How Sleep Deprivation Can Affect Your Health
This is KPBS Midday Edition I Maureen Cavanaugh. The topic of sleep and how Americans are not getting enough, is showing up in banner headlines. Recently National Geographic Newsweek and the Washington Post all focused on the perils of sleep deprivation. It turns out that adequate sleep does more than just make you feel right and chipper in the morning, researchers say you can keep you physically healthy, event accidents, optimize your brain functions, and help maintain relationships. Joining me to talk more about the need for sleep are my guess Dr. Atul Malhotra he is director of the sleep center at UC San Diego health system. System Dr. Malhotra thank you for coming in. Thank you for having me. David peters is marriage and family therapist work Dr. Malhotra what are the kinds of medical problems people can develop when they do not get enough sleep? The two most commonly see are related to excessive daytime sleepiness and that's often related to people not sleeping enough for having very fragmented sleep. Or people that cannot sleep enough that is they have insomnia. Difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep. By far and away in the sleep clinics, most common diseases we see Aaron insomnia and sleep apnea were people stop reading when their sleep. That can lead to a variety of different ailments, or at least it can promote a variety of different ailments. I was reading from diabetes to cancer is that correct? That is correct. Sleep apnea has consequences. When we stop reading various consequences. We have to wake up from sleep in order to start reading again and so the sleep gets fragmented. That can affect brain function. We stopped breathing your oxygen levels can fall as well, and those low oxygen levels can take a toll in your heart and other organ systems as well. The risk of diabetes and cancer are something that is more recently been reported that there are some basic sciences with epidemiology that support that finding. Routinely common people go into their healthcare professional, and they report that they may be having some problems, that maybe they have cardiovascular problems or they have some other physical harassment. Do doctors routinely think about sleep deprivation. When they are diagnosing these conditions. I think it depends on the Dr. call that many of us when we are in medical school did not learn anything until sleep during medical residency for that matter in many patients are not aware of it either. The rest is interested in this because it's very new on the scene in terms of the area of interest. Traditionally, neither patient was asking about it now the doctor was asking about it and many of these conditions went undiagnosed and untreated. No David Peters you see that effects of sleep deprivation in your canonical practice. It manifests itself in a number of ways including behavior at school for adolescents. Yes. What's amazing is that we have an enormous number of adolescents and children being treated with medications for attention deficit disorder or depression trying to control their unruly behavior, and the real problem is they are not getting appropriate sleep. They are getting misdiagnosed cod given a psychotropic medication or other medication which is not going to help, and the problem continues and the child's low self-esteem undermines their whole future the family blames them pick the school is angry at the family. The big problem is often young people not getting enough sleep with adolescents and children getting sick than seven hours of sleep at night when they need between eight and nine. Even 9 1/2 is commonly necessary. It is lack of sleep that causes a lot of young people to have impulse control disorders. Its lack of sleep that can cause someone to look like they're depressed. Or to look like they are unable to focus. And Dr. Malhotra. Why do people seek help for their sleep problems? Is it mainly because they cannot fall asleep or they cannot stay asleep. There is a variety of different presenting complaints. Sometimes it's the physician recognizing an abnormality like the blood pressure is higher the cardiologist sees a funny pattern on the recording. Or sometimes patients just coming off the street and snoring can be a big issue worth disrupting the bed partner, or as you point out either difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can be major issues. And David Peters just that adolescents sometimes the more than nine hours of sleep, how much sleep doesn't I don't need? The usual recommendation is between seven and eight hours in acquiring four hour period, but it does vary somewhat. There are people that do well with lesser do well with more. In general 728 hours is the rule, there are some exceptions. It's been noted that the amount of time that Americans are spending asleep has gotten less and less as we go on. Now I think it's the average is about six hours, that is not very good is it? That's correct. With a 24 seven society there is stuff you can do a three in the morning that you did not use to be able to do. More and more people are drinking caffeine and coffee and staying awake. They're staying awake long hours and they are taking a toll on themselves. And David how to sleep deprivation effect relationships. It can be a dramatic impact on relationships. Let me give you a quick example. I saw a couple that came in and said their marriage was near finished, this was their last resort, they had previous couples counseling. The husband had had individual psychotherapy, he had been on antidepressants, wife said he's no fun to be with, he's always irritable and he picks on my son. I cannot do this anymore what is - - what will we do next? After really assessing him and listening carefully to how he experienced life I realize he seemed to be tired. I asked him about his sleep. He described being unable to sleep. I asked him in great detail what it was like I asked her what he was like when he was trying to sleep. It turns out he was suffering from restless leg syndrome. Or myoclonic. I told him wait a minute before we end the marriage, go to your doctor, tell them you have restless leg syndrome, he will prescribe a medication for this because it is treatable. They came back two weeks later and they said we are done, this is fantastic. I've got my husband back. He said I just feel like I'm alive now. Just by getting enough sleep. They had spent years in this report she was going to divorce him. He had been on second tropic medications. None of it was necessary. He needed to sleep. What about Dr. sleep medications, are they healthy alternative to get enough sleep? Depends why they're being taken. If someone has difficulty sleeping, the first thing I look for his underlying causes. Restless leg syndrome as was mentioned can be a cause of keeping people awake and other sleep disorders can make it hard for people to either fall asleep or stay asleep. And people that have an etiquette suite - - sleep we also look at issues around sleep hygiene. Sometimes alcohol tobacco or caffeine can disrupt it. Once we have addressed all of the issues there's a subset who would do well with sleep medications but that is an individualized decision based on characteristics of that patient after other underlying causes have been excluded. With all this information coming out about how widespread a problem this is, David Peters do you think that this is more than just somebody trying to turn off the computer and not having that extra cup of coffee. Is this something that needs to be addressed more systemically? I think there is a wide range of changes we all have to make. We have to make changes in the school system kind terms of how early we require kids to get up in the morning. We have to make changes that work for expectations. In terms of who was driving the truck with lack of sleep. We have to make changes societywide to accommodate the fact that we humans need sleep. In order to maintain our brain functioning. Dr. do you see signs that this issue is being taken more seriously? It is. We are working on a document right now to help inform healthy people 20/20 which is a statement the federal government will have to help inform sleep. We think a three pillars of helping diet exercise and sleep we put sleep on par with those other issues. That's interesting. I don't I've heard that before. But he sleep on par with diet and exercise to maintain health. That's interesting. I really do have to stop right now, we have some tips that may help you get a better night sleep on our website@KPBS.org. I have been speaking with Dr. a tool my whole truck he is director of the health center at UC San Diego or health system and David Peters family therapist with the practice in Mission Valley. Thank you both very much. Your been listening to KBS midday edition.
The topic of sleep and how Americans are not getting enough is showing up in banner headlines.
It turns out that adequate sleep does more than just make you feel bright and chipper in the morning. Researchers said it can keep you physically healthy, prevent accidents, optimize your brain functions and help maintain relationships.
Atul Malhotra, the director of sleep medicine at UC San Diego Health System, said insomnia and sleep apnea have become common diseases.
"Sleep apnea has a variety of consequences," Malhorta told KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday. "When we stop breathing, we have to wake up from sleep in order to start breathing again. So the sleep gets quite fragmented and that can certainly affect brain function."
Young people are also facing problems that derive from the lack of sleep, said family therapist David Peters.
"What's amazing is we have an enormous number of adolescents and children treated for attention deficit disorder or depression but the real problem is they're not getting appropriate sleep," Peters said. "They are getting misdiagnosed and the problem continues."
Peters said young people are sleeping about six to seven hours a day when they really need about eight to nine-and-a-half.
For tips on helping you get a better night's sleep check out these suggestions from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.