Although the exact function of sleep is unknown, it is known that sleep is necessary for optimal cognitive performance, memory and learning and that sufficient sleep is necessary for metabolic, immune and cardiovascular functions.
New research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital has produced findings indicating how short- and long-term sleep loss combine with the body’s natural 24-hour internal clock (circadian) rhythm to affect how well an individual performs. Even minimal sleep loss can affect mental performance.
The researchers found that chronic sleep loss caused performance to deteriorate at a faster rate for each consecutive hour spent awake, particularly during work extended into late night hours. Individuals with chronic sleep loss have reaction times about 10 times slower with increased risk of errors and accidents.
“Chronic sleep loss renders tasks such as driving or performing surgery dangerous, especially during the hours ordinarily reserved for sleep,” says Dr. Charles Czeisler, study co-author.
Individuals can experience chronic sleep loss due to insomnia, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and other common sleep disorders.
Sleep disorder symptoms may include:
• Difficulty falling or staying asleep.
• Daytime fatigue.
• Inability to wake up and fall asleep at regular times.
• Falling asleep spontaneously.
Disturbed sleep patterns can also be caused by medication, stress, cardiovascular conditions, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances, neurological disorders, and sciatica.
AMC’s Community Clinic offers acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and massage for the treatment of sleep disorders as well as a wide range of health conditions. To schedule an appointment call (305) 595-9500. For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs ask for Joe Calareso, Admissions Director.