You may be an accident waiting to happen because of your lack of sleep
We live in a culture of sleep deprivation, where hard charging, get-it-done business and political leaders boast about how little sleep they need.
However, denying yourself sleep, or suffering sleeplessness because of chronic medical conditions or poor sleep habits, can lead to serious health problems.
Scientists may not have unraveled the secrets of sleep, but they do know lack of sleep is bad for you.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, if you don’t get enough sleep, you are at increased risk of:
- Having a car accident;
- Becoming obese due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation;
- Developing diabetes and heart problems;
- Developing psychiatric conditions, including depression and substance abuse; and
- Losing some of your ability to pay attention, react to signals, or remember new information.
“The Center for Sleep Disorders at UT Health Northeast is the only sleep facility in East Texas with three board-certified sleep specialists," says James Stocks, MD, the sleep center’s medical director.
Besides Dr. Stocks, these specialists are: Varsha Taskar, MD, a pulmonologist, and Rodolfo Amaro-Galvez, MD, a specialist in pediatric pulmonology and one of a few board-certified specialists in pediatric sleep disorders in the region.
The sleep center was established in 1985 as the first laboratory and clinic to serve East Texas and is fully accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
It is a clinic and testing facility for people with sleep problems, including insomnia, excessive sleepiness, loud snoring, and abnormal behavior during sleep.
Dr. Stocks has over 25 years’ experience caring for those with sleep disorders. He was the first board-certified sleep specialist in East Texas.
“The Center’s three physicians have decades of experience treating individuals with sleep complaints. No one else between Dallas and Shreveport has our experience in sleep medicine,” Dr. Stocks says.
“We are dedicated not just to the diagnosis of those with sleep problems, but to their long-term successful treatment. To that end, we have a physician clinic focused on problems of insomnia and on patients who are having problems using treatments like CPAP or BIPAP,” he says.
Though we can skip a few nights of sleep when necessary or cut back on our hours of slumber, sleep is vital to our health, Dr. Stocks says.
“We often cheat ourselves of a few hours of sleep each night for years, but we pay a price. The quality of our daytime life suffers; we feel tired, drained, and robbed of vitality. And sometimes the consequence of poor quality sleep is being robbed of life itself, because of increased risk for accidents, heart attack, and stroke. A good night’s sleep is truly important for a long, happy, and healthy life,” he says.
To improve the quality of your sleep, go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This helps our body’s internal clock work properly to govern our sleep needs and quality.
Allow yourself a sufficient time for sleep, which for most people is at least 7 1/2 hours, he says. And avoid drinking excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol, especially in the evenings.
“Lastly, good sleep is easily ruined by other health problems. So, eat right, exercise regularly, and pay attention to overall health matters,” Dr. Stocks says.
While everyone occasionally has a poor night’s sleep, when you experience chronic sleep problems, it’s time to seek medical help.
“If you or your doctor’s efforts to improve your sleep haven’t been successful after three or four weeks of treatment, or if you’re having trouble breathing while asleep, you should strongly consider seeing a sleep specialist such as those at UT Health Northeast’s Center for Sleep Disorders,” Dr. Stocks says.