When is the last time you could vividly remember a dream? How about just waking up feeling rested? For one in three working Americans, a good night's sleep is truly a dream and the sleep debt they are building up is dangerously unhealthy.
It has been three years since Billy Bertrand decided it was time to meet with the sleep man himself, Dr. Jana Kaimal, with Sleep Disorder Center of Louisiana in Lake Charles. "Trouble sleeping, keeping people awake in the house," he said.
Bertrand got to know his couch pretty well in those days, removing himself from the bedroom because the impact his sleep problems were having on his wife and kids. "I was actually asleep, but thinking I was awake and I could hear everything going around me," he said.
Bertrand would wake up feeling exhausted and dread the eight hours a day he spent on the road as a salesman. Dr. Kaimal says sleep deprivation affects your weight, health, mood and productivity. "They might not remember something they need to remember," he said, "gradually your intellectual function deteriorates, your reaction time as well."
A sleep test helped pinpoint Bertrand's problems. "You fall asleep and then they measure how many times you wake up in the middle of the night," said Bertrand.
Within the first hour, Bertrand woke up over 30 times. His diagnosis was two sleep disorders - something common in people consistently waking up feeling exhausted. "Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep," said Dr. Kaimal, "but most of them are getting less than six hours of sleep."
When it comes to investing in your home, Dr. Kaimal says your bedroom is the most important room - from your mattress to window coverings and the temperature, you want to make sure you have the ideal sleeping environment. "A well insulated, well ventilated, cool room is what you need," he said.
Routine also helps keep your sleep rhythm in check, as does exercise. "Exercise is activity," said Dr. Kaimal, "those are the things that fix your sleep-wake clock and if the clock is proper, you are likely to sleep better."
Bertrand has made changes to his routine and takes a daily medication to help him sleep soundly. That has changed his quality of life. "You feel like taking on the day," he said, "it's just been a Godsend. All of the problems started disappearing."