How sleep depravation is affecting your health - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

How sleep depravation is affecting your health

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Some experts call it a national epidemic; too many of us are sleep deprived.

They say it could be at the root of some of your major health problems. We show you what you can do to sleep better tonight and how to turn things around if your "sleep debt" is way out of control.

Holly Brantley was there as Teresa Hersey made her second trip to the sleep center at Saint Francis Medical Center. She said she had to find a solution after years of sleepless nights left her mentally and physically exhausted.

"I sleep a lot through the day," Hersey said.

Sleep techs like Carol Ann Cagle monitor patients' sleep all night long. In Hersey's case, they discovered sleep apnea was the problem. A potentially serious condition where people stop breathing on and off during the night, sometimes hundreds of times.

"The purpose of sleep is for the body and mind to restore itself," Cagle said.

According to Cagle, Hersey is among 30 percent of people suffering from sleep debt, just not getting the recommended seven to nine hours.

No matter the cause, over time it can lead to major health problems: high blood pressure, stroke, heart issues, diabetes, depression and weight problems.

Cagle said long naps are actually discouraged because that interferes with your sleep pattern. Instead, take a power nap and try to get back on track.

She said there are things you can do right now to try and get more zzzz's. The newest recommendation: turn off your cell phone, the TV, anything with flickering lights that stimulates the brain and the body.

Cagle said studies show tried and true methods that you turn into new habits can be successful, such as hot tea, warm baths, meditation and white noise like a fan. She said magnesium and the smell of lavender can also help.

According to Cagle, most patients just need a plan to change their behavior and schedule.

"The body really thrives on the same bed time every night," Cagle said.

But like Hersey, if you find yourself with a serious issue, Cagle said the best thing you can do is get help sooner than later to reverse the effects, get a better night sleep and look forward to a better life.

Treatment for serious sleep conditions depends on other health issues that can stem from that problem.

It's important to note also that some recent studies show an increasing number of people are actually getting too much sleep which would be more than nine hours.

For more information, you can check out some of the links below:

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