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Hurricane Sandy Power Outages – Effects on Sleep

A recent post to Huffington Post’s Healthy Living blog discussed how power outages not only left millions on the east coast in the dark, but also could have created a serious disruption in their normal sleep patterns.

“You can get your sleep screwed up very quickly,” said W. Christopher Winer, M.D., medical director of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center in Charlottesville, Va.

Winer explained to Huffington Post’s Laura Shocker that when the power goes out, there’s a noticeable disruption in zeitgebers (German for “time givers”). These are little things your body uses to understand where it is in the day, such as light exposure, exercise, bathing, social interaction and eating.

“Those are the things that really help your body kind of figure out where it is in a 24 hour period,” Winer said.

When the power goes out all of your daily zeitgebers are disrupted, and in turn, so is your sleep. In addition, dealing with the anxiety of a storm like Sandy can also keep people up at night.

“Stress is the single most important thing that keeps you from sleeping,” said Joe Ojile, M.D., founder and CEO of Clayton Sleep Institute in St. Louis, Mo. and board member of the National Sleep Foundation. Ojile explained that research has shown that missing out on sleep can also make a person more vulnerable to daytime anxieties, which creates a vicious cycle.

For more on this topic, visit Huffington Post Healthy Living.

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