A Healthy Dose of Sleep

Sleep is a crucial part of staying healthy. While sleeping, you restore your energy levels. Most adults require seven to eight hours of sleep a night to complete a full cycle of sleep. The importance of sleep is about more than staving off feeling groggy the next day; it has long term benefits as well. David Oliver, DO, an osteopathic physician from Ocala, Florida outlines the risks of sleep deprivation and how to make sure you are well rested.

“Sleep is one of the best ways to cope with things such as stress, problem solving, and illness,” says Dr. Oliver. “When you are sleeping, your brain has a chance to recharge itself.” Dr. Oliver points out the risks involved with getting insufficient sleep:

  • Short-term memory loss. “Sleep deprivation can impact your memory for a short period of time and negatively impact your thought process,” Dr. Oliver says. You may forget a task or pause halfway through, forgetting what the original task was.
  • Depression. When you lack energy, you can lack motivation to complete simple responsibilities. “The lack of energy and loss of focus can make you have a negative image of yourself,” warns Dr. Oliver
  • Weak immune system. “Sleep is when the body repairs and regenerates tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system,” says Dr. Oliver. Lack of sleep can increase your chances of becoming ill.

When you sleep, you cycle between two different stages of sleep: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. “REM sleep occurs more frequently in infants and adolescents,” Dr. Oliver points out. What happens during these stages is as follows:

  • First Stage of NREM sleep. “As you enter the first stage of NREM sleep, you can be awakened easily and feel as though you haven’t slept at all,” Dr. Oliver says. Although only lasting about ten minutes, you may experience the feeling of falling and/or abruptly jolt yourself awake in this stage.
  • Second stage of NREM sleep. In this stage, you prepare to enter a deep sleep. “The heart rate slows and your body temperature starts to decrease,” says Dr. Oliver.
  • Third and Forth stages of NREM sleep. The final two stages of NREM sleep are the deepest stages of sleep. “If you are awakened from these stages of sleep, you may feel disorientated for a few minutes,” Dr. Oliver informs.
  • REM sleep. This sleep typically occurs 90 minutes after the onset of sleep. “During REM sleep, eyes move rapidly in various directions. You will experience intense dreaming due to the increase in brain activity,” says Dr. Oliver.

Dr. Oliver reminds us that caffeine and other stimulants cannot overcome the effects of severe sleep deprivation. “REM and NREM are important to go though to prevent sleep deprivation risks from occurring.”

The amount of sleep needed can change with how deprived of sleep you are, but Dr. Oliver suggests aiming for at least seven to eight hours every night. “Think of sleeping like a bank. When you don’t get enough sleep, you are overdrawing your account and need to repay your debt. The more you take out, the more sleep you need to function,” Dr. Oliver concludes.

Preventive medicine is just one aspect of care osteopathic physicians provide. DOs are fully licensed to prescribe medicine and practice in all specialty areas, including surgery. DOs are trained to consider the health of the whole person and use their hands to help diagnose and treat their patients.