The human health has been observed to be deteriorating as technology keeps on progressing. Not only do we face more complex and drug-resistant strains of diseases these days but our modern lifestyle makes it even doubly hard for us to stay healthy and fit. As a result, it significantly affects the quality of our lives and how long we eventually live later in life. Think of the food you eat. How do you think it impacts your health? Then, there is another major aspect of our life that we compromise – our sleep. We lose more sleep now as tech distractions are everywhere and we can barely sleep a wink each night with our various tech and social media preoccupations.
There are likewise medical issues that affect sleep that we have little control over. For example, sleep apnea is a common yet often ignored health condition that affects millions of Americans today. It’s as if the loud, annoying snoring sounds aren’t enough for us to deal with but there is the issue of it affecting our overall health over time if you don’t get yourself checked by a medical professional ASAP. You lose a lot from sleep apnea not just the hours you lose that you should be sleeping but more so your health.
The number of people with obstructive sleep apnea has steadily increased over the past two decades. The disorder, which causes a person to briefly stop breathing when asleep, affects over 100 million people globally and is estimated to be undiagnosed 80-90% of the time. Obesity and advanced age, which have been reported as risk factors, are also on the rise. Scientists are concerned because sleep apnea may diminish healthspan by aggravating several cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers in Portugal explore this suspected relationship in an Opinion article published July 27 in Trends in Molecular Medicine.
Sleep is meant to restore you. There are various restorative processes that only occur in your sleep. Do you remember how good you feel after an eight-hour sleep at night? It does not feel the same way when you sleep in the day. Unfortunately, a lot of things have changed and people can choose whether they want to be a day or night person. And the problem with sleep apnea remains to be a problem too regardless of the time of day you choose to sleep. There have been plenty of medical discoveries and innovations but a big chunk of the population still suffers from it. Sleep deprivation puts you at higher risk of various chronic and debilitating (and possibly deadly) health conditions as if we don’t know that yet by now.
“Nearly every disease killing us in later life has a causal link to lack of sleep,” said the article’s senior author, Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience. “We’ve done a good job of extending life span, but a poor job of extending our health span. We now see sleep, and improving sleep, as a new pathway for helping remedy that.”
Unlike more cosmetic markers of aging, such as wrinkles and gray hair, sleep deterioration has been linked to such conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and stroke, he said.
Though older people are less likely than younger cohorts to notice and/or report mental fogginess and other symptoms of sleep deprivation, numerous brain studies reveal how poor sleep leaves them cognitively worse off.
Moreover, the shift from deep, consolidated sleep in youth to fitful, dissatisfying sleep can start as early as one’s 30s, paving the way for sleep-related cognitive and physical ailments in middle age.
And, while the pharmaceutical industry is raking in billions by catering to insomniacs, Walker warns that the pills designed to help us doze off are a poor substitute for the natural sleep cycles that the brain needs in order to function well.
Don’t simply ignore snoring as it often indicates a deeper problem like sleep apnea. Both sleep quantity and quality are important to age gracefully and live healthily for a long time, something we all miss out on when we keep on pulling all-nighters because of our own snoring or perhaps of a snoring partner (much to our misfortune). Fortunately, you don’t always have to suffer from sleep apnea or compromise your health and life in the process because the market is full of remedies and tools that are meant to reduce the snoring and address the breathing difficulties associated with sleep apnea without you overspending or going under the knife.