Do you get enough sleep at night? With our fast-paced modern world, chances are getting 8 hours of rest isn't the biggest priority. Sleep is the one thing everyone wants but just can't seem to get enough of.
"People have difficulty imagining how lack of sleep can affect them but sleeping six hours a night for 14 days is equivalent to not sleeping at all for 48 hours." Said Dr. Fady Jamous, a pulmonologist with Avera Medical Group Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine.
For many people their busy lifestyle is to blame for lack of sleep, for others it's a deeper issue.
"Sleep disorders are a large family of problems that include things like insomnia, abnormal behavior at night like sleep talking or sleepwalking, but the majority of sleep disorders we see are related to breathing problems at night." Said Dr. Jamous.
Probably the most common of these disorders is obstructive sleep apnea. This is where a person actually stops breathing, several times throughout the night.
"If you quit breathing more than five times an hour and that gives a diagnosis of sleep apnea." Said Dr. Jamous.
These pauses, or apneas, are caused by the airway collapsing which in turn causes loud snoring. It may sound scary that a person can actually stop breathing while they sleep, but your body will always wake you up when it needs a breath. The real danger is what can happen if you let the condition go untreated.
"Sleep apnea is when your body starts to feel the stress and that's when you start developing high blood pressure, sometimes rhythm problems in the heart, and sometimes even strokes and heart failure." Said Dr. Jamous.
Without oxygen your brain and body are suffering every night. So if you wake up with headaches, or are fighting to stay awake throughout the day, or maybe your partner has complained about your snoring, you may want to schedule a sleep study.
Because it's a respiratory issue, smoking is a contributing factor, but being overweight can also put extra strain on your sleep habits.
"If you're obese meaning your weight is higher than a BMI of 30 there's a fairly good chance that you do have underlying sleep disorders or disturbances and we would recommend to be evaluated." Said Dr. Jamous.
Knowing is half the battle, and getting a good night's rest is as easy as wearing a CPAP mask. It may seem strange having to sleep with a mask on but this device uses pressure to keep your airway open. So you can fall into and remain in a deep and healthy sleep.
"We don't know why we need sleep but we know what happens if we don't sleep." Said Dr. Jamous.
Sleep apnea affects an estimated 18 million people in the United States alone. Many may not realize they have the condition which is why it's all the more important to get checked out. For more information about sleep apnea just call 877-AT-AVERA.