Kentuckians are second most sleep-deprived in US

March 15, 2016

Kentuckians, already the second most sleep-deprived Americans, may be distressed to learn that losing an hour of sleep on Sunday, March 13 to Daylight Savings Time can be hazardous to your health. However, you can take steps to prepare for the time change.

Losing an hour of sleep this past Sunday, March 13 to Daylight Savings Time is not only inconvenient, but may be hazardous to your health.

A Finnish study shows that the rate of ischemic stroke is 8 percent higher during the first two days after a time change is made.

“The study emphasizes the importance of sleep disturbances as a risk factor for stroke,” said Daniel O. Lee, MD, a neurologist and board-certified sleep specialist at Baptist Health Richmond. “They also found that older age and cancer patients have the highest risk for stroke during this transition time, probably due to the fact that they are more prone to sleep difficulties.”

This news is particularly distressing to Kentuckians who are the second-most sleep deprived population in the United States, according to a recent CDC study.

This study analyzed data from the 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, finding that more than one-third of Americans sleep less than seven hours in a 24 hour period. For Kentuckians, that number rises to nearly 40 percent.

“Kentucky is a very sleep-deprived state which can impose a tremendous health burden in our society,” said Dr. Lee. “Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. It also increases the risk of obesity” and impairs the immune system.

Additionally, a lack of proper sleep increases the chance for making mistakes at work and while driving. "Sleep helps your brain work properly," said Dr. Lee. "When you are sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It is forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information."

If you have fallen into poor sleep habits, such as staying up to watch late-night TV shows or surfing the internet when you have to be at work by 7 a.m., getting back on track will take a little work.

According to Dr. Lee, "The best way to reset your sleep schedule is to maintain a regular wake and sleep pattern seven days a week." That means no sleeping in on your days off work -- and keeping a regular bedtime.

To increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep, Dr. Lee says to follow these guidelines:

• Avoid daytime naps

• Lay-off stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol close to bedtime. While alcohol can help you go to sleep, it tends to wake you up later.

• Exercise in the morning or late afternoon. Restful exercise, such as yoga, can be done before bed.

• Don’t eat before you go to bed. Remember, even chocolate has caffeine.

• Get a little sunshine in your life every day. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy wake-sleep schedule (And do not turn on a light when you get up to go to the bathroom. Instead install a nightlight to assist you in seeing at night.)

• Be calm. Put your problems and concerns to rest, so you can rest too.

• Use your bed for sleeping -- not as a desk, a place to watch TV, browse the Internet or read.

By following these guidelines it will be much easier to adjust to time changes and maintain regular, healthy sleep habits throughout the year.
The Baptist Health Richmond Sleep Disorders Center is the only sleep center in Madison County accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Supported by two board-certified sleep specialists – Muhammad Iqbal, MD, and Dr. Lee – the Sleep Center is also supported by certified polysomnographers and an on-site respiratory therapist. For more information, call 859.625.3334.