February 25, 2009
MAURY REGIONAL WARNS THAT SLEEP DISORDERS CAN LEAD TO MORE SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS
COLUMBIA, Tenn.— According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine more than 70 million Americans are affected by a sleep disorder. Many are undiagnosed, which can lead to serious health risks.
“Having a sleep disorder doesn’t just mean that you lack energy or feel constantly tired,” said Dr. Lucy Ledbetter, a neurologist and medical director for the sleep lab at Maury Regional Medical Center. “Many sleep disorders can lead to very serious health conditions if left untreated, including heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, glaucoma, and many others. Severe cases may even result in death as in the case of pro football player Reggie White whose sleep apnea is believed to have contributed to his death from cardiac arrhythmia at the age of 43.”
While there are more than 80 documented sleep disorders, the most common are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) - OSA is a sleep related breathing disorder that causes the body to stop breathing during sleep. OSA occurs when the tissue in the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway. This keeps air from getting in to the lungs.
- Insomnia - There are four basic kinds of insomnia characterized by difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking up too early, and poor quality sleep.
- Narcolepsy - The term narcolepsy is used to describe a group of people affected by excessive sleepiness. It also includes features of dreaming that occur while awake. While short naps may help, narcoleptics will feel sleepy again in two or three hours. At times, people with narcolepsy can fall asleep suddenly.
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS) - RLS is when one has a strong urge to move his/her legs. This urge to move is made worse by rest, which makes it difficult to sleep. People with severe RLS may get less than five hours of sleep each night. This total sleep time is lower than with almost any other sleep disorder and those who suffer are also more likely to experience depression or anxiety.
The most effective way to diagnose a sleep disorder is to undergo a sleep study. During a study, the patient is monitored with devices that record heart rate, snoring, airflow, oxygen levels, blood pressure, brain waves and movement in the muscles and eyes. Sleep study data is interpreted by a physician.
National Sleep Awareness Week®, which takes place March 1-8, 2009, is a public education, information, and awareness campaign that coincides with the return of Daylight Saving Time, the annual "springing forward" of clocks that can cause Americans to lose an hour of sleep.