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Trade Your Botox For A Good Night's Sleep
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 million Americans, more than half of them women, have problems getting a good night's sleep. Two-thirds of them, about 40 million people, have chronic, or long-lasting, insomnia.
Given that anti-aging products, routines and procedures are increasingly popular with the same population, it's surprising that there has been little notice paid to the aging effects of chronic insomnia.
Feeling tired may not be the only consequence of not getting enough sleep. Long-term insomnia and sleep deprivation have been strongly linked to changes in the body that are similar to those observed in the aging body. Symptoms of high blood pressure and diabetes, health issues that can have catastrophic consequences and that often plague the elderly, have been observed even in young volunteers who were deprived of sleep. In one study several young, healthy men were restricted to only four hours of sleep on six consecutive nights. At the end of the test these cranky, sleep deprived young men displayed exactly the same endocrine and metabolic changes that are common in the elderly.
Sleep researchers have demonstrated that while we sleep our bodies produce hormones that are important for maintaining energy, memory, concentration and a stable mood throughout the day. In several studies sleep deprived volunteers showed significant losses in all these areas.
Experts believe that most adults need at least eight hours of sleep every night to be well rested. As a nation we're not getting anywhere close to this amount of sleep, with many people reporting that they feel lucky to get 5 to 6 hours a night.
While we hear that the older we get the less sleep we need, this isn't true for most. Certainly we need less sleep than babies, who spend more time sleeping than they do awake when they are very young. However, as we age there are a number of changes occurring that may make it more difficult to get a good night's sleep.
Arthritis can make it hard to get comfortable. We may need to use the bathroom more often, and getting back to sleep can be difficult. Chronic allergies and breathing problems can wreak havoc with our sleep. Some medications can cause sleep disturbances. A spouse who snores doesn't help.
While they are certainly have their place, no amount of Botox, vitamins, nutritional supplements, weight and exercise regimes, or surgical interventions will make up for the stress that chronic insomnia places on the body. Insomnia and the quality of a patient's sleep is something that should be routinely assessed at every doctor visit. "There's a need to look at sleep on the same level of importance as diet and exercise," says Carl Hunt, M.D., director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, part of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "All three are equally important for good health."
While tossing and turning for a few nights because of illness, pain or simply a period of stress is neither unusual nor a real cause for concern, chronic insomnia that lasts for longer than a few weeks deserves professional attention, says Tom Roth, Ph.D., head of the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. If you're unsure about whether you have chronic insomnia, Roth suggests looking at it like a headache: "If it goes on day after day and nothing you do makes it go away, then you should see a doctor," he says.
If you are having problems with insomnia that last more than a week or two, keep a journal while you wait for that appointment with your doctor. Note your activities and what you had to eat and drink in the hours between dinner and when you went to bed, the time you went to bed, and the time you got up each morning. If you napped during the day make a note of when and for how long. Simply keeping your "insomnia journal" may give you clues about things you might change in your routine.
Eliminating or reducing any sleep problems you may have will go a lot further toward preserving your health and your youthful good looks than any "procedure" you might be contemplating.
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