Insomniac's Generation-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Insomniac's Generation

Student SleepingThough sleepless nights might be what pop songwriters dream of…or not, sleep deprivation is not desirable for the average human.  Recently the CDC published an article deeming insufficient sleep to be hazardous to both your health and safety.  Adults who do not get their recommended 8 hours are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses—hypertension, diabetes, depression, etc. — as well as reduced quality of life and productivity.  Studies also link a lack of sleep to motor vehicle accidents, industrial injuries, and other occupational errors. 

So what is the causative agent of our insomnia?  While a sleep deficit might be caused by environmental and social factors—such as continuously staring into your computer screen or working odd hours—sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome (RLS) and sleep apnea, could also be to blame for your late-night wakefulness.  50 to 70 million US adults are believed to have a type of sleep disorder. 
 
To help you develop good sleeping habits, here are some basic “sleep hygiene” tips from the National Sleep Foundation:
•    Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
•    Limit the amount of light and activity you are exposed to before bed.
•    Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.
•    Exercise daily and eat a well-balanced diet.

Most of these “tricks” work to regulate your body’s internal clock, and may be sufficient for reducing or eliminating sleep deprivation induced insomnia.  However, if you believe your sleeplessness could be due to a sleep disorder, contact your physician to seek proper treatment and care.

By: Angela Reid, angelar@andrew.cmu.edu, 412-268-7502