Monday, June 06, 2016


Health benefits of a good night’s sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep used to be a nice target to aim for, but until recently, no one really knew the true benefits of sleep. As college students, my friends and I would pride ourselves on “pulling an all-nighter” and still being able to “ace” our exams the next morning. Now we understand that adequate sleep really is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit our heart, weight, mind and more.

Experts now say that consistent sleep patterns can improve memory, curb inflammation and even help us when trying to lose weight.

Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Research indicates that people who get less sleep — six or fewer hours a night — have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more. In particular, C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night.

It’s not just adults who require adequate sleep. According to a 2010 study in the journal Sleep, children between the ages of 10 and 16 who have sleep disordered breathing, which includes snoring, sleep apnea, and other types of interrupted breathing during sleep, are more likely to have problems with attention and learning. This could lead to "significant functional impairment at school," the study authors wrote.

A 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics found that children ages 7 and 8 who got less than about eight hours of sleep a night were more likely to be hyperactive, inattentive and impulsive.

I asked my friend and colleague Dr. Setu Vora to expound on the health benefits of good sleep. He put it succinctly:

• Sleeping well, about 7-8 hours, at night, is great for our health.
• Sleep deprivation is linked with increased risk of errors and accidents.
• Good sound sleep helps the heart and brain.

Dr. Vora and Dr. Olimpia Radu, pulmonologists and sleep disorder experts, will be speaking on this important topic at Backus Hospital on June 22, from 6:30-8 p.m. At this free community education program, “Better Sleep for Better Health,” they will discuss sleep problems like snoring, sleep apnea, and give tips to get a better night’s sleep. Call (855) HHC-HERE or (855) 442-4373 to register or for more information.

Alice Facente is a community health education nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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