Wake up!

You don't have to be bubbly - but try to get the new year going by increasing morning energy

Posted: Sunday, January 08, 2006

Coffee, soda, tea and orange juice are just a few of the beverages weary morning workers drink to help wake up. For many, the daily grind begins with a noisy alarm abruptly jerking them out of a peaceful night's slumber, but for a few, waking up requires more than just coffee beans.

"The inability to wake up in a timely fashion is one indicator of sleep problems or sleep deficit," explains Mary Kelley, natural sleep therapist and founder of Sleep Garden Inc., a distributor of non-drug sleep solutions. "Dragging yourself out of bed certainly indicates you have not gotten enough quality sleep. Causes can be sleep drugs, prescription or over-the-counter; alcohol; lack of exercise; smoking; excess caffeine and a variety of other behaviors."

Eight is great

Despite the myths, the average adult needs eight hours of sleep a night. Any less than six hours, say experts, and you could be at risk for lack of alertness or even falling asleep on the job.

"[Sleep disorders] are definitely underdiagnosed," says Dr. Robert Gunnink, medical director for the REM Medical Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. "We spend one-third of our lives sleeping, and I can tell you that your doctor doesn't spend one-third of this time talking about your sleep habits when you go in for a physical."

Sleeping habits

Gunnink adds that sleepiness during the day or inability to awake in a timely manner could be signs of a more serious sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea. Because approximately one in five Americans has at least mild OSA, experts agree that sleep disorders - even trouble waking up in the morning - must be taken seriously.

"There are two bad things that happen with sleep apnea," he explains. "One: you stop breathing for a few seconds, and then you have this arousal that causes you to breathe again, which is a good thing, but that doesn't give you a nice, long stretch of uninterrupted sleep, so you're sleepy the next day. Two: that cycle has serious affects on the heart and cardiovascular system."

Gunnink adds that because sleep disorders are a somewhat new medical specialty, there is still a certain stigma attached to getting treatment. However, if your sleep habits are interfering with work, talk to your doctor before turning to any sleep medication.

- Lisa Radke

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