Here's the catch-22. You are told by health professionals, sleep experts, magazine and news articles, headlines in the news - that adequate sleep is vital to your health. You are one of those people, though, that has a chronic illness that poses discomfort or pain, and so you never quite get into a deep restorative sleep. Experts say that you have to have enough sleep hours in REM, the sleep stage that truly allows you to literally have body-rejuvination. So your lack of deep sleep actually makes your chronic health issue worse. This is something that so many people deal with and new studies confim that this slippery slope can be extremely detrimental to your health and to your performance.
The latest study at Johns Hopkins looked at a group of people with pulmonary fibrosis, a rather serious and debilitating chronic lung condition. These patients had twice the amount of night-time sleep disturbances as average healthy adults and double the number of daytime sleepiness episodes. The study's results convinced researchers to recommend that sleep assessment be a vital ongoing part of the treatment plan of patients like these because the impact of the REM deficit was so pronounced.
I guess the lesson we can learn is that if you are suffering from any health conditions, stress or other "deep sleep impediments" that remain ongoing - you should tackle the problem by proactively seeking help from a physician before the fatigue and its consequences occur. In the case of pulmonary fibrosis, more than 200,000 Americans suffer from this condition (cause is unknown) and it's clear that the fatigue from lack of deep sleep can actually hasten death. Doctors really need to make "sleep questions" part of the routine exam or patients need to volunteer information about sleep difficulties.
Does this ever come up when you see the doctor???
Published On: July 30, 2008