When you’re really tired, it’s little wonder that you feel sleepy. But it is a problem if it’s the middle of your workday.
Seventy million Americans are sleep-deprived, and the consequences often go beyond mere drowsiness. “People often think that nothing really happens during sleep and it’s unimportant,” says Joanna Cooper, M.D., a neurologist and sleep disorders specialist at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. “Au contraire”. The immune system, brain functions, and every organ get renewed during sleep.” As a result, chronic sleep deprivation boosts your risk of hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and possibly a score of other medical disorders. It can also affect learning and memory.
One of the most common sleeping problems is insomnia, which is more prevalent in women. Treatments range from behavioral interventions to medication, including newer medicines that are less addictive.
Also common is sleep apnea, in which breathing is intermittently impaired during sleep, causing the person to repeatedly awaken during the night. While men and people who are obese are most at risk, anyone can have sleep apnea. Treatments include weight loss, medication, and the use of various devices, most commonly one that blows air through the nose and/or mouth to assist breathing. Sometimes surgery is recommended.
For those who are short on shut-eye, regardless of the cause, Alta Bates Summit offers multidisciplinary care to help restore restful sleep. Consultations with sleep specialists and testing at a sleep lab can help diagnose more than 80 disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome.
Meanwhile, Alta Bates Summit is involved in sleep research through the auspices of the Medical Center’s Research and Education Institute. “We’re doing a study now using the Pillar ® implant, a Dacron strut that helps keep the palate from vibrating, which produces snoring, or collapsing, which can cause sleep apnea,” says Richard Kerbavaz, M.D. Sleep medicine is advancing, with many effective therapies available, he adds. If you have problems sleeping or are overly fatigued during the day, get help. Proper treatment can help get you back to catching z’s when and where you should – in your bed.