Not getting enough sleep at night could have deadly consequences

INDIANAPOLIS - Doctors say fewer and fewer people are getting enough sleep and it could affect your health in more ways than one.

As the demands of work, life, and leisure activities take front seat, doctors say making sleep last on the list could have deadly consequences.

Diane Caine visited the IU Health Sleep Disorder Center to have her sleep pattern measured. Caine described herself as busy, sleep-deprived mom who works long, overnight hours.

Caine said it was common for her to wake up and still be tired.

"I was a surgeon nurse. I was working on-call hours and additional hours during the day shift," she said.

Caine's life changed when the long hours caught up with her, causing her blood pressure to spike. 

"I ended up having a massive stroke at 35 years old," she said. 

The left side of her body is paralyzed from the stroke. The sleep study helped determine that she wasn't getting enough sleep and that sleep apnea was to blame.

"I would stop breathing off-and-on throughout the night during my sleep, which keeps you from getting rested sleep," Caine said.

Dr. Ninotchka Sigua at IU Health said that when it comes to overall health, sleep is just as important as an apple a day, especially for women.

According to research, women are at a higher risk for health problems than men.

"Individuals who are chronically sleep deprived are at a higher risk for obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Poor sugar control is also related to chronic sleep deprivation," Sigua said.

Depression and anxiety are also symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation. People with heart disease or high blood pressure pay an even higher price with their health when they sacrifice sleep.

"(Sleep deprived) patients perform poorly. There is poor functional status and overall increased risk for death for patients who are chronically sleep deprived," Sigua said.

How much sleep should the average person get a night? Researchers said about one-third of the population is sleep deprived.

Dr. Sigua said it's recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep, and teens need 8.5 hours.

"I think sleep is really under diagnosed. As individuals, we need to bring up our sleep issues with our doctors because for (Caine) at a very young age she had issues with high blood pressure, obesity and a stroke which left the left side of her body paralyzed," Sigua said.

Caine said she is getting more rest and at night she uses a special ventilator to help her get the eight-hours of sleep that she needs.

Dr. Sigua said it's a good idea to turn off all electronic devices before going to bed, including your cellphone, tablet and laptop.

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