Better Sleep Month

May 8, 2024 - Omolara Falade PharmDc/MBAc and Kristi Green, MS

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Sleep is not just a state of rest but a crucial process supporting physical, mental, and emotional health. Adequate sleep is necessary for optimal cognitive function, memory consolidation, and decision-making. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 18 and 64 require 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for optimal health and well-being.2   Unfortunately, a significant portion of the population fails to meet this recommendation. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that roughly one-third of adults in the United States do not get enough sleep regularly.3  Lack of sleep impairs our cognitive abilities and weakens our immune system.4 Additionally, it can impact our mood, productivity, and safety. It is essential to recognize the impact of sleep deprivation and take measures to ensure that we get enough rest to protect our health.

 

For many individuals, achieving restful sleep can be challenging due to the common occurrence of sleep disorders. Sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome can disrupt sleep patterns and affect quality of life.5 According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Insomnia affects 30% of adults, and obstructive sleep apnea affects 25 million adults in the United States.6  Factors such as stress, lifestyle choices, and underlying health conditions can contribute to these disorders. Recognizing the signs and seeking treatment early is important. Further insights into the complications associated with insomnia can be found in the diagram below. 7

Achieving high-quality sleep hinges on practicing good sleep hygiene. Experts recommend incorporating several key measures to improve sleep quality:

  • Minimize screen time before bedtime
  • Reduce exposure to bright lights
  • Refrain from consuming heavy meals or engaging in vigorous exercise close to bedtime
  • Ensure the bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet to enhance sleep quality
  • Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow for optimal rest
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends, to regulate your body’s internal clock and foster healthy sleep habits.6,8

 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is also a highly effective psychological treatment that promotes healthier sleep habits.6,8 This psychological approach addresses the thoughts and behaviors contributing to insomnia. CBT-I helps individuals develop healthy sleep habits and overcome obstacles to restful sleep by targeting these factors. It typically involves techniques such as cognitive restructuring, sleep restriction, stimulus control, and relaxation training. Research has shown that CBT-I can improve sleep quality without the potential side effects associated with medications.9

 

Recommendations

If you find yourself constantly struggling with sleep despite adopting good sleep habits, consult a healthcare professional who can conduct a thorough evaluation to diagnose any underlying sleep disorders and provide personalized recommendations for treatment, which may include lifestyle adjustments, therapy, or medication.

 

The following medication classes are based on the 2017 American Academy of Sleep Medicine clinical practice guidelines.10

 

It is abundantly clear that sleep isn’t merely a luxury—it’s a fundamental pillar of our physical and mental health. Still, contending with sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, and restless legs syndrome is a widespread challenge. Early detection and intervention are key. Embracing sound sleep hygiene practices and integrating cognitive-behavioral therapy offer effective pathways to enhance sleep quality. Additionally, pharmaceutical aids such as melatonin agonists and benzodiazepine receptor agonists can lend valuable assistance. Seeking guidance from health care professionals tailored to individual needs is paramount. By recognizing the significance of sleep and actively addressing any disruptions, individuals can nurture improved overall well-being, leading to a more fulfilling and purposeful life. So, here’s to restful nights and vibrant days ahead!

 

References

  1. The psychology of sleep: The stages, sleep paralysis and sleep disorders. Ananda Mental Wellness. (October 11, 2023). https://ananda.ai/blog/the-psychology-of-sleep-the-stages-sleep-paralysis-and-sleep-disorders/

  2. How much sleep do you really need? National Sleep Foundation. February 15, 2021. https://www.thensf.org/how-many-hours-of-sleep-do-you-really-need/#:~:text=Teens%20(14%2D17%20years),to%20eight%20hours%20is%20recommende

  3. Sleep and sleep disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 7, 2022. Accessed March 7, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/index.html

  4. Effects of sleep deprivation. Sleep Foundation. July 17, 2023. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-deprivation/effects-of-sleep-deprivation

  5. Sleep disorders: conditions that prevent you from getting restful sleep. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed March 7, 2024. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/11429-sleep-disorders

  6. Weir K. Diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. Accessed March 7, 2024. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2022/07/ce-sleep-disorders

  7. Insomnia in adults and children – Canadian sleep … (n.d.). https://css-scs.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Insomnia_Adult_Child.pdf

  8. Sleep disorder treatments. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Accessed March 7, 2024. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep-disorder-treatments

  9. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I): an overview. Sleep Foundation. January 16, 2024. Accessed March 7, 2024. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/treatment/cognitive-behavioral-therapy insomnia#:~:text=CBT%2DI%20techniques%20involve%20stimulus,term%20insomnia%20an%20chronic%20insomnia

  10. American Academy of Sleep Medicine Guidelines: AASM. American Academy of Sleep Medicine – Association for Sleep Clinicians and Researchers. (March 7, 2024). https://aasm.org/clinical-resources/practice-standards/practice-guidelines/