Honolulu (KHON2) – The number of people who are experiencing insomnia has been on the rise during the pandemic. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association revealed that two out of three Americans have been experiencing dysregulated sleep during this time.
What can you do if you’re not getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night? Manakai O Malama Integrative Health Care Group/Niolopua Sleep Center Clinical Health Psychologist, Dr. Julie Takishima-Lacasa weighed in on the effects of sleep deprivation and how to address it.
“Sleep is the swiss army knife of health” according to sleep researcher Dr. Matthew Walker. “There is not one known measure of health (and mental health) that is not impacted by sleep. Quite literally, the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. So many important functions occur during sleep.
According to Dr. Takishima-Lacasa, after only 20 hours of sleep deprivation you are as impaired as when legally drunk due to prefrontal cortex impairments. Chronic sleep problems cause dysregulation of our nervous system and hormones (basically like accelerated hormonal aging) resulting in elevated proinflammatory levels (like cortisol); increased anxiety, stress, and experience of pain; immune system deficiency; and impaired regulation of glucose/insulin, grelin/leptin (or hunger/satiety signals), cravings, and our gut microbiome that can result in weight gain and related diseases. Poor sleep is also associated with social withdrawal and loneliness, which increases your mortality risk by approximately 45% (which is twice as much as obesity). Chronic sleep deprivation predicts Alzheimer’s (through interaction with genetic risk) and is so strongly associated with increased risk of certain cancers that World Health Organization has designated any form of night shift work as a “known carcinogen.”
The most common sleep problems are obstructive airway issues, or sleep apnea and snoring and insomnia, either taking more than half an hour to fall asleep or waking frequently during the night and having trouble going back to sleep.
Some sleep tips:
Keep consistent sleep schedule
Engage in stress management activities
Get out of bed if you don’t don’t asleep around 20 minutes
Keep environment cool
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Try apps like Insomnia Coach
Niolopua Sleep Center at Manakai O Mālama has been conducting home and in-lab sleep studies throughout the CV19 pandemic, and you can reach out for help. Website: https://www.manakaiomalama.com/
There are specialists who teach effective behavioral sleep therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, who can coach you through proven interventions such as stimulus control and time-in-bed restriction.
Viewers can search local providers of behavioral insomnia treatment or other mental health services, such as help managing anxiety and stress, using a free online service provided by the Hawai`i Psychological Association called “Find A Therapist.”