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Sleeplessness And Insomnia: A Hidden Health Crisis With Deadly Consequences
Episode 215th March 2023 • What The Health: News & Information To Live Well & Feel Good • John Salak
00:00:00 00:20:10

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Are you struggling to get enough sleep? You're not alone. Millions of Americans suffer from sleep deprivation and insomnia, which can seriously affect our health and well-being. Women are at a higher risk than men, and losing just one hour of sleep due to daylight savings time can compound the issue. Poor sleep patterns can even be linked to 8% of deaths from any cause.

But don't worry; there are things you can do to improve your sleep. The key is to create a healthy sleep environment, reduce stress, and lead a healthy lifestyle. And if you're considering sleep aids, weigh the potential risks and benefits and seek professional help if necessary.

Don't let sleeplessness and fatigue hold you back. Take action today to improve your sleep and protect your health.

[0:00:30]: The Hidden Health Crisis of Sleep Deprivation: How Lack of Rest is Killing Us

[0:02:19]: Impact of Sleep on Everyone’s Lifespan and Common Causes of Insomnia

[0:04:14]: Impact of Sleeplessness and Insomnia on Society and Personal Health

[0:07:37]: The Impact of Sleep Deprivation and Insomnia on Health and Well-Being

[0:09:20]: Sleep Hygiene and Practices: Advice on Using Sleep Aids and Improving Routines

[0:10:41]: Tips for Winding Down Before Bedtime

[0:13:00]: Tips for Better Sleep: Avoiding Cell Phone Use, Hydrating, and Resolving Conflict Before Bed

[0:14:16]: Sleep Hygiene Tips and Health Hacks for a Better Night's Sleep

[0:15:45]: Tips for Better Sleep: Weighted Blankets, Hot Showers, Gratitude, and Sleep Logging

[0:18:19]: Tips for Improving Sleep Quality and Overcoming Insomnia

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Let's talk about sleep today, or the lack thereof, because we need to wake up to the dangers of insomnia, and sleeplessness is a hidden health crisis, and it's threatening the young, the middle-aged, and older adults with both short and long-term health implications. Now I'm gonna start with a bet. I bet you're tired a lot of the time.

Maybe all of the time, guess what, you're not alone. Perhaps a third of American adults are sleep deprived, and depending on who's counting that puts the raw number, it's somewhere between 50 and 70 million adults who are moping around on any given day. What may be worse, it's estimated that 30% of adults are wrestling with insomnia and one in 10 are dealing with chronic insomnia.

Now, maybe you're not a sleep expert, but in case you're wondering, sleep deprivation means that people are simply not getting the hours of sleep they need. They want to, they just sit in time in the day. They're too busy. They don't have enough time to do it. For those suffering from insomnia, it means even though they have the time, they just can't fall asleep, even though they want to.

Either way, the lack of rest is dangerous. In fact, it may even be killing us, killing the young and shortening the lives of mature and older adults. WellWell recently reported on a study presented to the American College of Cardiology that found young people who sleep well are less likely to die early than their peers who have trouble sleeping.

Related data suggests that about 8% of deaths from any cause could be attributed to poor sleep patterns. Obviously there are a lot of interconnected issues here, but sleep obviously contributes to your health. Research also found, this is the same research, also found that adult men who sleep well add almost five years to their lives compared to those who don't.

Women who sleep well tend to add a little over two years to their lives compared to women who don't. Now, this may not be surprising for many but women suffer insomnia at a much higher rate than men. In fact, they have about a 40% higher risk of insomnia during their lifetime than do men. Men in term have a much greater chance of obstructive sleep apnea, 12.5 percent to about 3.3% for women.

Now, sort of the elephant or the room or the issue we need face, not just whether we're sleeping enough, how much sleep do we need? Well, WellWell checked in with the Sleep Foundation and it advises that newborns need about 14 to 17 hours sleep daily. A preschooler should get 10 to 13 hours while a teenager needs to knod off at about 8 to 10 hours a day.

By the time someone reaches middle age, they should log in seven to nine hours, and when they hit 65, maybe we need about seven or eight hours sleep at night.

Americans are losing sleep for all sorts of reasons. We're either overweight. We eat too late. We're sick, we're menopausal, we're jet lagged. Maybe we're too stressed out. We drank too much alcohol before bed. Our sleeping partner snores. Yeah, we gotta visit the bathroom constantly during the middle of the night.

