There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep, right? Eight hours of zzz’s helps you face the day energized and ready to work, study or tend to chores. It helps you tackle the stress of daily life head-on. Plus, studies show that getting a good night’s sleep helps boost immunity and improve brain function, according to Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine.
Now a new study shows that we are in the middle of an “epidemic” of sleep apnea, in which you have frequent pauses in breathing during sleep. When these pauses occur, your sleep becomes shallow and sleep quality is poor. It’s the deep sleep you need to maintain optimum health, and that’s in short supply when you suffer from apnea. You may be drowsy the next day – maybe even dangerously so, while driving or on the job. Not to mention that your sleeping partner may be roused by your snoring, having his or her rest disrupted, too.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, where the study was conducted, link sleep apnea with another epidemic in this country – obesity. The number of those experiencing sleep apnea – much like the numbers of obese individuals – has steadily risen, and 80 to 90 percent of the increase can be attributed to obesity. Men are more at risk than women, and risk increases with age.
There are many sleep disorder medical clinics out there – I noticed a new one on my way to the office yesterday. People spend valuable time and long hours in sleep studies, trying to figure out why their rest is disrupted and they feel so exhausted all the time. One big reason may actually be in plain sight – an increase in your waistline.
So when your doctor or nutritionist advises you to lose weight, here’s another reason to follow her guidance – you may sleep more soundly, feeling more refreshed and alert, and boost your body’s natural ability to fight off chronic disease.
Here’s to sleeping like a baby!