Here is another in our continuing series of articles about news and information from around Rochester.
According to the leading statistics, close to 30% of Americans report only getting six hours of sleep per night or less. But Rochester’s experts say that’s not a bad thing — as long as it’s good sleep.
Dr. Robert Israel is the medical director at Unity Health System’s Sleep Disorders Center which has locations in Greece and Brighton. He recently told the Democrat and Chronicle that getting eight hours of sleep per night — what we consider to be normal today — would have been completely unusual about 200 or 300 years ago. That’s because the human body wasn’t used to artificial light in those days.
Instead, it was quite common for a person to sleep about four hours, then wake up energized and do a few chores around his or her abode. Then, once those were done, he or she would lie back down again for another four hours.
Today, however, we have much too many distractions to properly quiet our bodies and our minds down enough to get restful sleep. Or more appropriately, we have too much anxiety about not fulfilling our “required” eight hours every single night. But that’s where a little experimentation can change things.
Amy Campbell is a 44-year-old massage therapist in Rochester who’s suffered from insomnia for nearly two decades. As a result, she rarely sleeps soundly through the night. So, one week when she kept waking up in the middle of the night, she read a book by candlelight and practiced a few deep breathing exercises. This return-to-basics approach helped her calm down and sleep more efficiently and restfully.
But what about individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s? Dr. Anton P. Porsteinsson, who runs the Alzheimer’s Disease Care, Research and Education Program at the University of Rochester, told the D&C that about a quarter of all people with Alzheimer’s experience agitation in their daily routines. As a result, their caregivers often have trouble getting them to sleeping.
Preliminary research is now showing that antidepressants may help those experiencing agitation from Alzheimer’s mellow out and even sleep better. That can lead to improved relationships between person and caregiver as well — a significant factor that may also help decrease the risk of caregiver burnout. Currently, one in nine American adults has Alzheimer’s and over 300,000 suffer from it in the state of New York alone.
So whether you’ve got insomnia or are currently living through the hardships of Alzheimer’s, you can still get a night of good sleep. It might not be a solid eight hours, but, as the experts are telling us, that’s not a bad thing anymore.