Sleep tight! (your health depends on it)

Healthy Sleeping

Want to lower your risk for diabetes, obesity, heart disease and depression – without leaving your house? Then go to bed! An often-ignored factor in improving our health is getting a good night’s sleep.

We may view a solid 8 hours as a luxury, but it is actually an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Just like we need exercise and a well-balanced diet, our bodies need proper sleep to function well and fend off illnesses.

The effects of a bad night’s sleep

You may be surprised at the far-reaching effects of poor sleep.

  • Physical health: Not getting enough sleep can put you at greater risk for developing diabetes and obesity, says Alon Avidan, MD, UCLA neurologist and sleep specialist at the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center.
  • Psychological health: Sleeplessness can lead to depression. Researchers believe that this is because sleep problems increase inflammation in the body, which is linked to mood disorders. Treating a sleep problem could prevent depression from recurring. In fact, if we can identify a person’s sleep problems early on, we may even prevent depression from developing in the first place.
  • Heart disease, arthritis and autoimmune disorders: Our bad sleep habits can lead to an onslaught of health problems. The busy schedules we keep are keeping us up well into the night. When we don’t get the hours of sleep we need, health problems like heart disease, arthritis and autoimmune disorders have a higher chance of developing.

UCLA: We know sleep

The UCLA Sleep Disorders Center is at the forefront of answering complex sleep questions and helping people get the rest they need. The center has two functions:

  • By day, it is an outpatient and research facility. Researchers study the biology of sleep and treat patients with a wide variety of sleep problems, including:
  • By night, the center becomes a sleep laboratory. Patients with the most difficult sleep problems come to the center to sleep under observation. Through digital recording devices, our sleep experts obtain information about the person’s sleep. Then, the patient receives an accurate diagnosis and can start on the path to treatment.

The center’s research has led to interesting findings, such as the effectiveness of prescription sleeping aids in helping older adults avoid falls. While physicians had thought for years that the sleeping aids would lead to more falls, it turns out that getting a good night’s sleep actually reduces the risk.

Don’t live with poor sleep

Sleep disorders are just as big a health problem as diabetes or heart disease. But answers and treatments are available. Visit the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center to find out more about our services.

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