Why aren't Americans sleeping - AmericaNowNews.com

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Why aren't Americans sleeping

This is  about the importance of sleep. We've all heard that getting enough of it is good for our health, our brains, our emotional well-being. And yet 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems at least a few nights a week! But the fix may be easier than you think. We go inside one of the top sleep labs in the country for an exclusive look at what you can do to get a good night's sleep.

America Now's Asha Blake says, "If you are one of the 50,000,000 Americans who doesn't get a good night's sleep, this smartphone might just be part of the problem. I'm here at the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center to undergo a sleep study because I think I just might have a little problem with "techno-insomnia.""

Dr. Susan Sprau, one of the country's top sleep experts, says the latest research confirms that using a cell or smartphone in bed is contributing to America's sleep deprivation.

"Most electronic devices like cell phones, smart phones emit a blue light so you can see the screen," says Sprau, "The closer you're holding the device to your eyes, the more of the blue light is gonna go into the brain. What that does is it tends to suppress your brain's melatonin, which is one of the important hormones in the brain that helps you to fall asleep. So, we think it is a significant problem for most people."

I consulted with Dr. Sprau and told her that I use my phone before bed and also when i wake up at three AM every night and can't get back to sleep. So she ordered a sleep study.

"The sleep study is going to help us determine what is causing you to wake up. And, if you have any difficulty falling asleep, it will help us to sort that out. It helps to make sure we're not missing any other condition say, sleep apnea. We don't want to just assume it's your cell phone," says Sprau.

Is it complicated to do a sleep study?

"There's a technician in the lab all night long with you," says Sprau, "They hook you up. The hook-up takes about an hour and they have electrodes placed on you scalp as well as EKG monitors and an oxygen sensor on your finger, a loose vest on your chest and abdomen to measure your breathing and electrodes on your legs. That's all connected to a computer. And in the final report, we give the patient a picture of the different stages of their sleep so they can actually see what their sleep pattern looked like."

"Surprisingly, in spite of all the wires, I was able to settle in and fall asleep very quickly. The room was quiet and dark, and i slept undisturbed throughout the night," says Blake, "A few days later, the results of my sleep study were in."

"You didn't have any of the common diseases that we associate with a poor nights sleep," says Sprau, "You did have a slight increase in your micro arousals. Yours was 14 per hour and up to 10 per hour is normal. So we know that you tend to wake up very easily at night so you would be someone we would encourage to have a room that is dark and quiet and conducive to sleep."

"There was a light in the backyard and I turned it off I did not use my phone. This is the thing that I learned probably the most for the last week. I didn't use any electronics 90 minutes before I went to sleep. And I slept better and I slept longer," says Blake.

"We can't do anything about the fact that our brains don't get as deep of sleep as we get older. But there are other things that we can do. Make sure our bedroom is quiet, cool and dark and that there are not a lot of other interruptions going on at night. And one of the things that you learned, was cutting back on the exposure to electronic lights before you go to sleep regular exercise, not eating food late at night. Not eating real sugary substances avoiding stimulants that may be hanging around in your body at night such as excessive caffeine," says Sprau.

"So if you suffer from chronic insomnia, a sleep study can determine if you have a serious sleep disorder or, like me, just need to change a few sleep habits. Asha Blake, America Now."

Copyright 2014 America Now. All rights reserved.

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