Avera Medical Minute: Taking a look at how sleep affects your overall health

Published: Jul. 27, 2023 at 5:36 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Avera pulmonologist Dr. Anthony Hericks shared how much sleep you should be getting and if it’s really possible to get caught up on lost sleep.

“The ideal adult needs somewhere between seven and eight hours of sleep,” said Dr. Hericks. “There is a group of people that could get away with six hours and do just fine. Some people need closer to nine, but there have been some research studies that show if you on average get less than six hours of sleep or sleep more than eight hours a night, you may have a shorter life expectancy.”

“Everybody has a little different body clock that is set internally, and sometimes when the body clock doesn’t match up with our typical sleep-wake cycle, it can cause problems. For example, the nurse that might have shift work where they’re working a night shift and trying to sleep during the day — that can throw things into a disorganized sleep rhythm and cause problems,” said Dr. Hericks. “So your bedtime might be that you’re comfortable going to bed at 11, and you get your eight hours of sleep by waking up at seven in the morning, but my body clock may tell me I need to be in bed by 9:30, and if I don’t get there, then I run into problems. So our environment drives a lot of that, which can override that sleep clock, but the sleep clock is the main driving force of when bedtime and wake-up time should be.”

“Some studies have shown that those people that get more than eight hours of sleep for whatever reason seem to live less long lives, and there is no real good evidence to say why that is,” said Dr. Hericks. “Now, it’s not that if you got eight and a half hours of sleep every night that you’d be having trouble, but I think those that chronically push their sleep to nine or ten hours routinely, it could be a body clock problem. It seems to increase mortality.”

“Over time, we develop what’s called a sleep debt,” said Dr. Hericks. “Now, I don’t think in my lifetime I will ever be able to pay that sleep debt back, but in the short term, if you are sleep deprived, by taking a nap or sleeping a little bit longer, that will allow you to pay back some of that sleep debt and maybe make you feel better.”

For more information, visit avera.org/medicalminute.