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Better sleep boosts overall health

March 08, 2023 

The National Sleep Foundation, which launched Sleep Awareness Week in 1998, says 45% of Americans report poor or insufficient sleep negatively affects their daily lives.

Sleep Awareness Week, March 12-18, highlights the importance of good sleep. With everyone moving their clocks ahead one hour on Sunday, March 12 with the start of Daylight Savings Time, sleep schedules may be affected.

Sleep is one of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle, along with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Dr. Manjeshwar Prabhu, HSHS Medical Group sleep medicine specialist, shares that sleep occurs when the brain and body disconnect from the senses, no longer allowing us to process information from the outside. In turn, sleep allows us to review activities and experiences from the day, which strengthens memory; gives our organs time to rest; allows our immune system to scan for infections and fight illnesses; and allows a child’s or teenager’s muscles to grow. 

“Sleep also improves our mood and allows us to think more clearly and creatively,” says Dr. Prabhu. “It also is important for safety by helping prevent drowsy driving and accidents at work due to lack of sleep.” 

The term “sleep hygiene” refers to a series of healthy sleep habits that can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, including:

  • Limit the use of electronics one hour prior to bed to prepare bodies and brains for sleep.
  • Do not go to bed hungry.
  • Keep the bedroom temperature cooler than the rest of the house.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol four to six hours before bedtime.
  • If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet activity without a lot of light exposure until you feel sleepy.

Dr. Prabhu says it’s always best to stay in a routine when it comes to bedtime and wake time, especially with kids. “We all know that it can be hard to get kids to go to bed sometimes, so it’s okay to allow them to stay up a bit later every now and then, but it is best not to deviate more than one hour from their regular bedtime.” 

Insufficient sleep can lead to health conditions such as irritability, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and diabetes.

There are more than 80 identified sleep disorders, and sometimes, the cause has nothing to do with actual lack of sleep, according to Dr. Prabhu. He says stress, depression, a change in family dynamics, a new career and other life adjustments can lead to trouble sleeping.

Accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the St. Mary’s Sleep Medicine Center diagnoses a patient's potential sleep disorders and provides treatment options to help each patient achieve the rest needed to function at home and on the job. Both hospital-based and at-home sleep studies are available. Dr. Prabhu also sees patients at HSHS Medical Group Multispecialty Care – Decatur. 

For more information about the St. Mary’s Hospital Sleep Medicine Center, visit here or call at 217-464-2847.

For more information about getting quality sleep, visit the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Better sleep boosts overall health