Fragmented Sleep and Its Effect on Health

As the wife of a career fire captain who is retiring in six months after 33 years of service, the article, The Trouble with Sleep: A hidden hazard to firefighters’ health, really resonated with me.  The health problems associated with fragmented sleep include not only problems with mental health, but an increased incidence of everything from diabetes to heart attack to stroke.  So are firefighters the only ones at risk due to their choppy sleep habits?  Unfortunately, firefighters, medical residents, and the like are not the only ones at risk these days.  Here’s why…

With today’s 24/7 “on” button, many of us are sleeping more lightly and experiencing disrupted or reduced sleep times on a regular basis.  Some of the culprits contributing to this ongoing problem are cell phones left on at night, lit tablet usage, TVs in the bedroom, and late nights/early mornings.  Many people are expected to be “on” for work well beyond work hours and sometimes all night.  Tablets are always around; TV is available 24/7.  Remember the days of TV stations going off the air with a flag and a patriotic song followed by static?  Those days are long gone and 24/7 TV is here to stay.  Remember 1982’s Poltergeist?  For “new Carol Anne” (now called “Madison”) to end up in the TV in 2015’s Poltergeist remake, she and the ghosts are going to have some tricky maneuvering to do.

So what can we do to promote better sleep habits and less fragmented sleep?  Some people (like firefighters) will have to work on improving their sleep on their off days.  The rest of us can try to do this on a regular basis.  Here are some tips for getting better quality sleep:

  • Turn the cell phones off at night or place them where they cannot be heard or felt at night.
  • Keep the TV off in the bedroom at night.
  • Do not use a lit tablet prior to going to bed.
  • Remove lit clocks, appliances, etc. from your bedroom or nighttime view.
  • The bed should only be used for sleep and sex.  Do not use the bed for doing work, etc.
  • Do not eat or exercise late at night.
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
  • Avoid excess use of alcohol and do not use alcohol to promote sleep (you may go to sleep but it will fragment your sleep later).
  • Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Keep pets and kids out of your bed.
  • Keep your nighttime room temperature cool.

These are just some of the things that can help improve your sleep and your health.  Another important item on this list is to have a comfortable mattress.  Research shows that traditional inner spring mattresses are the least comfortable of all the mattress.  We want you to be well-informed about your sleep comfort options.  To learn more about your mattress options, check out our Latex Mattress Buyer’s Guide, Memory Foam Buyer’s Guide, Adjustable Bed Buyer’s Guide, and our Air Bed Buyer’s Guide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *