Good Night’s Sleep Has Many Health Benefits

Is anyone else feeling tired? I know the winter here in Chautauqua County has been cold and long.

With the springing forward in our Daylight Saving time and our change in sunrises and sunsets, most of us are feeling out of sorts. You can’t deny the benefit of a good night’s rest. Sleep or the lack of good quality/quantity sleep, affects both our mental and physical health. More and more we hear how important sleep is to us and the potential pitfalls that may come with the lack of sleep.

Dr. Merrill Mitler, sleep expert and neuroscientist at the National Institutes for Health outlines why sleep is vital. “Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness and mood.”

When you are tired, you are generally less productive in your day’s activities. Sleep impairs ability to reason, problem-solve and paying attention to details. We all have probably had moody days when nothing went right because we were tired. A cranky person is not so much fun to work with or go through their line at the check out counter. Long-term effects can cause depression-type symptoms; it can affect breathing, blood pressure, cardiovascular health, appetite and slow down your reflexes. Did I mention the connection with obesity as well? Sleep is important. During sleep your body releases hormones that help repair the cells of the body and have effects on the body’s use of energy. These changes can affect your body weight.

How do we get a good night’s sleep? It can be work for some and come so naturally to others. Sleep disorder clinics and specialists are on the rise. They are imperative for some people that suffer from sleep disorders. The most common sleep disorders are sleep apnea and insomnia. Usually a good night’s sleep consists of four to five cycles that include deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

REM sleep is associated with times when we dream. NIH researchers point out that this REM type of sleep increases in each cycle as the night goes by. This pattern is important to the biology of sleep. On average an adult person needs between 7-8 hours per night. To obtain the maximum restorative benefits you need to get enough sleep. Sleep can be disrupted by many things including stimulants like caffeine close to bed. Sleep experts suggest a “sleep routine” to include the basics: going to bed at the same time each night, have a dark, quiet, comfortable atmosphere, regular daily exercise, turn off the electronics from TVs to cellphones, use relaxation techniques to slow down, avoid nicotine, stimulants and alcohol.

If you find yourself in any of these scenarios, talk with your health care provider. They can assess and then refer you if necessary to a sleep specialist. Chautauqua County has many resources for chronic sleep problems. If anything, it is good to know that you are not alone in your suffering with sleep. Some figures are speculating that more than 70 million people suffer from a chronic sleep problem. You can call NY Connects for information about the sleep clinics here in Chautauqua County, find places to go to exercise or activities/classes that may be in your area.

People can get information and assistance with referrals to many community agencies and programs designed to help people remain at home and offer support in their communities. NY Connects assesses your needs and then gives you options you can choose from to meet them. We encourage people that are caregivers, non-seniors, medical professionals, seniors, and parents-everyone that is looking for information, looking to plan ahead and be prepared to call and see how this service can be helpful to them.

NY Connects is information and assistance telephone service provided by New York state for people of all ages, who have ongoing health problems and needs. This service is confidential and free and focused on the consumer’s needs and resources available to them. NY Connects can assist you even further by making referrals directly to several programs even while you are on the phone line saving you time and additional phone calls. Connecting people with helpful services and programs that meet their needs is what NY Connects is all about, providing information to people who may need additional levels of care and assisting them in pursuing them. You can access Chautauqua County New York Connects in many ways to fit your needs.

Email ccnyc@co.chautauqua.ny.us; Call: Mayville 753-4582, Dunkirk 363-4582 or Jamestown 661-7582; fax 753-4477. You can even come to our main office location at 7 North Erie St., Mayville, in the HRC building at the county seat offices. NY Connects is brought to you by the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging and the Chautauqua County department of Social Services.