Sleep

Perhaps with this topic I should suggest people read it with a dose of caffeine to prevent the induction of sleep. Apart from exercise, it’s probably the thing that people in western cultures get too little of. Getting the right amount of sleep is important. Even though eight hours is what is usually quoted as what we need every night, the reality is some people might only need seven hours and others nine.

It’s important to sleep long enough to get into REM sleep several times. REM sleep is the period of sleep where dreams occur. It isn’t totally clear why we dream but it seems to be related to consolidating memories. It may also be beneficial to mental health.

However it is not just the total amount of hours we get, but the quality that counts as well. The quality of the sleep is important as well. If someone wakes up multiple times because they have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) they might not wake up feeling rested. OSA also predisposes to hypertension, arrhythmias, and fatigue.  If one is fatigued enough, even things like driving can be dangerous (if you haven’ slept enough and are fatigued enough, you can be driving as if you’ve had too much to drink).

Insomnia and non refreshing sleep can have many causes.  Whether it’s OSA, restless leg syndrome, depression, or other causes, treating underlying causes can often improve sleep quality without the use of medications such as Zolpidem. Getting good sleep hygiene is important to getting and remaining asleep. Going to bed the same time every night is important, even on weekends and  vacations. Waking up the same time every day is important. If you can’t fall asleep within about 10-15 minutes of getting into bed, it’s suggested that you get up and do something else for a while, like reading.  If having good sleep hygiene doesn’t help one’s insomnia, talk with your doctor to see what else can be done, and consider referral to a sleep specialist.

I realize this blog post is a bit on the short side. I will hopefully be writing another post about going into more detail about sleep, causes of insomnia, how to sleep better, etc in the near future.

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