How have you been sleeping lately? That’s a question you should routinely ask yourself, but it’s particularly apropos this week before we change our clocks ahead one hour for Daylight Savings. The occasion marks National Sleep Awareness Week, which is March 3 – 10 this year.
Not getting enough sleep is dangerous and can be fatal. A 2009 study showed that 7.3 percent of adults who averaged less than seven hours of sleep per day fell asleep behind the wheel of a motor vehicle at least once in a 30 day period.
Even people who think they may be getting enough sleep may not be getting the quality of sleep they need. This can be true of people who have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition in which a person continually stops breathing while he or she sleeps. Each time breathing stops, the person briefly awakens but is not usually aware of these interruptions in sleep. Symptoms of OSA can include snoring, excessive sleepiness, waking up with a headache and even high blood pressure. In fact, OSA often causes hypertension, which in turn causes cardiovascular problems that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
In addition to OSA, there are over 70 other sleep-related conditions that can deprive a person of the rest they need. However, it’s estimated that 95 percent of people with at least one a sleep disorder go undiagnosed. Therefore, it’s critical that you talk with your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Frequent nighttime urination
- High blood pressure
- Irritability or moodiness
- Loud, irregular snoring
- Memory loss
- Morning headaches
- Poor concentration
Based on your symptoms and health history, your doctor may prescribe a sleep study, in which your breathing, heart rate, blood oxygen level and sleep patterns will be monitored while you sleep. (Read about Noel Lloyd’s personal sleep study experience that appeared on LifeBridge Blogs earlier this year.) The study will help a sleep expert diagnose any sleep disorders you may have so that you can receive treatment, avert health dangers and start experiencing an improvement in your quality of life!
To schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained physicians and find out why LifeBridge Health is Baltimore's premier health care organization, call 410-601-WELL.