Sleep Patterns

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Sleep, it's vital to our overall health and well-being, but something very few people get enough of, according to Dr. John Dellarosa. 

He's a sleep specialist at Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre, and in charge of a number of sleep studies at the facility in LuzerneCounty.

He calls sleep deprivation very common.

Dr. John Dellarosa: “When people have chronic sleep deprivation, or sleep debt as we call it, they're not getting enough sleep.  They'll have problems in different areas.”

Those include cognitive issues, such as slowed thinking or difficulty with memory. Mood changes such as irritability and/or depression and metabolic changes, which can lead to weight gain.”

But Dr. Dellarosa points out, much of what causes sleep debt isn't medical at all, it's intentional, what researchers at the University of Munich's Institute of Medical Psychology, call “social jet lag.”  You want to stay up later than usual, perhaps on a Friday or Saturday night, then sleep in the next day, to socialize.  That then throws off your weekday pattern, leaving your system in constant catch-up mode.

Dr. John Dellarosa: “Some people think they can make up for it with the quote "power nap," which is a brief nap, maybe 15-30 minutes.  Can that make up for 2-3 hours of sleep loss?  It'll make you feel better initially, but you'll still have those cognitive problems.”

The solution?  All the advice you've probably heard from your own doctor: get 7-to-8 hours of sleep per night if you can, and don't deviate sleep patterns by more than an hour.  Also, try limiting activity about an hour before you'd like to fall asleep, nothing that will stimulate your brain or your digestive system.

Dr. John Dellarosa: “If you're chronically in sleep debt, one night of good sleep will help, but it won't make up those hours you've lost all week.”