To sleep, perchance to dream
Enough quality sleep helps the brain clear out its trash, triggers hormonal shifts that restore energy and revive weary muscles and organ systems. It even bolsters your cardiovascular and immune systems and helps regulate metabolism, including glucose levels.
Unfortunately, we’re a nation of sleep-challenged people, contending with insomnia, short sleep duration and sleep apnea.
■ Adults getting less than seven hours nightly vary from Colorado’s 29.3% — the lowest number in the nation — to West Virginia’s 42.8%, the highest.
■ Short-term insomnia affects almost 10% of U.S. adults and 20% of those folks develop nightly insomnia.
■ Around 26% of adults age 30-70 have sleep apnea.
That may explain why in 2020, 18.4% of adults that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed said they took sleep medication in the last 30 days either every day (6.3%), most days (2.1%) or some days (10%) to help them fall or stay asleep.
That might seem OK — sleep is important. But a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that white participants who “often” or “almost always” took sleep medications had a 79% higher chance of developing dementia compared to those who “never” or “rarely” used them. Black study participants were much less likely to take sleep meds and showed no difference in dementia frequency between abstainers and “takers.” So, for white folks — and perhaps some Black folks — it’s clearly a major risk. It’s much smarter to sleep better by getting daily aerobic exercise, eating a plant-based diet, drinking alcohol sparingly, and cultivating happiness and managing stress with a posse and a sense of purpose.
Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is “The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow.” Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email questions@GreatAgeReboot.com.