Sleep can often be a barometer of your overall health. In many cases, people in good health tend to sleep well, whereas repeated sleeping problems may indicate an underlying medical or mental health problem, be it minor or serious. Sleeping well is essential to your physical health and emotional well-being. Unfortunately, even minimal sleep loss can take a toll on your mood, energy, efficiency, and ability to handle stress. Ignoring sleep problems and disorders can lead to poor health, accidents, impaired job performance, and relationship stress. If you want to feel your best, stay healthy, and perform up to your potential, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.
It is estimated that over 50 million American adults experience sleep disorders and intermittent sleep disruptions and 18 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could be suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, resulting in a decrease of oxygen to the brain. This leads to frequent awakening during the night. This continuous disruption of sleep can lead to high blood pressure, mood and memory problems, decreased concentration and, in severe cases, stroke or heart attack.
Your first step in determining if you have a sleep issue should begin by visiting with your physician, who will determine if you need to be referred for an overnight sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram. If a sleep study is recommended, you should plan on spending the night in the hospital (or daytime if you work overnight). Several non-invasive and painless monitors are attached, which evaluate various measurements including brain wave activity, breathing, oxygen level, leg movements and heart rhythms. A sleep technologist will be watching your activity during the sleep study and recording data. This data is tabulated and presented to a sleep specialist for their interpretation and a report is sent to your physician within a week following the study.
For additional information on sleep disorders, visit the National Sleep Foundation at http://www.sleepfoundation.org/. If you have questions or would like more information about sleep disorders, please contact your healthcare provider.