When it comes to maintaining good health, one of the key steps — besides eating well and exercising — is getting a good night’s sleep. Getting enough solid rest is absolutely essential when it comes to keeping your body strong and healthy. Therefore assessing your sleeping habits should be a regular aspect of your annual health check-up, according to a recent editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association/Archives Journal.
Good sleep doesn’t come naturally to all of us. In fact, many studies have pointed out that a lot of North Americans have a difficult time getting enough adequate sleep. This problem is especially prevalent among seniors, as aging, age-related illnesses, and sleep disorders have all been linked together, according to several studies.
Many individuals don’t address their sleep issues with their doctor or health care practitioner, which only compounds the problem. This is why making sleep assessments part of the annual check-up routine could benefit millions.
According to the authors of the editorial, Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD, and Fred W. Turek, PhD (from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago), sleep is an important means of assessing a person’s health.
In the editorial, they noted, “The theme that emerges throughout this issue is that sleep serves as an indicator of health and quality of life and therefore is highly and directly relevant to the practice of medicine.” They also went on to add that sleep disorders, when combined with other illnesses and conditions, can have a negative impact on one’s health and his/her overall quality of life. What’s more, poor sleep and bad health have a symbiotic relationship, where one problem tends to compound the other.
Along with the editorial, in the issue of Journal of the American Medical Association/Archives Journal, studies mentioned noted the following:
— In one survey of 17,000 college students, less sleep translated to poorer health.
— People living in rural areas who sleep less appear to have a higher body mass index, on average.
— Having a weak immune system could place you at a greater risk of developing narcolepsy, a sleep disorder where you suddenly fall asleep or feel an uncontrollable urge to sleep.
— Poor sleep affects your immune system to such a degree that it can actually alter your blood chemistry in a negative way that it leaves you open to inflammation and disease.
Sleep is an indicator of either poor or good health. Make sure that you get enough shuteye on a regular and routine basis. Don’t skimp on sleep and ensure you set up your bedroom in a sleep-promoting way. Get rid of distractions, ensure your bed is comfortable, and stick to a solid routine that ensures you get at least eight hours of good rest every night.
If you are having a difficult time sleeping, or think that you may have a sleeping disorder, consult with your doctor about different therapy options that can help you. Don’t neglect this vital aspect of your health — it may affect you in more negative ways than you could imagine.