Is lack of sleep our biggest health concern of 2018?

sleep deprivation health

Our attitudes towards health are constantly evolving. Certain habits and actions that were once seen as an everyday part of people’s lifestyles are now regarded as hugely detrimental to long-term health and derided by medical practitioners.

Take smoking for instance, as this wonderful advert demonstrates, it was not that long ago that the idea that cigarettes were bad for your health seemed implausible. Fast-forward to 2018 and there it is hard to find a more commonly held belief that smoking harms your health.

As a medical professional, I often wonder what future generations will look back on with incredulous laughter about our attitudes to health. Looking at the latest medical literature, I am beginning to suspect that it may be our attitudes towards sleep.

Recent findings have found significant links between poor sleep and Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and a weakened immune system. Although it is not farfetched to imagine that ignoring your body’s craving for sleep is harmful, it is only just coming to light the extent to which poor sleep compromises one’s health.

This is particularly worrying giving the prevalence of people having insufficient sleep. The average amount of sleep each night for an adult in the UK is 6.6 hours which, given that medical professionals recommend 7 hours a night at an absolute minimum, shows that most of us are putting our health at risk through our sleeping habits.

It is our attitudes towards sleep that is most concerning of all. Many people seem to equate being able to operate on little sleep as an example of their productivity. Getting the optimum 8 hours of sleep a night is seen as indulgent at best and, at worse, an indicator of idleness.

Indeed the way we venerate people who “power through the tiredness” is comparable to the glamour and masculinity associated with smoking back in the early to mid 20th Century. This is something we would simply scoff at now.

Attitudes need to change and people should feel empowered to get as much sleep as is needed for optimal help. That’s why, as a health professional, I am endeavouring to lead the charge against this health crisis. I am doing this by partnering with Dr Kat Lederle, a doctor of sleep medicine, to launch a sleep workshop at 92 Dental.

We hope to run interactive sessions where we educate you about different sleep disorders and common barriers to sleep. We also hope to implement habits to help ensure a better nights sleep.

The first of these workshops will be held at the practice on Tuesday 23rd January from 18:30-20:30. If you are interested in joining us please call Jenny on 020 8748 1381. Places cost £65.

We hope to see you there.