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Facing Down Our Sleep Deprivation Epidemic

Imagine you just woke up from sleeping for 25 years. Hopefully you’d feel well-rested, because you’d be anxious to get out of bed and see what you missed! In actuality, most of us spend one-third of our life asleep (roughly 25 years for most of us), and 8 years dreaming. Yet, for about 1 out of 4 of us who experience sleep problems, this huge chunk out of our lives is anything but invigorating.

Sleep: we don’t totally understand it, but we sure know we need it!
Sleep isn’t fully understood, but evidence indicates that this one-third of human existence is essential to our well-being and regulated by the nervous system. We may not know everything sleep does for us, but we for sure know what sleep deprivation does against us. Sleep disorders are linked with poor performance, cognitive dysfunction and secondary ill effects on almost every aspect of life, including health, cognitive and physical performance, as well as social coping. Additionally, poor sleep is related to increased cardiovascular morbidity, neuropsychological deficits and increased mortality, and according to a recent New York Times article by Benedict Carey, plays a significant role in depression. None of this sounds like much fun, does it?

The societal effects of this epidemic have yet to be calculated, but given the serious implications of sleep deprivations and the sheer number of those suffering from sleep problems, the total cost is likely staggering.

What causes poor sleep?
In addition to the environmental and psycho-physiological factors that contribute 85% of poor sleep causes, the wide spectrum of sleep disorders includes:

  • Disorders related to the fact that vital functions, such as breathing, become vulnerable during sleep, which facilitates the onset of Sleep Related Breathing Disorders

  • Intrinsic sleep disorders, such Narcolepsy

  • Sleep disorders resulting from other diseases, such as medical disorders that cause pain, or neurological disorders that cause sleep disruption like Parkinson’s, or mood disorder that lead to Insomnia or to extended sleep, and many others

Making good sleep more widely available to everyone
But there’s also good news. Technology is making affordable sleep assessment and treatment through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy — which Time Magazine’s Francine Russo recently called the “gold standard for treating sleep disturbances” —  available to a much larger group of people. SleepRate offers the ability to evaluate sleep and diagnose sleep disorders in a simple, scalable, and cost effective way, without sacrificing clinically relevant information regarding sleep efficiency and sleep structure. If you’re interested in bringing better sleep to a loved one, employees, students, patients or yourself, come visit us!

 

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