Oklahoma Doctor Reveals Why We Don't Get Enough Sleep

Wednesday, July 23rd 2014, 10:38 pm
By: News 9

Sleep specialists say most of us get less than seven hours of shut eye, when our bodies need more than eight.

Between work, school and after school activities, Stephanie Farha, her husband and their three kids are always on the go.

"By the time we get home, sometimes it's 9:30 at night," Stephanie said.

When most of us begin to wind down for the night, Stephanie's body keeps on going.

"Just thinking of everything that has to be done the next day," said Stephanie. "If I don't fall asleep immediately, then I don't go to sleep at all. I'll stay up all night."

Stephanie says she sleeps four to five hours a night, and it's catching up to her.

"I think my ulcer has started to act up a little bit more, because I'm tired and worn out and make bad food choices," Stephanie said.

Integris Sleep Center of Oklahoma Medical Director Dr. Jonathan Schwartz said not giving our bodies enough rest can lead to a series of health problems:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Weight Gain
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Unlike those conditions, sleep deprivation can have a more immediate impact.

"We can feel if our blood pressure is elevated," said Dr. Schwartz. "If our cholesterol is elevated, if you're tired all the time, you do feel that."

Dr. Schwartz said phones, laptops, television and even reading over stimulates our brains and don't belong in the bedroom. Instead, he said spending two hours before bedtime doing something relaxing is the key to a peaceful night's sleep.

"If you can't sleep and then your sleep is improved, it's a life changer," Dr. Schwartz said.

Stephanie is ready for that change.

"I wouldn't care if they told me I had to take this medication forever, or I have to do this medication," said Stephanie. "I wouldn't care as long as I could sleep seven or eight hours a night consecutively."

Dr. Schwartz says one major factor keeping us from having a good night's sleep: medication. So if you think your medicine is affecting your sleep, talk to your doctor. If other things are keeping you up, you might need to see a sleep specialist.

Changing our sleep habits

Dr. Schwartz says the most important thing we can do is wake up at the same time everyday, even on weekends. He also suggests if we can't sleep, don't lay there. Give ourselves about 20 minutes, get out of bed and go to another room until we feel sleepy.

He suggests reading under dim light. Bright lights, television or electronics stimulate our brains and make it harder to fall asleep.

Take the Sleep Quiz to see if you have symptoms associated with sleeping disorders.

Dr. Schwartz recommends Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia.