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Safe Kids Carroll County: Lack of sleep can cause injuries

Sleep is often taken advantage of. It seems it is the first thing off the to-do list. The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7.5 to 9 hours per night. Too often this does not occur. Minimal sleep loss can take a toll on your mood, energy level and ability to handle stress. Over time, sleep loss has been linked to other health consequences such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, stroke, and at-risk behaviors.

The National Institutes of Health reports 50 to 70 million Americans have sleep-related problems, such as sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, sleepwalking and restless leg syndrome. All races, economic classes, genders and ages have reported sleep-related problems. Young adults ages 12 to 25 have been identified as a population at high risk for sleepiness. Injury and death are severe consequences of sleepiness. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that drowsy driving claimed 795 lives in 2017. The American Automobile Association estimates that one of every six deadly traffic accidents, and one out of eight crashes requiring hospitalization of drivers or passengers is due to drowsy driving.

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Forty-one percent of drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel at some point and one in 10 drivers reported that they had within the past year. Shift workers and people that work long hours are six times more likely to drive drowsy. Fifteen percent of all heavy truck crashes involves drowsy driving. Forty-two percent of those that reported driving drowsy said they become stressed behind the wheel, 32% get impatient and 12% tend to drive faster. These effects can cause other roadway problems such as road rage and distracted driving.

The amount of sleep that you get each night is important, but the quality of your sleep deserves some attention. A person can sleep eight or nine hours a night but not feel well rested when they wake up because the quality of their sleep is poor.

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Ways to better your sleep:

• Keep your sleep schedule consistent. The body’s rhythm becomes confused when each day is different. Shoot to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day of the week.

• Use the time before bed to wind down. Reading a book, taking a bath, or listening to music at least an hour prior to sleep helps the body relax and prepare to sleep.

• Turn off electronic devices. The screen light keeps the brain alert even if the room lights are off. These lights will make falling asleep more difficult.

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• Turn the lights off around you. This helps the brain know that it is time for sleep. The sleep/wake cycle in the brain works off the light and dark of the sun.

• Bedroom environment should be cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. Room temperature should be kept low but comfortable. Distractions, such as street lights, should be blocked.

• Sheets, pillows, mattress, and other elements of your bed should be fresh and comforting to you.

For more information: www.nih.gov, www.sleepfoundation.org and www.nhtsa.gov.

Maggie Rauser is the Safe Kids coordinator for the Carroll County Health Department.

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