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Published on June 13, 2017

The importance of sleep, and why your health depends on getting enough of it

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By Amy Northrop, Lawrence Memorial Hospital

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Busy school or work schedules. After-work activities or evening meetings. Round-the-clock access to technology.

It’s abundantly clear to most Americans that we are a sleep-deprived nation. But few of us fully understand the negative impact that lack of sleep is having on our overall health and well-being.

Good health and good sleep go together. For example, a link has been drawn between insufficient sleep and a number of chronic health diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. In addition, lack of sleep can make it harder to perform daily tasks — or can cause more immediate, disastrous consequences, such as nodding off while driving.

Many factors can affect sleep, including chronic pain, stress and even dental issues such as excessively grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw.

More information about sleep disorders, help

In addition to social and environmental factors — such as overuse of technology or emotional stress — and physical conditions such as chronic pain, there are more than 80 types of sleep disorders.

Here is a quick look at four of the most common: 

Steven G. Hull, MD medical director at the LMH Sleep Center

Steven G. Hull, MD medical

director at the LMH Sleep Center

James Otten, DDS, of James Otten Dentistry

James Otten, DDS, of

James Otten Dentistry

• People who suffer from insomnia have difficulty falling or staying asleep. About 50 percent of adults experience occasional bouts of insomnia, and 1 in 10 people suffer from chronic insomnia.

It can occur by itself or be associated with a medical or psychiatric condition.

• Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. Sleep apnea can occur when a person’s airway is blocked, often when the soft tissue at the back of their throat collapses. That is called obstructive sleep apnea. The other type, which is called common sleep apnea, occurs when a sleeper’s brain does not “tell” his or her body to breathe.

• People with restless leg syndrome have an overwhelming urge to move their legs. That can occur when they are lying down or sitting for an extended amount of time. A person with RLS often wants to shake his or her legs to relieve the painful sensation.

• A person who has narcolepsy, which is a neurological disorder, has difficulty controlling when they fall asleep. For someone with narcolepsy, sudden, uncontrollable periods of falling asleep can occur at any time and during any type of activity.

— Amy Northrop is physician liaison manager at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, a major sponsor of WellCommons. She can be reached at amy.northrop@lmh.org.

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Media Contact:

Belinda Rehmer
Communications Coordinator
785-505-3131
belinda.rehmer@lmh.org