LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It's Sleep Awareness Week, which comes after the switch to daylight saving time every year. The goal is to highlight the importance of sleep and how it can impact your physical and mental health. However, not many people make sleep a priority.
A 2020 poll done by The National Sleep Foundation found that on average, Americans feel sleepy three days a week with many saying it impacts their daily activities, mood, and productivity. Adults who feel sleepy five to seven days a week report high rates of irritability, headaches, and feeling unwell.
Dr. John White, the medical director of Baptist Health Lexington's Sleep Center, says over time, a lack of sleep can lead to serious health conditions.
"High blood pressure can be associated with it,” said Dr. White. “An increased risk of heart disease. It can be associated with decreased immunity and increased colds. There can be increased obesity."
The National Sleep Foundation's study also found that when people feel sleepy, it's generally because they're not sleeping well, rather than not having enough time to sleep.
Researchers asked how people deal with sleepiness. Sixty-two percent said they just try to shake it off. About a third of people said they get fresh air, drink coffee or another caffeinated beverage, or take a nap. Those aren't replacements for rest, though.
"If you could have one drug that could help you with memory, help you with your immune system, help your cardiovascular status and it was essentially free, you'd want to do that, wouldn't you? You'd want to take that medicine. It's available to you. You just have to make it a priority,” said Dr. White.
If you want to start sleeping better, some tips include making and sticking to a bedtime schedule, exercising in the evening, and putting electronics to sleep an hour before you go to bed.
You can learn more about the poll on The National Sleep Foundation’s website.