Your Family Dentist Shares About the Importance of a Good Night's Sleep

Family DentistAs a family dentist, we are passionate about helping our patients to become as healthy as possible.  This is why we recommend visiting our Huntsville office for a teeth cleaning twice a year and eating a mouth-healthy diet.  We also like to share information that can improve your overall health.  Recently a study was conducted in a partnership between the University of California, San Francisco, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  The study evaluated the impact that sleep had on whether or not someone would get a cold.  As it turns out, how much you sleep can directly impact how healthy you are.

To get accurate test results, they measured how much sleep each person was getting using a watch that they would wear at night.  This provided a more accurate reading than self-reporting or conducting a sleep study in the lab.  Next, they put all of the participants in individual hotel rooms for a week and infected them with the common cold.  They found that anyone getting less than five hours of sleep per night were 4.5 times more likely to get sick and those getting less than six hours sleep per night were 4.2 times more likely. Essentially, how many hours you sleep a night this week, can impact your immune system and ability to fight sickness the following week.

This study is particularly interesting because we have always said that it is important to get sleep.  Most people know that the more sleep you get, the higher functioning you will be.  It has long been thought that sleep also plays a role in whether or not people remain healthy, but this study proves it.  As a family dentist, we also found it interesting that the amount of sleep people had was even more important than whether or not they were a smoker when reviewing risk factors.  Even age was less important than the amount of sleep a person got.

If you want to stay in optimal health, you need to sleep for at least seven hours every night.  Since we are going into the winter and cold and flu season, it is particularly important to pay attention to this research study and change your schedule to get more rest.  While this may not be easy due to the demands of work and family, not getting enough rest could make you so sick that you miss out on scheduled activities anyway.  Prevention, therefore, is the best solution just as it is for dentistry.  That same philosophy is why we recommend having teeth cleaned to prevent cavities rather than simply waiting for them to develop.

If you are going to bed at a decent hour and still waking up tired, let us know that as well.  When people get more than seven hours sleep but are still fatigued, it is often due to obstructive sleep apnea.  This is when the jaw and tongue fall backwards, blocking the airway during sleep.  As a result, not enough oxygen is received.  Fortunately, there are non-invasive dental solutions that can solve this problem.  To learn more or to discuss any health concerns that you have call our family dentist office at (256) 660-3089.

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