14th Oct 2012

Posted by Sara Zuboff on

The Affect of Sleep Habits on Health

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), sleep is essential for a person’s health and wellbeing and is just as important as a healthy diet and exercise. Unfortunately, millions of Americans do not get enough sleep and suffer from a significant lack of sleep. A survey conducted by the NSF found that over 60 percent of adult Americans report having difficulty sleeping on average a few nights or more each week. Not only that, but up to 40% of adults experience severe daytime sleepiness which inhibits their daily activities at least a few days each month. While 20% report experiencing difficulty during the day for a few days each week.

When a patient experiences sleep deficiency, they may experience cognitive problems like learning, focusing, and reacting. Some of these problems will manifest as:

  • Trouble making decisions
  • Difficulty solving problems
  • Inability when remembering things
  • Decreased control over their emotions and behavior
  • Difficulty coping with change

Patients may find it takes them longer to finish tasks, they have a slower reaction time with certain activities, and may make more mistakes. In addition to these cognitive problems, sleep also plays an important role in our patient’s physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of the heart and blood vessels. Chronic sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

There are some recommendations for being healthy that we hear constantly from doctors, friends, and especially our moms. Usually when we visibly aren’t feeling so great, we are reminded to make sure that we should be eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. It makes sense that our bodies need rest, but exactly what does sleep do for us to keep us healthy? If you’ve ever wondered what role sleep plays for your overall health, here’s what you need to know.

What is Sleep?

Most official definitions of sleep include references to being unconscious and significantly less responsive to stimuli, such as noise, motion, or light, that would normally grab your attention when you’re awake. During sleep, almost all voluntary muscles shut down. However, when we are sleeping, there is much happening. The night-time slumber activities of our bodies just don’t involve our conscious mind nearly to the extent as when we’re awake. Science is still trying to understand the details of what’s involved in the sleep process and has a long way to go still, but there is much we do understand about what’s happening when we’re catching some Z’s.

There are five stages involved in sleeping. I’ll explain each of them. In more recent studies, Stages 3 and 4 have been considered to be one stage.

Stage 1: This stage, lasting 5 – 10 minutes, involves being in and out of sleep, partially awake but drifting off. In this stage, the brain produces slow moving energy waves.

Stage 2: This 20-minute phase is marked by decreased body temperature and slower heart rate. The brain begins producing rapid sleep spindle activity.

Stage 3: High amplitude, slow moving brain waves characterize this phase of sleep, which is a transition phase from light sleep into the deeper Stage 4.

Stage 4: Lasting for about 30 minutes, slow-moving brain waves called delta waves are prominent in this phase. This period of deep sleep is when sleepwalking and bed-wetting can occur.

Stage 5: This is when Rapid Eye Movement (REM) occurs. Voluntary muscles are paralyzed, but there is intense brain activity happening in this stage. Stage 5 is when most dreaming occurs. Each time the REM cycle occurs throughout the night, it lasts progressively longer, sometimes reaching an hour.

These stages do not occur exactly in a sequential order, going from Stage 1 to Stage 5 progressively throughout the night. Instead, the human body normally moves through Stage 1 to Stage 4, then back through Stage 3, and to Stage 2 before moving into Stage 5. After REM, the body then moves into Stage 2 again. The body repeats this progression, without Stage to several times (four to five normally) throughout the night.

How Much Sleep Does a Person Need

The amount of sleep a person needs is dependent upon age and other circumstances. Children need more than adults, with the amount of recommended sleep decreasing from as much as 18 hours per day for newborns to about 9 hours per night for teenagers. Adults should get between 7.5 and 8.5 hours of sleep per night. Some people need even more sleep. Albert Einstein is said to have slept 10 hours per night, acknowledging publicly that to have his mind operating its best, that amount of rest was necessary.

