24 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY january 25-31, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com There might be a few habits that first come to mind when you think about maintaining a healthy body—a balanced diet, drinking water, regular exercise. But there is another activity, even if it feels like a state of inactivity, that fuels a healthy body and mind: sleep. During sleep, the body and mind reset. The body releases hormones and proteins, nerve cells reorganize and our brain stores information. “Sleep is not an inactive phenomenon,” says Mazhar Javaid, a sleep medicine specialist at Salinas Valley Health. Quality of sleep is directly proportional to quality of life, and it goes beyond crankiness or tiredness, Javaid says. It can affect short-term memory, learning, sex life, growth in children and chronic health problems including heart disease, obesity, depression and anxiety. “Sleep deprivation on a regular basis also impairs our immune system,” says Richard Kanak, medical director for Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula’s Sleep Disorders Center, highlighting that without sufficient sleep, our bodies are less likely to be equipped to fight illnesses, including some as serious as cancer. Good sleep among teens and children can affect their behavior, concentration and learning. During sleep is also when the body releases growth hormone. “If you talk to a teenager nowadays, they will say sleep is a waste of time,” Javaid says, but research shows the opposite. According to the American Physiological Association, adolescents need about 9.25 hours of sleep every night. During the 20222023 school year, California became the first state to implement late start in schools with an 8:30am start time so students can get more sleep, the result of a 2019 state law. “[Parents] have no idea that a 10-year-old child needs about 10 to 11 hours of sleep at night,” Javaid adds. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night for adults. However, in 2020 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that one-third of American adults sleep less than seven hours. Some of those adults—some 200 patients are referred per month to SVH and 160 to CHOMP—become sleep center patients, seeking a solution to sleeplessness. Kanak says it is a misconception people should fall asleep as soon as their head touches the pillow. Falling asleep instantly is a sign of sleep deprivation; for someone with good sleep habits, it can take between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep. Despite sleep being essential to wellness, most people with sleep deprivation never see a sleep specialist. But specialists say the stigma around sleep disorders has changed over the past few decades. Doctors and patients are more aware of how important sleep is, and people are more willing to seek professional help if they snore, suffer from insomnia or suspect they have sleep apnea. Some common sleep disorders include insomnia— accounting for some 95 percent of patients referred to a sleep specialist—as well as sleep apnea (ceasing breathing during sleep) and restless leg syndrome. Snoring, feeling sleepy, and waking up with headaches may be common symptoms of sleep apnea; people with narrow faces, high-arched roofs of their mouths, and small lower jaws are more prone to the condition. Sleep medicine is a relatively new field that was born in the second half of the 20th century to promote good sleep habits and treat people with sleep disorders. Thanks to computers and sleep monitors, the field has rapidly developed and specialists can collect information from sleep phases based on brain activity, body movements and breathing. Sleep studies (not all health insurance covers them) can give specialists a way to discover the patient’s sleep quality. They gather an array of information including how long the patient took to fall asleep, if they woke up during the night, if they stopped breathing or moved during their sleep, and more. The study entails attaching a number of devices to your body before falling asleep, and some kits are designed for patients to use at home in their own bed. Body Reset Good sleep—in both quantity and quality— is the holy grail for a healthy mind and body. By Celia Jiménez HEALTH & FITNESS Age group Recommended hours of sleep per day 0–3 months 14–17 hours (National Sleep Foundation) 4–12 months 12–16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) 1–2 years 11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) 3–5 years 10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) 6–12 years 9–12 hours per 24 hours 13–18 years 8–10 hours per 24 hours 18–60 years 7 or more hours per night 61–64 years 7–9 hours per night 65 years and older 7–8 hours per night Sleep Tight According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the amounts of sleep recommended by age group are below—it might be more than you think: At CHOMP’s Sleep Disorders Center, clinicians split in-house sleep studies—in the first half they monitor the patient and during the second half they provide CPAP (a machine that uses pressure to keep airways open). Above, Jesus Cazares, a supervisor, shows a kit patients take for at-home sleep apnea studies. celia jiménez celia jiménez