Maybe we're jacked up on caffeine or nicotine or we can't put down the damn laptop, cell phones and iPads. You know the blue light. Those devices emit rec havoc with your brains, which does nothing to promote sleep, in fact, it hindered it. Oh yeah. Being pregnant doesn't help. Neither does having restless leg syndrome, nightmares, sleepwalking, having injuries or sleep apnea.

One estimate also notes that 50% of insomnia cases stem from anxiety, depression, or psychological issues. Now come March or may be another issue as well. And WellWell's reported on this several times, and that's the impact of daylight savings time. Sure, when the clocks spring forward in March, we lose an hour of sleep, but the impact that hour has on our body over the several days is pretty significant.

It leads to lingering fatigue, which repeatedly leads to a spike in car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, depression, and workplace accident. Now, America's problem or chronic problem with sleeplessness and insomnia isn't just a personal issue, and we're gonna get into more of that in a minute, but it, also is a societal issue.

And here's some examples. The US experiences 6,000 fatal car crashes each year because of fatigue. People suffering from insomnia are seven times more likely to have a workplace accident than those who sleep well. And obviously those car crashes and workplace accidents not only affect the people who haven't slept well or fatigued, they're also affecting people around them.

Nurses who are forced to work 12.5 hour shifts are three times more likely to commit medical errors as those better rested workers working eight hours, and we all know nurses work incredibly hard, so no one is blaming them. We're just talking about the hours they work and the impact of fatigue on them.

Overall, the impact of sleeplessness, insomnia, medical bills, lost productivity, accidents on the economy is $400 billion annually. Now those are the societal issues. It's also a very personal problem. It's more than just lousy sleep. Sure, at minimum you don't sleep well, you're tired.

You're probably also grumpy, less productive. Maybe you're a little more prone to accidents, but things get worse from there, and this is going to lead to short and long-term serious medical issues. And here are some of the things that can lead to chronic fatigue. It can lead to long-term cognitive and memory issues.

Many studies have also linked it to Alzheimer's. Now this can also lead to mood swings that can lead to severe depression and anxiety. It can also weaken your immune system if you have a weakened immune system because you're constantly tired; you're more susceptible to colds, flus, and other problems. It also leads to weight gain, or at least there's a correlation between fatigue and weight gain.

Probably cuz you're not as active. You're not as active, you're not burning calories. You're less likely to go to the gym. You're more sedentary. You're sitting down on the couch snorting Twinkies when you should be doing something else. Obviously, there's also a correlation between fatigue, sleeplessness, insomnia, and heart disease.

And heart disease is a big killer, and that ranges through a lot of problems. It also lowers your sex drive. If you're tired, you're gonna have a lower sex drive. You're also going to have poorer balance. And there are other issues as well, but those are some of the critical ones. And many of those are life threatening.

Now, a lot of these problems also create a vicious cycle. Let's think that if fatigue or sleepiness leads to weight gain. Well then you, the heavier you are, the less likely you're gonna sleep well. If you don't sleep well, the more likely you are, you're gonna gain weight. So that's gonna create a cycle, a vicious cycle that's not gonna do you any good.

And it's gonna lead to more problems. And that's the same thing for anxiety and depression. The more depressed you are, the less well you sleep. The less well you sleep, the more depressed you are. So that's a terribly vicious cycle and it only makes things harder. So that's why getting a handle on not just the fact that we don't sleep well as a nation or as people. And so many people are suffering from insomnia and sleeplessness, but the implications are more than just being a little tired and a little grumpy. They really have long-term medical issues that we need to address and think about, and at least begin to think about correcting them.

It's natural to scoff off sleep problems. We think it's just a passing issue. We'll take a wait and see attitude, and a couple days we'll be sleeping soundly. Sometimes that happens, a lot of times it doesn't because the issues that are creating problems with our sleep patterns are pretty deep, and they may require specialized treatments by professionals.

Ultimately, there's no good reason to wait and see your doctor if you're suffering from sleep deprivation or insomnia for an extended period. Medication and other treatments may be required, and waiting isn't gonna make matters better. It's only gonna mean you're gonna lose less sleep. Now if you are having sleep problems, and a lot of us do at times.

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So obviously there's a lot of products on the market. Now, some of these sleep products may be perfectly good for you. They may work for some people, not work for others. Some of them may not do anyone any good. They may be a reason and some may even be dangerous.

