Good Sleep is Essential for Your Health

By Dr. Francis Lee, 

Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine Specialist


 National Sleep Awareness Week is March 11 – 17, and is a great time to highlight the importance of good sleep health.  While three quarters of Americans appear satisfied with our sleep, more than forty percent of us report that our daily activities were significantly impacted by poor or insufficient sleep at least once a week. Research shows that sufficient, quality sleep directly and positively affects our mental, physical and emotional well-being.

 We spend about 1/3 of our lives asleep! Together with a balanced diet and regular exercise, sleep is one of the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle. Getting the sleep that our body needs is essential for our health. To get good sleep, we need a regular bedtime. A consistent, nightly bedtime helps keep our biorhythm in balance. Infants need about 16 to 20 hours of sleep per day. During adolescence a change in the body clock keeps most teens from feeling sleepy till sometime past midnight. This makes waking up for school the next day challenging! 

Adults who don’t get enough sleep tend to act sluggish. However, sleep-deprived children can be hyperactive which may lead to a misdiagnosis of attention deficit disorder. Drowsy driving is associated with one fifth of all serious car-crash injuries. 

It is estimated that 50 million to 70 million Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder.  Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint, affecting about 30 percent of adults.  Sometimes our biorhythms can be thrown out of sync by the simplest of things. For every time zone that you cross during a flight, it takes your body a full day to adjust!

 Snoring is a warning sign for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is a chronic disease that afflicts almost 30 million men and women in America which largely remains undiagnosed or untreated. Sleep apnea results from a repeated collapse of the upper airway during sleep. It puts an enormous strain on our hearts by repeatedly causing oxygen levels to drop and blood pressure to go up as we sleep.

 Sleep apnea increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, irregular heart rhythms, diabetes, and even cancer. It more than doubles our risk of dying from heart disease.

 In conclusion, paying attention to our sleep habits and asking for help if a sleep disorder is suspected can lead to a healthier, longer and more fulfilling life.

Dr. Francis Lee is a Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine Physician at Calais Regional Medical Services.  He provides a full complement of health services for pulmonary and sleep conditions.  CRMS care includes outpatient services, sleep evaluations, testing, chronic disease management, and much more. CRMS Pulmonology can be reached at 454-9380 and is located at 37 Palmer Street in Calais.