LeJeune: Better sleep means a healthier life for you

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, May 10, 2017

May is Better Sleep Month! When we don’t get enough sleep we tend to be grouchy, foggy and not our best.

But lack of sleep has other side effects that can prove very serious and even fatal.

Disease Risk

Sufficient sleep is not a luxury, but rather essential for good health. It is estimated that about 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems.

Research shows that those who consistently fail to get enough sleep are at an increased risk for serious health problems.

Diabetes, stroke, heart disease, obesity and depression have all been linked to lack of sleep. It should be noted that insufficient sleep is associated with both the onset of serious health conditions in addition to the management and outcomes.


The effects of insufficient sleep can have short-term effects and be seen in the workplace and on the highway. A fatigued person has a decline in mental function and physical ability.

A recent study by Harvard Medical School found that insomnia is responsible for more than 250,000 workplace accidents each year. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 100,000 police-reported crashes each year are the direct result of driver fatigue resulting in an estimated 1,500 deaths.

Why So Sleepy?

Some of the more common sleep disorders include:

Insomnia: Inability to go to or stay asleep. Often results in excessive daytime sleepiness.

Narcolepsy: Sometimes described as “sleep attacks.” May occur in unusual circumstances such as walking.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): Often described as an unpleasant “creeping” sensation through the legs making it difficult to fall asleep.

Sleep Apnea: Snoring, snorting and gasping for air is more than just annoying and can be a sign of something more serious.

How Much Sleep?

Our sleep needs change as we age. Although there is no magic “sleep number,” the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends the following guidelines.

Newborns should receive 16 to 18 hours a day of sleep, while pre-school aged children should get 11 to 12 hours per day.

It is recommended school children receive at least 10 hours of sleep a day, while teens clock nine to 10 hours a day. Adults should get seven to eight hours.

Sleep Basics

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following:

Time: Go to bed and get up at the same time each day – including weekends.

Comfortable: Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and relaxing – neither too hot or cold.

Unplug: Use your bed only for sleeping and not for reading, watching television, etc.

Food: Avoid big meals before you go to bed.

Lack of sleep can have short term and long-term effects on your health and safety. Sufficient sleep is not a luxury, but is a necessity. If you or someone you know is not getting adequate rest, it is important to understand why.

For more information call the Sleep Disorders Center of Thibodaux Regional at 985-493-4759.

Tammy LeJeune is the chief sleep technologist with Thibodaux Regional. She can be reached at 985-493-4759.