We're not telling you not to use them or to look at them. We're just advising you to use caution. And if you are going to go start engaging with some over-the-counter products or some things that seem faddish. And this could be things like mouth taping, some antis snoring devices. It's always good to check in with your doctor ahead of time.

Does he think he or she think these products are gonna work? and is there something you should know about how to use them? Because some people use these products such as mouth taping in a way that may do more harm than good. So, think about sleep aids, but be skeptical and, sell some out with someone else, with professionals that know maybe a little bit more than you do on that.

Now sleep aids are fine and there may be medical treatments and medications that will help you with sleep issues. But improving sleep hygiene is and practices that, that is always a great idea and it's something you can do on your own. And ultimately it will lead to more rest, greater energy, less stress, and improved moods.

Now sound sleep is always gonna start with routines, and this means practicing good routines and breaking bad ones, all of which prioritize sleep. So what are some of the routines we're talking about? Okay, it's good to go to bed at the same time every night and ditto for getting up. Your body then feels it's in rhythm and it kind of expects what's going to happen and it begins to naturally prepare itself.

It's also a good idea to avoid long time or long daytime naps. Your power nap is fine, but you don't have any coning out for one to two hours every day unless there's some extenuating circumstances. It's good to start winding down before you hit the sheets, so that means not running around, doing an outside project, doing work doing something else right up to the time you're gonna crash, because chances are when you hit the sheets you're gonna be wide awake and you're not gonna be ready to sleep, and then you're gonna be staring at the ceiling wondering why you can't go to sleep. And then you're gonna get anxious and then you're gonna have a tougher time sleeping still.

Obviously, skip drinking coffee or caffeinated beverages late at night.

Some people can do it. A lot of people can't. They don't realize sometimes when their body begins to shift and what they could do at 20 or 30 or 40, they can no longer do it at 50 or 60. It's also a good idea not to eat late. I'm totally guilty of this. I wind up eating at 9, 9 30, 10 o'clock at night cuz I tend to work late.

But just because I do it and it's silly, it doesn't mean that you should do it as well. So try and eat earlier. It allows your stomach to digest the food so it's not sitting there when you're lying in bed and you can't sleep. And then you're thinking about why do I feel so full imploded?

Exercise is a great idea. It's good for all sorts of reasons. It's also good to promote sleep, but it is not a good idea to exercise really late at night. Within an hour or hour and a half of going to bed, your body is not gonna wind down. It's gonna be too pumped up from the aerobics or whatever else you are doing. You know, so great exercise, but then you've gotta chill out ahead of time.

If you can, if you're gonna exercise, maybe in the morning, mid-afternoon, obviously if you're playing ball or doing something else at night, it's fine, but give yourself time to chill out. You're not gonna be able to go from work or household task and exercise right to bed. It's just not gonna work.

We've said it before. You've got to unplug computer cell phones, iPads, at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The blue light these devices are sending out is just banging around on the inside of your head and it's not doing any good. It's gonna prevent you from going to sleep. You also don't need to look at your cell phone.

During the night, 15 times, there's probably nothing happening that you need to really be informed of. And every time you look at it, it just ignites that blue light phenomenon that's not doing you any good. Now here's the thing. What about water and hydrating and stuff like that before bed?

It's important to hydrate cuz if you don't hydrate, you're gonna be dry and this is not gonna help you sleep. However, if you drink too much, you're gonna wind up having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Many of us are already susceptible to going to the bathroom several times during the night, especially as we get older.

So you want to try and find a happy balance or at least limit what you're drinking late at night. Obviously things like alcohol should, you shouldn't drink late, late at night, but I'm talking about water or just other non-alcoholic beverages. It's not gonna help you. It's also a good idea not to go to bed angry.

Whether this means you're angry at a partner and that's not good for your relationship, or you've just watched your college basketball team, miss a bunny with a second and a half left in the game and you can't believe it and they're not gonna make the tournament and you're going nuts, or you're watching, the Mets, God forbid, lose to the Braves, again in September and you think, oh my God, why am I watching this?

And it's only gonna make you angry. It's not gonna do you any good. If you're angry with your partner, it's not gonna do them any good. Ultimately, you're not gonna sleep well. So any problems you have to resolve are only gonna be harder. So those are big sort of sleep hygiene elements that you want to consider, and there's some others, but those are some main ones.

Now one thing we do with all of our podcasts, we try and pick a product that is in our, WellWell, being community site, which offers exclusive discounts to the members to present to our listeners, especially one that relates to the topic at hand. So for this episode, we are flagging you guys to a natur e-pedic organic mattress discount that we offer exclusively through WellWell USA.

