Quality sleep is essential for good health. Unfortunately many people today are suffering from sleep disorders and disturbances. What’s worse the symptoms are often overlooked, leaving people undiagnosed and untreated. Could you be one of those people? And if you think you might be, what can you do?
The National Institutes of Health estimates that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder, and according to polls conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 7 out of 10 Americans say they experience frequent sleep problems.
An ongoing lack of adequate amounts and quality of sleep can contribute to the development of many chronic conditions including diabetes, kidney and heart disease, high blood pressure, depression and even stroke. For children and teens, growth and development may also be affected. In the short term a lack of sleep can have a negative effect on our ability to learn and work efficiently, to get along with others and to safely drive or perform other tasks that require us to be alert and attentive.
There are a wide variety of sleep disorders all resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness and lack of energy as well as the need to nap during the day in some cases. Some are specifically related to shift work (for those who work nights) and to jet lag (for those who travel often). There are many different symptoms, but five of the most common are:
If you experience any of these symptoms on a consistent basis you should see your primary care provider, who can refer you for a sleep study. You should seek out an accredited sleep disorder center. There, you’ll settle down for a full night’s (or day’s) sleep for a minimum of six hours. But first a sleep technologist will apply small electrodes, respiratory belts, nasal cannula and an oximeter probe to monitor your sleep patterns and movements. Your movements will also be monitored by digital video.
The results are interpreted by a physician who specializes in sleep medicine, who can then provide a diagnosis and the appropriate treatment that can provide you with the quality sleep you need for optimal health and wellness.
Dr. Majaz Moonis is medical director of the Sleep Disorder Center and Stroke Center at Day Kimball Hospital, and Stroke Director at UMass Memorial Hospital.
Specialty Care: Sleep Medicine
Day Kimball Hospital: Sleep Disorder Center