The third Friday of March commemorates the world sleep day and this year, under the motto “Sleep is essential for health”is organized with the aim of influencing the importance of people of all ages taking measures to improve their sleep because it has a critical influence on health and wellbeing. physical, mental and social well-being.
“Sleep is essential for health. Sleeping adequately is just as important as a correct diet or physical exercise. We know that sleep has a huge influence on memory and learning and also on long-term brain health.” points out Dr. Ana Fernández Arcos, Coordinator of the Study Group on Wakefulness and Sleep Disorders of the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN).
“For example, poor sleep has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and premature mortality. We also know that a worse immune response is produced, creating a greater susceptibility to infections. In addition, it can pose a greater risk of accidents at work and while driving, since reaction time and decision-making are affected. We have increasing evidence that some sleep disorders They could be closely related to the risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cerebrovascular disease or having poor control of epilepsy. However, the percentage of the population that does not rest adequately is very high”.
Health 50% of the population have trouble falling asleep
The Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN) estimates that the 48% of the Spanish adult population and 25% of the child population do not have quality sleep. In addition, at least 50% of the population have trouble falling asleep and 32% wake up with the feeling of not having had a good night’s sleep.
“There are several factors necessary for good quality sleep. First, the duration, which must be long enough to be rested and alert the next day: Adults should sleep between 7 and 9 hours a day, children over 2 years of age more than 10 hours, and adolescents at least 8. On the other hand, the regularity of the rest schedule according to our circadian rhythm or biological clock. And finally, continuity, since sleep periods must be stable, avoiding fragmentation, consisting of all its phases (especially the deep NREM and REM sleep) to be repairman And when at least one of these elements fails, we are no longer resting properly.” explains Dr. Ana Fernández Arcos.
Although people of all ages and sexes can have problems sleeping, the different studies that have been carried out in Spain agree that They are more frequent in women and in older people: only 33% of Spanish women sleep at least 7 hours during the week and more than 25% of the elderly have sleep problems. In any case, they also significantly affect Spanish children and adolescents, where at least 20% admit that they do not have regular schedules and more than 30% consider that their sleep is insufficient.
“To have good habits It is essential not only to try to sleep enough hours according to our age, but also to have a regular sleep schedule”, explains Dr. Ana Fernández Arcos. “In addition, to achieve a good quality of sleep it is also important to wear a healthy life, trying to perform physical exercise on a regular basisavoiding -especially close to bedtime- copious meals and substances such as alcohol and tobacco that can alter our rest.
Naps are discouraged in case of trouble falling asleep at night and in general we recommend that they do not exceed 20-30 minutes. On the other hand, the environment where we sleep plays a fundamental role in getting better sleep. Factors such as staying in the dark and quiet and try to avoid stress by removing those elements that can over-excite us before going to sleep, such as the use of mobile phones or computers, are also measures to take into account”.
Health Less than a third of people seek professional help
Although taking measures that promote good sleep habits can serve in many cases to improve the quality of our rest, the stage of life we are in, the sex and genetics of each person also play an important role. They exist close to 100 sleep disorders ranked and, furthermore, there are many people who live with diseases whose symptoms interfere with a good rest. But while most disorders can be prevented or treated, less than a third of people who suffer from them seek professional help. This means that, in Spain, there are disorders that have only been diagnosed in 10% of the people who actually suffer from them.
“While experiencing occasional changes in sleep is normal, anyone who is unable to get restful sleep, despite improving their habits, should consult their doctor. Although sleep problems have unfortunately been normalized or culturally accepted, improving rest has to be a priority for all because it is essential for health”, highlights Dr. Ana Fernández Arcos.
According to SEN data, mMore than 4 million Spaniards suffer from some type of chronic and serious sleep disorder. On the other hand, the World Sleep Society estimates that at least 45% of the world’s population will suffer from some serious disorder at some point.
Insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, circadian rhythm disorders, restless legs syndrome, NREM parasomnias, conduct disorder, narcolepsy or idiopathic hypersomnia are the most common sleep disorders among the Spanish population.