A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that not getting enough sleep can have a serious impact on our health. That same report suggests that lack of sleep now constitutes “a public health epidemic.”
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The CDC says that sleep deprivation can be tied to a number of serious health problems, including obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, and even heart attack and stroke. Because sleep deprivation shortens our attention span and reduces alertness, it can also lead to car crashes, industrial accidents, and other occupational hazards.
With that in mind, it’s very concerning that CDC data show that almost one in three American adults (28 per cent) say they’re sleeping less than six hours each night. CDC officials say that’s simply not enough, and insist that most adults should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.
So, why is getting enough sleep so important?
Health experts like Timothy Morgenthaler, a consultant with the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, says that sleep brings about a number of critical physiological changes.
“One of the main hypotheses is that one primary function of sleep is to help eliminate metabolic waste products of the mental processes in your brain,” Morgenthaler says. “Sleep clears those waste products out and replenishes the energy inside brain cells.”
Given these findings, Morgenthaler says that “when we don’t get enough sleep, we actually injure brain cells.”
That’s why Michael Twery, Director of the National Centers for Sleep Disorders Research, says it’s important people with trouble sleeping consult a physician sooner than later. In fact, Twery suggests that people should treat feeling sleepy during the day like any other concerning health sign and talk to their doctor about the issue.