Why is sleep so important? - WSMV Channel 4

Why is sleep so important?

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Almost every day you can find a new study talking about the health problems that can come from a lack of sleep.

Pulmonologist and sleep specialist Dr. Brad Bittle said a deep sleep is restorative, and it's when a growth hormone is released.

Bittle said a lack of sleep can increase the risk of hypertension, a stroke, a heart attack, obesity and diabetes.

"I have a lot of trouble going to sleep," said Mona Petty.

"When I do finally, I guess I turn off, it seems like I sleep a couple hours and then I guess I think it's time to get up," said Bonnie Dennis.

Dennis and Petty are sisters and said they both put their head on the pillow but have a difficult time getting good sleep.

"I get maybe four, if I'm lucky, five hours of sleep," said Dennis.

"The way the hustle and bustle is in the world, there's no time for rest," said Petty.

"There's just too much stress in the world, you always have something to do," said Dennis.

"I have a hard time unwinding, going to sleep first, and then sometimes in the night I have to get up and I have a hard time going back to sleep," said Petty.

Both women said when they don't get good sleep, they feel it.

"I have to have about three or four cups of coffee before the mind clears up," said Dennis.

"I feel very worn out, droggy, I don't want to do anything," said Petty.

Bittle said it's not just the amount of sleep, but also the quality of sleep.

"Sleep is really important to good health," said Bittle."It relates to a lot of our body systems that we don't even really think about."

If you don't get good rest one night, some wonder if naps can help.

"I've tried naps, I have," said Dennis.

"One can't miss a seven or eight hour sleep period and expect to make it up by napping," said Bittle.

Bittle said it's normal to get sleepy in the afternoon and take a nap, but that can't replace a full night's sleep.

Petty and Dennis each have their own solutions to try to get the best night's sleep.

"Ocean sounds, it has like the Chinese music it has different instruments, and it does relax you," said Dennis.

"I take medication to go to sleep," said Petty.

Bittle suggested preparing for bedtime.

As it gets close to bedtime, Bittle said to relax, turn off the TV and computer, set the bedroom to the right temperature, reduce the noise in the house, and make sure the bed's comfortable.

"When it comes close to bedtime, to prepare for bedtime, to not stay wired or wound up right up until its time to go to bed, it's good to turn off the TV, it's good to not be looking at the computer it's good to have the bedroom the right temperature, make sure the bed's comfortable, make sure sound is low in the house as possible, so you can get good quality sleep," said Bittle.

To get your best sleep, he also suggested exercising but at the right time.

"If you're exercising regularly, you often tend to sleep better, however exercise really close to bedtime is often counterproductive," said Bittle.

"You can rest, but you've got to really focus and just let everything go," said Dennis.

If you feel like you need help sleeping, Bittle suggested seeing your primary care doctor first. Then, he or she might refer you to a sleep specialist if needed.

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