Sleep Your Way to Better Health

March 29, 2019 - 8:49 am

Sleep is big news and big business. It’s the dominant lifestyle topic anywhere you look on the virtual newsstand of the internet:  headlines about getting better sleep compete with those about decluttering your space (which will, it’s suggested, improve the quality of your sleep!) Major brands well beyond bedding companies are offering tips for enhanced snoozing while touting their products as potential sleep aids. From hotels to headphones, air fresheners to audio systems, enterprising marketers are exploiting society’s losing battles against the epidemic of sleeplessness.

How did something so natural become so elusive?  Pulmonologist and Sleep Medicine Specialist Dr. Marcella Frank addresses this every day at  Deborah Heart and Lung Center in the heart of New Jersey. She says we humans have simply gotten into the habit of burning the candle at both ends because we don’t have to burn candles after dark. “We now have electricity,” she says, “which can keep us awake and functioning. We have the internet, we have television, we have social networks, we have many activities that we’re prioritizing before sleep.”

Clearly, timing our sleep schedules around the sun’s schedule isn’t always practical, but Dr. Frank explains we certainly do need to hit the hay longer and more routinely, as research suggests there are long-term consequences from disrupting the body’s natural sleep-wake cycles. “When our sleep time isn’t synchronized with the internal rhythm of our hormones,” she says, “there’s an increase in many diseases for people who work shift work or for people who have insufficient sleep.”

Though sleep medicine as a specialty is only a few decades old, it offers useful insights into the biology of sleep and ways to get our bodies back on track to get the very best out of our days … and nights.

KYW’s Rasa Kaye talks with Dr. Frank at Deborah, to sort through the negative side effects of poor sleep, and the many ways we can improve our wellbeing by improving our sack time.