by Peter Yurek, BSc.Phm.
According to various reports, 35% of Canadians are sleep deprived. That’s in line with our pharmacists’ observations in the past two years. We all require at least seven hours of slumber each night. Any less can lead to sleep deprivation, which may have serious consequences for our physical and mental health.
Symptoms of short-term sleep deprivation include:
- Microsleeps or nodding off (extremely dangerous when driving or operating machinery)
- Poor decision-making
- Reduced alertness
- Slower reaction time
- Increased irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory issues
- Lower pain threshold
While the occasional late night or two affects mainly the next day’s performance, it is the cumulative effect of missed hours of sleep that create long-term consequences. Some studies have shown that catch-up slumber cannot quickly erase the effects of lost sleep.
Long-term effects of lack of sleep include:
- Increased risk of cardiovascular health
- Increased risk of high blood pressure
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of stroke
- Lowered immune system response
- Mental health issues
- Increased risks of falls and accidents
Adequate night sleep can improve our physical and mental health and enable us to use our time more effectively to accomplish more enjoy life.
Suggestions to improve sleep habits include:
- Use our bed for sleep only
- Limit caffeine intake to early in the day
- Exercise and get enough sunlight
- Keep the bedroom cool, clean, and quiet
- Develop a bedtime routine (bath, teeth, pyjamas, reading, no electronics) that also includes a regular wake-up time