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Sleepless in Sacramento

Posted Apr 24th, 2012 by Pat Brown
Americans are sleepless from Sacramento to Miami and everything in between. Why wecannot sleep is a million dollar question but I am relatively certain that it is not because we donot have enough to do. Many of us wake up and begin our day before the sun comes up. Thenwe work straight through until the day ends and into the blackest of night. Ninety percent ofthat time we spend doing some kind of work: cooking, cleaning, parenting, homework, work-work, and all the necessary errands that makes life happen conveniently. I would think thatthe sandman would be buried alive under our dead weighted, comatose bodies instead we areup looking for sleep. So, what is sleep, why do we need it, and why does it run from us everynight?

Sleep remains a mystery and in many areas, what we do know about it we have justrecently learned. Sleep research according to the American Sleep Association (ASA) connectsto the nervous system and design is to repair cell damage, support physical energy performance,and monitor and stimulate brain activities. Neurons linked to sleep, closely relate to the immunesystem; this mean circulatory [ throughout the body]. It turns out that sleeping disorders arecommonplace in many serious medical diseases such strokes, seizures, cancer, and infections[suffering succotash!] Sleep deprivation or insomnia [the medical terminology] activates a longlist of environmental, hormonal, stress related, neurological, and emotional factors that worsenour sleep debt [the bodies sleep bank] and makes us physically ill. Lack of sleep affects therespiration and heart rate.

Statistics from the ASA indicate that 40 million Americans suffer from the continuousinability to get their snooz on [sleep]. Another 20 million have occasional bouts of sleepingproblems like difficulty getting to sleep, difficulty staying asleep, sleep apnea [breathing stopsduring sleep], interrupted sleep, sleep deprivation [impairment from the wrong sleep cycle],and nightmares That is 60 million people! [sounds like an epidemic does the CDC know?]Should we open up more night businesses and run the country at twilight instead of noon or arevampires on the rise? Great zombies in the night those numbers are scary! Now to make mattersmore complicated it appears that sleep is just as important as a balanced diet and exercise tokeep us well tuned. We need healthy sleep habits just as much as we need wholesome nutrition.Sleeplessness is a medical problem that must be taken seriously. People fall asleep at the wheeldriving sleep deprived [nothing dreamy about that scenario]. We minimize sleep deprivationbecause we assume that sleep will happen on its own when our bodies are ready or when ourbodies collapse from exhaustion. News flash! There is a purpose and process for sleep and weneed to understand what that is. We need to think of sleep as a necessity, we prepare to eat,we prepare bathe, and we need to prepare to sleep not treat it like it is dead or wasted time orvaluable time we have lost. Sleep is our time to sink into ourselves into repair mode for ourbody and recharge mode for our mind.

Åkerstedt, T., Ingre, M., Kecklund, G., Anund, A., Sandberg, D., Wahde, M., Kronberg, P.
(2010). Reaction of sleepiness indicators to partial sleep deprivation, time of day and
time on task in a driving simulator – the DROWSI project. Journal of Sleep Research,
American Sleep Association. What is sleep?
Brand, S., Beck, J., Hatzinger, M., Harbugh, A., Ruch, W.,& Holsboer-Trachsler, E. (2010).Associations between satisfaction with life, burnout-related emotional and physicalexhaustion, and sleep complaints. World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, 11(5), p744754.
Hasson, D., & Gustavsson, P. (2010). Declining sleep quality among nurses: A population-basedfour-year longitudinal study on the transition from nursing education to working life.PLoS ONE, 5(12). p1-6.
Skaer, T., & Sclar, D. A. (2010). Economic implications of sleep disorders.
PharmacoEconomics, 28(11). p1015-1023.
About the author

Ms. Pat Brown MSN, APN, RN
Doctoral Candidate - RN for Luten Nursing Services and ADJ FCLTY at UOP

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