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Have you resolved to make 2019 a year of better health? One of the ways you can help achieve that goal is to evaluate your sleep health. Do you get enough sleep every night? Is it quality sleep?
Many people do not realize the importance of healthy sleeping habits to their overall wellness. Most adults need at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night to maintain good health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of U.S. adults do not get the recommended amount of sleep. In addition, there are several common sleeping disorders that, left untreated, can be even very damaging to a person’s health.
Along with feeling tired, poor sleeping habits or untreated sleeping disorders can cause high blood pressure, increased stress, weight gain, depression, loss of motor skills and heart damage. In addition, lack of sleep makes it extremely dangerous to operate motor vehicles or other machinery.
The following four sleep disorders are common in the U.S., according to the CDC:
• Insomnia — Symptoms of insomnia include the inability to initiate or maintain sleep, early morning awakening and excessive sleepiness throughout the day. Insomnia can impair a person’s daily functions, cause mood swings or depression and affect heart health and weight gain. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 48 percent of Americans experience insomnia occasionally and 22 percent experience insomnia every night.
• Narcolepsy — Narcolepsy is most often characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness combined with sudden muscle weakness. The sudden muscle weakness people with narcolepsy experience often occurs in “attacks” that are triggered by strong emotion or surprise, and can happen at any time, even during physical activity. This is particularly dangerous while driving.
• Restless Leg Syndrome — The hallmark sign of RLS is an unpleasant feeling in the lower legs, often accompanied by aches and pains. People who experience RLS typically have difficulty falling asleep and try to relieve their discomfort by walking or kicking their legs.
• Sleep Apnea — Excessive snoring periodically interrupted by gasping or snorting noises is a key characteristic of sleep apnea. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to excessive tiredness during the day, high blood pressure, heart attack, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, stroke or depression.
If you are experiencing symptoms of sleep disorders, contact a health care provider to determine the best treatment for you.
At the newly renovated Sleep Center at Wilson Medical Center, we provide advanced care for a variety of sleep disorders, including the ones mentioned above. We also offer home sleep studies for your convenience (must be eligible).
Sleep disorders can often be treated with prescription medications, behavioral interventions or, in the case of sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices. There are over-the-counter medications as well, but it’s important to consult with a doctor or pharmacist before taking these.
Ask your primary care provider to contact us at 252-399-8900 for more information or to schedule a sleep study.
For more information about the importance of healthy sleeping habits, visit www.sleepfoundation.org or www.cdc.gov/sleep.
Chris Brown is the associate administrator at Wilson Medical Center.