Sleep is an important part of our lives. We spend a third of our life doing it, and we suffer consequences when we do not get enough. Our lives have become busier and busier and sleep often gets left out. It seems as if it is the cushion of time that we can use to get other things done. We need to understand that sleep is just as important to our health as eating healthfully and getting enough exercise.
New studies have shown that those who do not sleep well are at an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hypertension and stroke (to name a few).
To get a sense of your sleep habits – pay attention to what your body (or sleep partner) is telling you. If you get enough hours of sleep, but are still tired and sleepy during the day you may be at risk for a potentially serious condition called sleep apnea. This condition causes the throat to collapse during sleep, requiring an awakening to open it again. These disruptions are usually very quick and many individuals do not recall them in the morning. Sleep apnea is often invisible to the person that has it, but usually not to their bed partner. This condition, though unrecognized, can rob an unaware individual of precious sleep and health.
In order to get the necessary quality sleep your body requires, it’s important to devote the time to ensuring you sleep well. In some cases, a sleep specialist may have you retrain your body to sleep better.
If you suspect that you or a family member is suffering from a sleep condition like sleep apnea, talk to your family doctor. If necessary, your physician can refer you to an accredited sleep lab or sleep disorder center near you.
For more information read: No More Sleepless Nights by Dr. Peter Hauri.
Dr. Anne Redding graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and Georgetown University Medical School. She completed her Neurology residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine and the American Board of Sleep Medicine. Dr. Redding is the medical director for the Bon Secours DePaul Sleep Center.