Declarations from Dr. Aneesa Das, a sleep medicine specialist at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, read like an open letter on the hazards of poor sleep.
The words from an Ohio State press release lament that the United States is sleep deprived and all ages suffer in various ways. “For children, sleep deprivation can lead to behavior problems, trouble focusing and learning in school and it can affect their immune systems,” said Das. “Chronic tiredness makes it harder to cope and process what’s going on around you.”
When children enter the teen years, sleep becomes a bigger issue, said Das, when teens’ circadian rhythm, or internal body clock, tells them to stay awake later and sleep later than children and adults do. As a result, only 15% of teenagers get the recommended sleep they need.
“Sleep is time the body uses to restore itself. Muscles and other tissues repair themselves, hormones that control growth, development and appetite are released. Energy is restored and memories are solidified, so we need to try to get regular sleep on a regular basis,” Das said.
For adults, sleep loss is even more serious. It accumulates over the years and has been shown to contribute to several chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and obesity. Adulthood is also when sleep-related disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, are more likely. During menopause, women often experience night sweats and insomnia due to changing levels of hormones. As men age, an enlarged prostate can lead to more frequent trips to the bathroom overnight. Certain medications can also disrupt sleep, such as those for heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure and asthma.
“Adult sleep gets more fragmented, or interrupted during the night,” Das said. “This could be caused by a medical condition, caring for young children, light and noise disturbance, pets or just the stress of the day.”
Source: The Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center