Health First Sleep Expert Offers Details on How Sleep is Crucial to Overall Wellness

Too Stressed to Sleep? Here’s Some Tips on How to Get Some Shuteye

A good night’s sleep? It’s something a lot of us are missing right now. Navigating a public health crisis leaves plenty of us wondering and worried. “Is my job secure?” “Can I pay my mortgage?” “Will I get COVID-19 and get sick – or worse?”

Health First sleep expert offers details on how sleep is crucial to our overall wellness – and how to shake up your routine to ensure you’re regularly rested

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – A good night’s sleep? It’s something a lot of us are missing right now. Navigating a public health crisis leaves plenty of us wondering and worried. “Is my job secure?” “Can I pay my mortgage?” “Will I get COVID-19 and get sick – or worse?”

We know. Staying calm and sleeping soundly doesn’t seem too attainable. But it’s important to get regular, good rest, especially now – for both your mental and physical wellness.

“The pandemic has ultimately created an environment of stress and fear,” said Dr. Prakash Reddy, MD, Medical Director at the Health First Sleep Centers.

“Stress can have detrimental impacts, affecting hormonal levels as well as organ systems.”

First, the basics.

“Think of sleep as a restart program, where a good night’s sleep is to wake up refreshed,” said Dr. Reddy, a Health First Medical Group provider who specializes in Sleep Medicine and Pulmonary Disease.

“Sleep is a semi-conscious state that creates an environment of repair and restoration. Sleep is a necessity for maintaining the integrity of your health and well-being.”

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Not getting enough rest can be a root cause of diseases, such as neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes. Not only does a lack of sleep have physical consequences but mental effects.

Being sleep-deprived can cause us to be irritable, unfocused, moody and unmotivated. We need a good night’s sleep to rest and re-energize our complex biological machinery.

Research has been consistent in emphasizing the holistic benefits of a restful seven to eight hours of sleep. In addition to a surplus of biological benefits, a good night’s sleep will keep you feeling energized, content and mentally prepared to face the events of a new day.

“Sleep also helps boost your immune system, helping it defend against harmful invaders,” Dr. Reddy explained.

“Without sleep, your body becomes weaker in its defense, and it becomes more susceptible to illness, which is something we definitely want to avoid during the current pandemic. Sleep deprivation can alter our immune system, which can have pretty bad consequences.”

But it’s not easy to shut off our minds and snooze. Stress keeps people awake, putting the nervous system in a constant “flight-or-fight” mode and stirring up tension. These unbalanced hormones can affect sleep patterns and can cause us to have trouble initiating or maintaining sleep.

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Dr. Reddy stresses that adequate sleep is just as important a tool as wearing a mask, hand-washing and maintaining social distancing during this pandemic. It all starts with committing to a regular sleep schedule.

“Start a routine that works for you and allows your mind to unwind and relax at the end of the day,” Dr. Reddy said.

“Sleep deprivation will only amplify a stressful state of being, so you must make the effort to ensure you are receiving the amount of quality sleep you need. Even if your mind is restless, your body is exhausted and needs the rejuvenating power of a good night’s sleep.”

You can start by telling yourself that sleep is more important than your worries of the day, Dr. Reddy said, who suggests the following Stress Level Elimination Exercise Plan (SLEEP) during COVID-19:

■ Structure: Sleep time and wake-up time should not change because you are working from home. The alarm clock should be set for the same time as it was prior to the pandemic.
■ Light: Limit blue light exposure from smartphones or iPads before bedtime.
Emotion: Avoid excessive exposure to social media before bedtime, as this will only amplify the stress level and further sleep deprivation.
■ Exercise: Take part in some form of aerobic exercise earlier in the day rather than late in the day.
Patience: We must adapt and be patient – and remember we will get through this pandemic together.

If you are concerned you need even more help with sleep difficulties, the teams at our Health First Sleep Centers are here to assist.

Visit HF.org/sleep to schedule a sleep study, take a sleep quiz or contact us for more information on getting a better night’s rest.

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