And by signing up and being a WellWell community member, you're gonna get 15% off the purchase of any adult youth or infant mattress. And all you have to do is sign up to become a member of WellWell-Being. It's free, it's easy. And it also opens you up to hundreds of other exclusive deals available from our community.

And they ranged everything from food to athletic equipment. There's just hundreds of things in there that are good for you. Now to do it, just go to WellWell and you look under Milton's discounts.

You pull down the menu and you will see the sign up there. And I believe we'll also have other information on that. Now what we wanted to do too is we wanted to offer up specific health hacks for each of our topics. On sleep, we've come up with some that we've developed at, WellWell from our research and whatnot.

They're a little different than the routines. I mean, they do fit into a routine, but they're a little bit different. So, what do we do? We're looking at five different health hacks. Things that are gonna help you knod off. Some of these may work for some of you. They may not work for others, but they do work in many cases.

So one of the things to think about is waiting for sleep. What does that mean? There's an increasing use of weighted blankets that help people relax and fall asleep. It's also similar to what you might use, what's bigger, but similar to what you might use a thunder blanket for a dog. You know that many dogs are terrified of thunder and they have weighted blankets that you can put on them that almost serve as a hug to calm them during thunderstorms.

Well weighted blankets serve the same way to help calm you. And help you fall asleep, relax and calm you. They're widely available, they come at all sorts of different costs. I mean, you can check out ratings and rankings and we'd advise you to do that, but it's believed that they not only help calm you, they help the body release the oxycotin and the serotonin chemicals that are linked to happiness, and relaxation.

So that's something to consider. Another health hack that we like is It's worth considering taking a hot bath or a hot shower or warm hot bath or shower before going to bed. And this promotes better quality sleep because funnily enough, by the warmth of the shower, which is relaxing, it allows the body temperature afterwards to fall faster, which builds it into a better sleep cycle.

So consider you're having trouble sleeping. Go take a hot shower, warm shower, warm bath. That may help. There is a way, some people certainly, or we have seen this and have seen some research on this, and this is practicing gratitude at bedtime and it's almost a matter of sort of tossing off the day's concerns.

This doesn't have to be a religious element. It can be, but it doesn't have to be. But the concept is to practice gratitude at bedtime through prayer, meditation, or simple reflection. And it's believed, and there's some supportive research to this, so I know some people may doubt it, that it will boost self-esteem and help the body unload and unwind from the day.

If that works for you, that's gonna make it easier. Another thing you might want to consider is teeing up, and that doesn't mean playing golf before you go to bed. You can play golf during the day, but there are various herbal tees. That are believed to help relax a body. Especially, certain herbal teeth such as magnolia, chamomile, lavender they have been believed to induce relaxation and induce sleep for many, many years, centuries, in fact. Now, the final health hack is a little bit more involved.

And this means not just logging off with your cell phones, but logging on, and by doing this, if you're having trouble sleeping, it's advised to keep a record of your sleeping patterns, such as when you went to bed, when you woke up, when you exercised, when you ate, took naps, drank alcohol or caffeine, any of your regular activities.

Keep it for a few weeks and you can look over that and then track and say, okay, I really didn't sleep well Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, or I didn't sleep well for the last week. What was I doing the last week? And why? You can probably pick up patterns that you can see that may be inhibiting your sleep. So, it's worth doing that.

It's worth tracking what's working for you and what's not working for you. And then we'll pick it up from there and see what's happening. See if you can find man, I'm doing the same thing every day and it's not working as well as it should. And then you can eliminate it and keep a login and do that.

I mean, you don't have to go nuts about it, but certainly recording what you're doing to see if it's, it's working is, is one way to do this. Now, that's what we're covering today or in this episode of What the Health, in terms of sleep issues. Again, it is a very big issue and we have just scratched the surface. There's a lot more involved with sleep issues and insomnia. But if you are one of the tens of million Americans who are not getting enough sleep, you've gotta figure out why. And, and you've gotta try and help yourself get there. There are plenty of sources that you can look at for help.

The Cleveland Clinic center for Disease control. There's always a lot of great advice online for you to begin to suss out what may be worth doing to make you sleep a little better. And we'd advise you to do that because it's really dangerous.

You've gotta sleep well to feel well and be well. And we hope you do sleep better, and feel better and be better. Thanks.