The importance of sleep really is something that is reinforced throughout our lives. We hear a lot about sleep during our lifetime. It starts with our mothers telling us that it’s bedtime. Mother knows that a growing child needs their sleep in order to function property and to do well in school. Worries about sleep, or a lack of it, permeates the lives of people for many, many years.
Sleep is just as important for adults as it is developing children. In some ways, it may be even more important. Sleep is more than just a way to make you feel recharged. Neglecting nocturnal dormancy can impact your health.
Did you know that the repair of blood vessels and the heart occurs while you are sleeping? Did you also know that if you’re starting to get sick (or even if you ARE sick already), sleeping is the best way to fight it? Your body cannot effectively fight off a virus and keep your body awake and functioning at the same time. Basically, it has to pick one or the other. So, if you sleep, you allocate more body energy to fighting off the virus.
Are you a Victim of Microsleep?
This term may be new to a lot of people. But at one time or another, almost everyone has experienced microsleep.
What is microsleep?
Microsleep occurs when your brain is sleep deprived. If you are forcing yourself to stay awake, eventually your brain is going to take the helm and shut down, even if it is only for a split second. Microsleep can last anywhere from a fraction of a second to almost 10 full seconds.
Microsleep is neither REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep nor NREM (Non Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. It occurs when portions of the brain shut down, and cause you to have a lapse in memory and cognitive function. If it occurs while you are driving, you may have a missing block of time where you don’t remember part of your trip. This can be extremely dangerous. Serious accidents (and even fatalities) can happen when you experience microsleep while driving.
Other times, you may find yourself sitting in a waiting room, just looking at your phone when all of a sudden your phone drops to the floor. You don’t know why you dropped it, but the noise of the phone hitting the floor jolts you awake. You then pick up the phone and try to cover it up with an excuse of needing a better phone case. Chances are good that a momentary lapse into microsleep is to blame.
Here are some of the indications that you’ve experienced microsleep:
- Brief memory lapses
- Missing an exit while driving
- Hitting the highway’s rumble strip
- Car accidents or near misses
- Head bobbing
- Brief loss of muscle control
- Falling down or slumping over
- Dropping something held
Preventing Sleep Deprivation
What can you do to prevent sleep deprivation? Well, obviously, sleep! But with the busy schedules of today’s daily lives, sleep tends to take a back seat. But let’s make an attempt anyway.
- Set an alarm for 30 minutes prior to a reasonable bedtime. Try to afford yourself at least 6.5 to 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. When the alarm sounds, begin your bedtime routine.
- Turn off the TV, finish whatever it is you are doing, and dim the lights. While some people find it relaxing to listen to soft music or read their phone screens at bedtime, these activities are not conducive to cultivating sleep.
- Keep fluids (especially caffeine) to a minimum to avoid having to wake during the night to answer the call of nature.
- If you are waking up groggy, or if you wake up with a headache, you may have sleep apnea. Visit your doctor for a checkup. It might be that a CPAP machine can help you breathe better and sleep deeper at night.
- Make sure your room is dark. Invest in blackout blinds if you have a bright streetlamp outside, or if the sun rises before you do.
If you are still having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, see a physician. It’s that important. If you don’t have insurance, affordable medical care is available through the Community Care program at HOPE Healthcare Services. Contact HOPE Healthcare Services at 317-272-0708 or visit our website for more information.
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.