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Published on March 02, 2011

What Do You Know (Or Think You Know) About Sleep?

March 2, 2011

Sleep is an essential life process. It is as important to our well-being as the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Unfortunately, it is easy to take sleep for granted. Busy people sometimes regard sleep as a waste of time. They take time away from sleep to tend to affairs of the day. Sleep deprivation is a common feature of our society, affecting children and adults alike. As a nation, we are increasingly a sleep-deprived people, and we pay a price for it.

It is important to understand the importance of sleep to our health and to understand the consequences of poor sleep or lack of sleep.

How much do you know about sleep? Find out by taking our True/False quiz.

Drinking coffee cures drowsiness.

True

False

Nearly everyone gets enough sleep

True

False

Sleep is time for the body and brain to shut down for rest.

True

False

The body quickly adjusts to different sleep schedules.

True

False

ANSWERS 

FALSE - Drinking coffee cures drowsiness. Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. Coffee and other caffeine-containing drinks and over-the-counter medicines can be helpful, temporary remedies for sleepiness, but their effects last only a short time. If you are seriously sleep-deprived, drinking coffee is not the answer. You may still experience brief uncontrollable “naps” that last a few seconds (called microsleeps), even while driving. Consider what could happen if you drive while drowsy at 55 miles per hour. How far could you travel in five seconds while asleep? Keep in mind, there is no substitute for sleep to relieve sleepiness.

FALSE - Nearly everyone gets enough sleep. According to recent surveys, over half of the American population reports occasional sleeping difficulties. A frequent complaint is not feeling rested upon waking. The average person requires eight hours of sleep per night (adolescents need nine or more hours of sleep per night), and this is often not achieved.

FALSE - Sleep is time for the body and brain to shut down for rest. Sleep is an active process involving specific cues for onset and regulation. Although there are modest decreases in metabolic rates, there is no evidence that any major organ or regulatory system in the body shuts down during sleep. In fact, some brain activities increase dramatically. During sleep, the endocrine system increases the secretion of certain hormones, such as growth hormone and prolactin. Sleep is a very dynamic process.

FALSE - The body quickly adjusts to different sleep schedules. The circadian clock attempts to function according to a normal day/night schedule, even when people try to change it.  People who work night shifts naturally feel sleepy when nighttime comes. This conflict with the natural biological rhythm leads to a decrease in cognitive and motor skills. The biological clock can be reset but only by one or two hours per day. Changing certain behaviors, such as sleeping in a dark, quiet room and getting exposure to bright light at the right time, may reduce the problem. However, continued shift work will affect the quality of a person’s sleep.

Valley West Community Hospital is proud to announce the opening of its Sleep Disorders Center. A public open house is scheduled on Tuesday, March 15, from 3-6 pm. The sleep center provides patients with a complete overnight evaluation and all related services to diagnose and treat their sleep disorders, help improve their quality of life and achieve restful, restorative sleep.

The Sleep Disorders Center is operated by America’s Sleep Network, Inc., under the direction of Valley West Community Hospital staff. The Sleep Disorders Center is located at 11 Pleasant Avenue, Sandwich, directly inside of Valley West Community Hospital.  For more information please call the Valley West Sleep Disorder Center at 815.277.3979 or toll free at 888-SLEEP-77.

Source: National Institutes of Health

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