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Sleep is a vital part of the human body’s biological clock. Sleep not only allows individuals to reenergize and recover from daily physical and biological activities, it also serves several crucial functions such as protection of the immune system, memory consolidation, and psychological well-being. This refreshment of the biochemical systems in the body promotes efficiency, growth, metabolic restoration, and encoding of new information.
How much sleep one needs is usually based on age. Infants need the most at about 16 hours a day, followed by older children and teenagers at about 9 hours a day. Recent studies show that the optimum amount of sleep for the average adult is 7-8 hours a night. Sleeping more than 8 or less than 6 hours a night increases mortality rates by up to 15%.
Sleep deprivation has severe effects in individuals. Those affected by sleep related breathing disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness. Drowsy driving by these individuals is as dangerous as drunk driving and has been shown to increase the risk of deadly motor vehicle accidents by 15x. There is even current legislation recommending commercial drivers to be tested for sleep apnea.
In addition to car accidents, sleep deprivation reveals itself in other ways such as depression, memory problems, irritability, decreased libido, family discord, morning headaches, and decreased concentration. Sleepiness in today’s workplaces causes approximately $150 billion in lost job productivity and mistakes.
If the symptoms or risk factors of obstructive sleep apnea and sleep deprivation sound familiar to you, our office can facilitate testing and communication with a board certified sleep physician. If diagnosed, obstructive sleep apnea can easily be treated by the physician and dentist.