by Francisco Almenara-Dumur, Multimedia Journalist
WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) — The Centers for Disease Control report more than a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep.
Aside from being tired, not getting enough sleep can have pretty damaging effects.
“Putting you at high risk for things like heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation, heart attack, stroke,” said Winona Health Physician’s Assistant Denver Brown.
Brown says often times when people come in with complaints of high blood pressure or lack of energy, or even slight weight gain, lack of sleep is generally the underlying cause.
Brown says the bare minimum of sleep people need is around six hours.
For most people, keeping good sleep hygiene can be pretty simple.
“Trying to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, that helps get your body in a good rhythm,” Brown said.
People should also avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day
It can be much harder to reach a high quality stage of deep sleep for people who suffer from sleep apnea, which is a condition that causes people’s airways to collapse while they’re asleep.
“So that’s a problem because you will wake up because your body is starving for oxygen,” Brown said. “That can occur 30 to 50 times in an hour for some people.”
Brown says 26 percent of men and 9 percent of women have Sleep Apnea. To diagnose it, many undergo a sleep study.
With help from the experts at Winona Health’s Sleep Lab, we got a look at what actually happens during a session.
Sheri Laufle of Winona Health says the process involves multiple sensors placed in several spots.
In order to see what phase of sleep is going on, experts have to monitor brainwave activity, and other things like heartbeat and movement.
Once all the sensors are hooked up, it’s time to get to sleep, and all those wires aren’t as uncomfortable as it they may seem.
When the lights are off, the science starts. This is when experts analyze all aspects of your sleep.
If they find out that the patient has Sleep Apnea, an easy fix would be weight loss and reduced alcohol consumption. But for most, it means using a C-PAP machine.
“That basically means there’s a machine that gives you a small amount of forced air into your airways and into your lungs throughout the night so that the airway does not collapse and stays open,” Brown said.
If you find yourself being tired often, you might be putting other people in danger.
“We receive quite a few calls of people that are driving that are drowsy or fatigued,” said Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Troy Christianson. “A lot of times there’s the same driving conduct that impaired drivers have, weaving into lanes, crossing the center line and varying speeds.”
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, being tired at the wheel is just as bad as impaired driving and holds some of the same legal penalties.
And people who drive for a living need to take extra precautions.
“If your job requires a lot of driving there’s no way around fatigue or drowsiness,” Christianson said. “The best thing you can do is make sure you get sleep prior to going to work and that’s the only thing you can really do. If you do get tired then you’re going to have to stop and take a nap.”
When people think of keeping a healthy lifestyle, they generally think of good diet and exercise, but now you can add one more thing to the list, getting a good night’s sleep.