AKRON, Ohio, March 2, 2012– Having trouble falling or staying asleep, even though you try getting the recommended seven to eight hours each night? As this week marks Sleep Awareness Week, instead of continuing to count sheep or snoring next to your partner, it may be time to assess if you are experiencing symptoms of a sleep disorder.
“Sleep is necessary for our nervous system to work properly,” said Ravi Madala, M.D., sleep medicine physician with Summa Health System and Neurology and Neuroscience Associates. “If we don’t get enough sleep, it will leave us drowsy and unable to concentrate. This can lead to long-term effects such as memory impairment and decreased performance throughout the day. Patients with sleep apnea are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes.”
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, sleep disorders affect more than 40 million adults in the United States. Often times, doctors will recommend undergoing a sleep study, or a polysomnogram, to help determine the root of the problem and proper diagnosis and treatment. Sleep studies, performed overnight at sleep centers, help monitor breathing patterns, body position, oxygen levels, snoring, heart rate, leg movements and stage of sleep.
Dr. Madala explains the three most common sleep disorders, symptoms and treatment options below.
- Symptoms: The main symptoms of insomnia are trouble falling or staying asleep or waking early, followed by a distinct feeling of fatigue the following day. Other daytime problems caused by insomnia include anxiousness, irritability, poor concentration and difficulty focusing, impaired memory, decreased motor coordination and limited social interaction.
- Treatment: Although there are different medications that can help treat insomnia, sleep hygiene – a set of lifestyle and dietary habits – can also help improve sound sleep and treat the disorder. These habits include sleeping in a comfortable bed with minimal light and noise at a comfortable temperature; avoiding nicotine, alcohol, heavy meals, afternoon caffeine and napping; keeping a consistent bedtime and wake time; getting regular morning exercise; and reserving the bedroom for sleeping only.
- Symptoms: Sleep apnea is caused by pauses in breathing throughout the night and often disrupts restful sleep. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, waking up gasping for breath, morning headaches, memory trouble, waking up with a dry mouth, and drowsiness during the day. Some individuals have bed partners that witness them stop breathing.
- Treatment: Though milder cases of sleep apnea can be treated with lifestyle changes including weight loss and smoking cessation, more moderate to severe cases may be treated with sleeping devices or surgery. For example, a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP), is a mask worn over the nose at night that helps move air into the mouth, preventing snoring and sleep apnea.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
- Symptoms: People with RLS experience an unpleasant sensation in the legs that is described as creeping, crawling, tingling, pulling and painful. Sensations occur when the person with RLS lies down or sits for long periods of time, making them stretch, bend or rub their legs for temporary relief, toss or turn in bed, and/or pace around the room.
- Treatment: Although there is no cure for RLS, people may improve sleep hygiene and lifestyle habits, take pain relievers or prescribed medication, or use a warm or cool pack to help reduce symptoms.
For more information, visit www.summahealth.org/sleep. To make an appointment for a consultation, call the Neurology and Neuroscience Associates Sleep Disorders Clinic at (330) 572-1011 or visit www.nnadoc.com.
About Summa Health System
Summa Health System is one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery systems in Ohio. Encompassing a network of hospitals, community health centers, a health plan, a physician-hospital organization, a multi-specialty physician organization, research and multiple foundations, Summa is nationally renowned for excellence in patient care and for exceptional approaches to healthcare delivery. Summa's clinical services are consistently recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (Magnet status), U.S. News and World Report, Thomson Reuters and The Leapfrog Group. Summa also is a founding partner of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. For more information, visit www.summahealth.org or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/summahealth and Twitter at www.twitter.com/summahealth.