Could lack of sleep kill you?

Down 1 hour of sleep = 2x more likely to crash; how to improve sleep

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than one-third of adults in the United States get less than seven hours of sleep each night. When you aren’t getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep, you could be putting yourself at risk for more than dark circles under your eyes.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic released findings earlier this month saying when you are just one to two hours short of the recommended hours of sleep; you are doubling your risk for a crash the next day.

The dangers of driving while sleepy are nothing new. A 2012 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that sleepiness is almost as risky as driving while intoxicated.

So if sleep is so important, why aren’t people getting enough?

“In today’s 24/7 world, we sometimes feel like we have to give up something to get in everything we want or need to do, but sleep is too important to sacrifice,” said Scott A. McClure, MBA, RRT, director, sleep medicine, Norton Healthcare.

If are having trouble getting the recommended hours of sleep, you may have poor “sleep hygiene.” Follow these guidelines to get better zzz’s at night:

  1. Just say no: Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine six to eight hours before bedtime.
  2. Last call: Skip after-dinner drinks, as alcohol disturbs sleep.
  3. Eat right: Be mindful of what you eat (or don’t eat) before bedtime. Some foods, like chocolate, can be a stimulant that can keep you from falling asleep.
  4. Skip the sleeping pills: Sleep medications often are only temporarily effective. It’s better to create healthy sleep habits without them.
  5. Get moving: Regular exercise (at least 30 minutes each day) can help your sleep schedule.
  6. Set the mood: Create a positive sleeping environment so your bedroom is a place of peace and quiet, promoting good sleep. Your bedroom should be a moderate temperature, quiet and dark with a comfortable mattress. Position your clock out of sight.
  7. Nix the naps: Naps sound like a great idea when you are really tired, but they can make it harder to fall asleep and also reduce the quality of your sleep.
  8. Unwind: Allow yourself at least an hour before bedtime to wind down.
  9. Avoid screen time: Turn off the television and put down the phone or tablet before bedtime. The screen glare can keep you awake longer than your body wants.
  10. Get out of bed: Spending too much time in bed can affect your sleep! Your bed should be for sleeping — not lounging or watching television. Cut down your time lying in bed in order to improve your sleep.


If you are experiencing sleep-related issues on a regular basis, call one of two Norton Sleep Center locations – Norton Audubon Hospital at (502) 636-7459 or Norton Brownsboro Hospital at (502) 394-6370.

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