Feeling Tired? Energized? Not sure? There can be a lot of wonder about how we slumber! It’s Sleep Awareness Week, our annual reminder of the importance and its impact on our overall health and well-being. Is it time for you to prioritize your sleep habits or perhaps seek help with sleep-related issues? As a Vermonter would say, “Hard tellin’, not knowin’!” Let’s get in the know about sleep, so you can tell if you need more support to win a better night’s sleep and a longer life!

Sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health, making it important for us to pay attention to our sleep patterns, especially during times of daylight-saving time, like right now. Here in the NEK where sunlight exposures vary so much, it can affect the body’s internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. The good news is, that we can make up for the short days with tiny tips and tweaks to our own lives such as establishing a consistent bedtime routine, creating a comfortable sleep environment, avoiding caffeine before bed, engaging in relaxation techniques before sleep, and limiting screentime before bed.

Even with taking all the tiny steps, you may feel like your sleep life isn’t working for or with you. Living with persistent sleep difficulties that impact your daily functioning and quality of life is challenging. Thankfully, North Country Hospital (NCH) has the skills, tools, and resources to help! With consultation at a sleep center like the Northern Vermont Center for Sleep Medicine at NCH, individuals can gain valuable insights into potential sleep disorders or sleep abnormalities and personalized treatment options.

Here are the top five reasons why individuals might consider asking for a sleep evaluation at their next doctor’s visit:

1. Persistent Insomnia: Having consistent trouble falling asleep or staying asleep regularly; may indicate underlying insomnia that requires professional evaluation and management.

2. Excessive Daytime Sleepiness: Feeling excessively tired during the day despite getting an adequate amount of nighttime sleep.

3. Loud Snoring or Breathing Pauses: Loud snoring accompanied by gasping or choking sounds during sleep may be indicative of a serious condition that requires medical attention.

4. Restless Leg Syndrome: Uncomfortable sensations in the legs that worsen at night and disrupt sleep can be a symptom of a neurological disorder that affects sleep quality.

5. Shift Work Sleep Disorder: Individuals who work non-traditional hours (as in you work nights sometimes, days others, etc.) may experience difficulties with their sleep-wake cycle, leading to issues that can impact their overall health.

Only you know how your sleep is going, and how you are feeling. Only you know if you are getting enough sleep, or too little. Studies show that most people aren’t necessarily living with sleep disorders but lack the self-discipline to just go to bed and get enough sleep. (No excuses can override the need for sleep!) Matthew Walker is a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California and Founder/Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. Walker is well-known with appearances on TV, radio, and other outlets including CBS 60 Minutes, NPR, The BBC, and more, as well as an accomplished writer. During his TED Radio Hour interview on NPR, called “Why Is It Essential To Make Time For Sleep?”, Walker shared this, “Once you drop below seven hours, we can start to measure objective impairments in your brain and your body. The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. Short sleep predicts all-cause mortality…It’s taken Mother Nature, let’s say, 3.6 million years to put this essential need of seven to nine hours in place for the average adult. And for us to think, perhaps with a little bit of self-confidence, that we could come along and start to say, you know, I can train myself to survive on, let’s say, just six hours or 6 1/2 hours a night…it’s a dangerous thing. You know, when you fight biology, you normally lose. And when you lose, the way that it’s usually revealed is disease and sickness. And unfortunately, that’s what we see with insufficient sleep.” Those are some factually based, science-driven, and perhaps tough-love motivational statements we all need this month to take sleep awareness more seriously. We want to live longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives, not short ones filled with disease and sickness. It’s time to start winning at sleeping!


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center