Not getting a good night’s rest can throw off your entire day: you are likely to be groggy, unfocused and possibly moody. What you might not realize is that a chronic lack of restful sleep is linked with serious medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
According to the results of a new study from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, there may be a relationship between poor sleep and glaucoma, a disease that causes damage to the optic nerve and can steal vision.
The Johns Hopkins team looked at data from the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, in which more than 6,700 people over the age of 40 with glaucoma were asked about their sleep habits.
After analyzing the data, the team made the following discoveries:
Amount of time slept: Study participants who slept for 10 or more hours per night were three times more likely to have optic nerve damage than those who slept 7 hours per night.
Participants who got three or fewer hours or 10 or more hours of sleep per night were three times more likely to have vision loss in portions of their visual field than participants who got seven hours of sleep.
Ability to fall asleep quickly: Participants who fell asleep in 9 minutes or less or who required 30 minutes or more to fall asleep after going to bed, were twice as likely to have glaucoma as those who fell asleep between 10 and 29 minutes after going to bed.
Sleepiness during the day: Participants who had memory problems due to daytime sleepiness were twice as likely to have vision loss in portions of their visual field as participants who did not have daytime sleepiness or memory problems.
Participants who reported difficulty working on hobbies because of daytime sleepiness were three times more likely to have vision loss than people who did not report any occurrences with daytime sleepiness or trouble working on hobbies.
The findings of the study suggest that poor sleep habits may be linked to a higher risk of optic nerve damage from glaucoma and glaucoma-induced vision loss.
If you are experiencing problems falling asleep, staying asleep or feeling tired or drowsy during the day, you should talk to your primary care physician about possible solutions. And, if you are 40 or older, you should see an ophthalmologist for regular eye examinations to look for signs of glaucoma and other eye diseases.
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