Is insufficient sleep a public health epdiemic? - DatelineCarolina

Is insufficient sleep a public health epdiemic?

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24-year old Barron Wells is staying at a sleep lab to figure out why he struggles sleeping. 24-year old Barron Wells is staying at a sleep lab to figure out why he struggles sleeping.
Michelle Silvey is the manager of the sleep lab at Lexington Sleep Solutions. Michelle Silvey is the manager of the sleep lab at Lexington Sleep Solutions.

By: Sarah Ames 

It's something all college students feel a lot: constantly being tired.  Chances are you're sleep deprived. 

Sleep deprivation is becoming such a problem that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now call insufficient sleep a public health epidemic.  A new study by the Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health named the problem "The Great Sleep Recession."

But what if sleepless nights lead to being overly tired during the day? That's how most nights and days go for 24-year old Barron Wells, who struggles staying asleep in the night.

"I wake up two, three sometimes four times in the night. And I might be up for five minutes or I could be up for an hour," Wells said.

Friends noticed he was sluggish during the day and unmotivated to do anything at night.

"People at work would joke and say I have narcolepsy," Wells said.

Wells safety and his job rely on him being alert and awake through the day.  He works on power lines and drives a 50,000 pound bucket truck every day for an electric company.

"Sleep is important for my job because...there could be tragic accidents, and that would be bad," Wells said.

Wells finally had enough of being tired of morning struggling to get out of be and his daily activities suffering.  That's why he's sleeping at a sleep lab to figure out what's wrong.

Lexington Sleep Solutions is one of several sleep labs around the Midlands where patients are welcome to spend the night in a bed.  You go to bed in what looks like a hotel room, but you're hooked up to a machine that monitors your heart, breathing and sleep patterns.  You're also recorded on a camera and all the data is analyzed to find out what's keeping you from acheiving a good night's sleep.

Some people may be struggling with their sleep and not even know it.  Michelle Silvey thinks the younger generation is the most stressed-out, busy, and technology crazed generation out there today, which is having an effect on their sleep and health.

"They're in denial.  They don't want to accept the fact that they may have a problem," Silvey said.

Silvey is a registered polysomnographic technologist and she manages the sleep lab at Lexington sleep solutions.  She says prioritizing your sleep and setting time to sleep is most important.

"It's a mandatory thing our body has to have. And people don't realize we do not allow ourselves enough time to sleep," Silvey said.

Silvey offered a couple tips for better sleep hygiene.  First allow an hour at least of un-winding or "parking" time as she calls it to "park" or un-wind from your daily thoughts and activities.  Do not use cellphones or laptops an hour before bed, and turn off your cellphone while sleeping.  She also recommends maintaining a proper diet that minimizes alcohol, caffeine, and sugar before bed.

Silvey agrees insufficient sleep really is a public health epidemic?

"Society today is forgiving of people not sleeping, it's encouraging people to not sleep," Silvey said.

Wells says with the help of experts and with medication, he's now doing much better. His medicine gives him the energy to stay alert during the day, which makes him able to sleep better at night.

"It has helped tremendously," Wells said.

Silvey says if you feel like you're struggling, keep a sleep diary of your patterns at night.  If problems persist see your doctor about getting referred to a sleep lab for a sleep study.

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