According to the Institute of Medicine, 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from a chronic sleep or wakefulness disorder. Inadequate sleep can stem from a variety of causes. It may be due to underlying issues, such as stress, depression, chronic pain or anxiety. It may be due to our modern environment of round-the-clock work schedules with constant access to technology and blue-light emitting devices at all hours of the day. Or, in some cases, it could be due to underlying sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia.
Sleep deficiency leads to an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes and workplace accidents. In addition, habitual sleep deprivation increases the risk of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, mood disorders and obesity.
The CDC has recognized the importance of sleep to the nation’s health and has paid more attention to sleep-related behaviors in recent years. Additionally, the Institute of Medicine encouraged collaboration between CDC and the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to support the development and surveillance of the U.S. population’s sleep patterns and associated outcomes.
Sleep is clearly important, but can we “make up” for lost sleep? Do sleep aids and boosters, such as naps, medications and devices really make a difference?
Naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep, but a short nap of 20-30 minutes can temporarily improve energy, mood, alertness and performance. A longer nap could leave you feeling groggy and can interfere with your nighttime sleep. If you have insomnia or poor quality sleep at night, pay careful attention to your napping habits; they could be doing more harm than good.
Some people find it helpful to use medication or supplements to help them fall asleep, sleep longer during the night, wake up less frequently or just improve the overall quality of sleep. These sleep aids may be worth considering if you’ve tried behavioral changes and other non-medical treatments that have not addressed the issue. Over-the-counter options should only be used for very short terms and not as a regular component of your sleep routine. If necessary, prescription sleep aids can work better and more specifically target your sleep issue.
Remember, while medications can be helpful in providing initial relief, most doctors agree that they should not be used indefinitely.
Wearable devices have gained incredible popularity in recent years and can provide great first indicators of issues. While a sleep wearable device will not make you feel more rested or help you fall asleep, it can be a useful tracking tool. They can help you determine whether your fitness, health and life habits are affecting your sleep. However, if you find yourself stressed out because you’re not meeting your goals or you think about your device’s sleep data while you struggle to fall asleep, it could be helpful to discontinue wearing the device overnight.
While power naps and medication can help in the short term, and a wearable device can make you more aware of your sleep, what should you do next? If you are having sleep issues, speaking with a sleep professional or taking a sleep health risk assessment is a smart next step to determine your risk of having a sleep disorder. By combining clinically validated sleep health risk assessments with a team of tele-sleep health professionals, you can quickly be on your way to better sleep.
Should you have any questions or like any assistance on your path to better sleep, contact the FusionHealth participant Resource Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-615-7257.