In today’s society, with more demands on our time, more technology to keep us up at night, and more access to products (such as coffee and energy drinks) that attempt to replace sleep, it takes more effort to be disciplined enough to get adequate sleep. Otherwise, we naturally gravitate towards substitutes that temporarily reconcile our lack of sleep so that we can function.

What Health Benefits are Provided by Sleeping

The health benefits of getting adequate sleep can be understood by considering the problems that are caused by not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation over prolonged periods of time leads to a sleep debt that the body remembers. It becomes somewhat of a chronic problem. Prolonged sleep deprivation leads to memory loss, depression, inability to focus, a weakened immune system, energy loss, and a amplified perception of pain. None of those symptoms scream are indicative of a healthy or happy person. On the other hand, getting consistent sleep results in the opposite of those: greater memory, more energy, and a generally happier demeanor.

If you are one of the many people who consistently gets less sleep than advised and feel your health suffering because of it, you might try keeping a sleep journal for a few weeks. Because we’ve learned by habit to put off sleep to focus on work demands and other things that cut into our sleep routine, overcoming that habit requires a conscious effort. You may have to pull some things off of your daily to-do list. However, after you get caught back up, you’re likely to find that you are more productive and can accomplish even more than you’re doing now.

The Impact of Pain on The Ability to Sleep

One of the biggest causes of sleep issues in patient populations is chronic pain. Chronic pain can make it difficult to fall asleep and/or stay asleep throughout the night. Tossing and turning or difficulty finding a comfortable position can all be caused by chronic pain and lead to sleepless nights.

Depending on the location of the pain and the severity, there are several therapeutic modalities patients which can be used to ease their comfort and increase the likelihood of a good night’s sleep.

Ultrasound Therapy

  • Soundcare Ultrasound Therapy Machine: Ultrasound therapy is a great choice for decreasing chronic pain. The SoundCare Plus Ultrasound Machine from Current Solutions is a great device because it comes standard with 2 sound heads applicators (1 cm and 5 cm) making it possible for practitioners to treat a wider variety of injuries effectively.
  • Us Pro 2000: The Current Solutions US Pro 2000 Ultrasound Machine is another innovative ultrasound therapy device to use when treating chronic pain. With 3 different preset time settings at 3 different duty cycle or intensity settings, the US Pro 2000 offers maximum versatility for treating various illnesses and injuries that cause chronic pain. Not only that, but the US Pro 2000 comes standard with a 5-cm soundhead applicator which can be used to target small areas, like ankles and larger areas, such as the low back.

Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

  • Venti TENS: TENS can be used either during treatment or for patient’s home use to interrupt the pain signals sent from the brain. This helps interrupt and stop the pain cycle for patients with chronic pain. The Venti unit is pocket-sized and designed for easy set up and use making it the perfect choice to refer to your patients to use at-home.

Combination Units

  • ComboCare: Combination units are innovative and affordable devices that blend the use of TENS with Ultrasound therapy. The ComboCare unit includes 5 electrotherapy waveforms which can be used separately or in combination with ultrasound or additional waveform, for maximum therapeutic applications. The Combo Care has 50 electrical stimulation presets and 20 ultrasound presets making it easy for practitioners to set up and provide immediate relief to patients.
  • Cold Compression Therapy: Cold compression therapy offers greater therapeutic benefit compared to store-bought ice packs. The combined use of cold and compression provides patients with a great alternative to oral pain medication. What’s more, ergonomically designed wraps make this a versatile modality which can be used on different parts of the body.
  • DPL Infrared Therapy: Infrared therapy offers deep-muscle pain relief for patients with chronic pain. With different sized wraps, this modality can be used for diverse patient issues and injuries. This modality is gentle and non-invasive without debilitating side effects that come with other typical pain-relieving treatments.

Contact us today!

We can help your practice find the perfect rehabilitation devices and equipment to help your patients with sleep issues due to chronic pain. Contact us today and we’ll answer any questions you may have about the therapeutic benefits of each modality we offer! Call us today at 1-801-770-3328 for more information.