Dr. Mehul Patel of NOCHS Center for Sleep Disorder and Pulmonologist at North Ottawa Medical Group answers your questions about sleep health.
Why is sleep important?
Sleep plays an important role in maintaining good health throughout your life. Getting quality sleep is important to protect your mental health, physical health, safety, and also quality of your life. Good sleep is essential for decision making, problem solving, controlling emotions, and paying attention. Sleep deficiency can increase risk of heart disease, obesity, mental disorders, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, and hypertension. Sleep is also important to support healthy growth and maintaining healthy immune system.
How do I know if I’m getting enough sleep?
Everyone is different. Some people may function well with just five hours of sleep and others may need 10 hours or more. The key is, how do you feel. Do you need an alarm clock to wake up? Do you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Are you having trouble concentrating at work or at school? Are you feeling sleepy in meetings, in classrooms, or while driving? If the answers are YES for most of these questions, then you are probably not getting enough sleep.
What can I do if I have trouble sleeping?
Improving overall sleep hygiene can be a good start. Sleep hygiene includes having a regular sleep schedule with a same wake up time, disconnecting electronics 30 minutes prior to going to bed, avoiding late and long daytime naps, and limiting alcohol consumption. You should also avoid large meals, exercise, bright light and also tobacco use at night. Caffeine intake should be avoided eight hours prior to bedtime. However, improving sleep hygiene alone is not sufficient for some people. If you have poor quality of sleep despite improving sleep hygiene, you may need a comprehensive sleep evaluation by a sleep physician. You can schedule an appointment with our Center for Sleep Disorders by calling (616) 847-5342 or click here to learn more.