- Approximately how many times you woke up during the night (once again, apps can help, just make sure you enable them at least one hour before bed)
- The time you woke up in the morning
Losing Sleep Shortens Your Life. Don’t Let It Happen to You.
It seems like a lot, but it will help to prepare you for basically every question your sleep deprivation doctor in NYC may have. Much of this information can be used to rule out common causes of sleep loss, getting you that much closer to real solutions. Once you’ve identified possible conditions based on your accumulated data, your doctor may require a sleep study and other tests, but with a little patience, they’ll help you get back to the sleep your body needs.