Westminster dentist talks about sleep deprivation and safety

Sleep deprivation puts you at risk in many ways

sleepDid you know that sleep deprivation can be dangerous to your health? Well, it can. Sleep deprivation, simply put, is when you don’t get enough sleep. A few sleepless Baltimore nights isn’t going to kill you, but, if your sleep deprivation continues over a long period of time, serious health effects can occur. Lack of sleep can affect you both physically and mentally.

Tired = grumpy, forgetful and clumsy

Those who have experienced sleep deprivation will tell you that ordinary daily events seem much more difficult. When you’re exhausted, you are much less alert, decision making becomes difficult, and your reaction time is slower. Students who can’t sleep get lower grades and relationships suffer due to moodiness, tempers, and a lack of sexual desire.

Tired = dangerous at home, work and on the road

Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of obesity, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and lower your immune system. Beyond the medical risks of sleeplessness, exhaustion due to a lack of sleep ups your risk of accidents, at home, play or work. Several major disasters have been linked to sleep deprivation: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the Exxon Valdez. On the highway, sleep deprived drivers are as dangerous as drunk drivers. Studies performed on sleep deprived doctors show they are prone to making mistakes when doing repetitive tasks.

Is you fatigue mystifying?

There are many factors that cause sleep deprivation; a new baby, stress, simply not going to bed early enough (hello all you late night internet surfers out there!), or a sleep disorder such as snoring or sleep apnea.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may not be aware of what’s causing your fatigue. Sleep apnea is a dangerous medical condition in which your breathing stops periodically throughout the night because your throat tissues become so relaxed they block your airway. Each time you stop breathing, your body momentarily wakes you up to restart your breathing. These awakenings are often so brief you don’t notice them. Many people who suffer from sleep apnea wake up wondering why they are so tired.

Find out what’s causing your sleep dilemma

There are lots of things you can do to get the sleep you need to stay healthy and safe:

  • document your sleep in a journal to look for clues
  • keep a regular bedtime and wake up routine
  • take a mid-day nap if you are occasionally up  late
  • keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool
  • sleep on a comfortable mattress and get some comfortable pillows
  • don’t eat for several hours before going to bed
  • exercise on a regular basis
  • avoid caffeine.

If these tricks don’t work for you, or if you are just plain stumped by your sleepiness, take my on-line sleep questionnaire. I’ll give you a free, no-obligations recommendation to help you get back to sleep.

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About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)