J.C. Blair Sleep Specialist Sarah Elder, pictured left, presented the luncheon program entitled “About Last Night . . .” addressing sleep and its effects on heart health at J.C. Blair’s 4th Annual Wear Red Day Luncheon. Pictured with Elder are J.C. Blair’s Women’s Heart Health Coordinator Rachelle Hopsicker, center, and Juniata College’s Pat Kepple, right, who coordinated and hosted the event attended by nearly 200 women.
Sleep and its Effects on the Heart Presented by J.C. Blair's Sleep Specialist
The Women’s Heart Health Initiative at J. C. Blair Memorial Hospital celebrated this year’s Wear Red Day by sponsoring its 4th annual Wear Red Day luncheon at Juniata College on Friday, February 4. Nearly 200 women, all dressed in red, attended the luncheon hosted by Juniata College’s first lady Pat Kepple. Sarah Elder, MS, RPSGT, a registered polysomnographic technologist (Sleep Specialist) at J.C. Blair, presented the luncheon program entitled “About Last Night . . .,” which addressed sleep and its effects on heart health.
Elder said, that in the past 100 years we have decreased our nightly sleep time by nearly two hours due to current technological distractions, i.e. cell phones, TV’s, lights etc. and the busy lives that we lead. Sleep is a biological imperative, meaning we must have it. Lack of good sleep can lead to physical and mental instability.
Elder states that people need seven to nine hours of sleep at night. If well rested, it should take less than 15-20 minutes to fall asleep. She then described the five stages of sleep:
• Stage 1-the head bobs
• Stage 2-actually relaxed and lose muscle tone
• Stages 3 and 4--Slow wave sleep where you are completely out. Deep sleep when our head rests.
• REM-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep - Dream sleep with no muscle tone or paralyzed
In order to be fully rested, she said we must go through all five stages of sleep without disruption.
Teens actually need more sleep than children and adults, requiring nine to ten hours of uninterrupted sleep nightly. In a recent study from 2010, the national average for a high school student is five hours per night. Electronic messaging is one of the biggest disruptions affecting the sleep patterns of teens. The average teen gets 33.5 text messages or e-mails per night. Of the teens that were polled, half of them kept awake by electronic media suffered from a whole host of problems including attention deficit disorder, anxiety, depression and learning difficulties.
Elder pointed out that snoring is not a normal part of sleep. It can be the first sign of a serious sleep disorder, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Some of the symptoms of OSA are: snoring interrupted by pauses in breathing, gasping or choking in sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability, memory loss, morning headache, depression and intimacy decline. Untreated OSA can lead to hypertension, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, decreased quality of life and/or fatigue-related accidents.
Poor sleep can worsen your mood which can, in turn, worsen your sleep and lead to depression and anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle. The choices women make when they are tired during the day will usually sacrifice healthy lifestyle activities. They will choose to work more, exercise less, eat less healthy foods, and sleep less which leads to a number of heart health risks.
Elder offered some tips for those dealing with insomnia, the inability to fall asleep or sleep soundly through the night. Make time to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night, keep the bedroom quiet and comfortable, keep your bedroom for rest and pleasure, rid your bedroom of distractions like work, cell phones and pets. For help in falling asleep, she recommends finding a pulse point on the neck or wrist and focus on your heart beat and breathing. Counting sheep or blessings or whatever allows your mind to quiet is also helpful. She said the best tip for an over stimulated brain is to have a note pad next to your bed. If you start to think of something in the middle of the night, write it down and forget it! Finally, she recommends giving yourself permission to fall asleep. If insomnia lasts more than two to three weeks, she recommends talking with your family doctor.
Chris Gildea, Director of Marketing and Community Relations at J. C. Blair and women’s health advocate, closed the program with a reminder that research shows that women who “Go Red” are more likely to make heart healthy choices. More than one-third have lost weight, nearly one-half have increased exercise, six out of ten have changed their diets, more than 40 percent have checked their cholesterol levels and one third have talked with their doctors about developing heart healthy plans.
Gildea reminded everyone that the event was made possible through a private donation to the J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital Foundation for the purpose of increasing awareness, educating the community and health care providers and screening women for early signs of heart disease. The next free women’s heart health screening is scheduled for Saturday, February 19, at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital’s Wound Healing Center. For more information or to become involved in the initiative, contact Rachelle Hopsicker, the Women’s Heart Health Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (814) 207-1410.