La importancia del sueño en la salud

The importance of sleep in health

The objective of this blog is to help the general population learn about various diseases related to Pulmonology. In such a way that people in general, if they suffer from a respiratory disease, can know it better or are able to promptly identify any symptoms that require medical evaluation and that this allows them to make broadly informed decisions with their doctor.

Today we will talk about the importance of sleep in the health of adults and children. At another time, we will describe the main sleep diseases, their diagnostic methods and therapeutic options.

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What is the dream?

Sleep is an essential biological function with the objectives:
  • Recovery
  • Energy conservation
  • Survival. In fact, not sleeping increases the probability of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Likewise, sleep is important for functions such as:

  • neurological development,
  • Learning,
  • Memory,
  • emotional regulation,
  • Cardiovascular and metabolic functions and
  • Excretion of cellular toxins.

Therefore, the importance of good quality sleep is quite clear.

How much sleep do I need to promote health?

There is variation among people in the amount of sleep we need to ensure good health. For the majority of the population, between 7-8 hours of sleep per day will be sufficient. However, it is important to mention that the amount of sleep needed will vary according to age. In fact, as we get older we will experience changes in initiating and maintaining sleep, as well as the need to take naps during the day.

Sleep in children

Children are not small adults, but differ significantly in sleep needs. A newborn may require up to 70% of the day to sleep, and this will decrease as he or she grows. In preschool age, sleep is consolidated at night, in the school phase it continues with variations until in adolescence the sleep architecture is more similar to that of adulthood.

In fact, puberty is associated with later sleep onset and later awakenings. This, added to social factors and the lifestyle of each person, can cause sleep debts that the adolescent tends to recover on weekends, which will contribute to alterations in the circadian cycle.

short sleep duration

Short sleep duration is defined as a duration of less than 6 hours in a 24-hour period, and is associated with health damage.

Short sleep can cause:

  • Attention deficit,
  • memory impairment,
  • Loss of ability to learn,
  • Alteration of the immune system,
  • Predisposition to chronic diseases such as:
  • Diabetes,
  • Arterial hypertension,
  • Obesity,
  • Depression and
  • Overall mortality

Long sleep duration

This is defined as sleeping for more than 9 hours, and like short sleep duration, it predisposes to higher mortality in general.

It is related to:

  • cardiovascular disease,
  • Cerebral vascular event (cerebral infarctions),
  • arterial hypertension and
  • Obesity

Sleep disorders

There are a variety of diseases during sleep, however, the most common are #insomnia and #SleepApnea (OSA).

Sleep apnea in pediatric age

The prevalence is 1 to 5%, occurring most frequently between 2 and 8 years of age. This is capable of affecting the child mainly in the neurological, cardiovascular and metabolic systems; causing consequences in their development that will extend to their adulthood.

The main nocturnal symptoms are:

  • Snore
  • Sweating during the night
  • Restless sleep
  • Oral breathing while sleeping
  • Observation of respiratory pauses during sleep and
  • Head extension during sleep.

However, over time the child may have manifestations during the day, which will consist of:

  • poor concentration,
  • Headaches in the morning,
  • Alterations in mood and behavior; and
  • Excessive daytime sleep or daytime hyperactivity. In fact, some children with this disease may be misdiagnosed as hyperactivity disorder.

Children at highest risk of sleep apnea are those who have the following:

  • Craniofacial alterations
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Myelomeningocele
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Asthma
  • Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome),
  • Obesity
  • Growth of tonsils and adenoids

Treatment includes surgery (tonsillectomy with adenoidectomy), use of positive pressure ventilation (CPAP), oral devices, and weight loss as indicated.

Sleep apnea in adults

The prevalence reaches up to 6% in women and 13% in men.
Adults with OSA are at increased risk of:
  • Systemic arterial hypertension,
  • Cardiovascular diseases,
  • Cerebral vascular events (cerebral infarctions),
  • Acute myocardial infarction and
  • Heart failure
  • Diabetes,
  • High cholesterol,
  • Cancer
  • Depression and
  • Increased mortality.

The symptoms present are:

  • Excessive sleep during the day
  • Snore
  • Breathing pauses during the night,
  • diuresis at night
  • Lack of concentration

The main risk factors for sleep apnea are:

  • Obesity. It is the main risk factor and is found in 60-70% of people with OSA.
  • There is a greater risk of suffering from OSA in men, however, women are also at risk of this disease, mainly during menopause or with obesity.

Treatment in adulthood is carried out through the use of CPAP, oral devices, positional therapy, weight loss and in some cases with surgery when there is no obesity.

I am Dr. Cecilio Omar Ceballos Zúñiga, specialist in pulmonology and internal medicine [National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (UNAM) and General Hospital of the State of Sonora (UNAM)] and basic training at the Mexicali School of Medicine (UABC) . Co-founder of Breathbaja.

Ced. Prof. 4829126, reg. esp. 6119468 / 7440242

We are members of:
  • American Academy of Sleep Medicine
  • Mexican Academy of Sleep Medicine
  • Mexican Society of Pulmonology and Thorax Surgery
  • European Respiratory Society
  • American Thoracic Society
  • Latin American Thorax Association
  • Latin American Society of Respiratory Physiology
  • Mexican Society of Internal Medicine. Mexicali Chapter
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