According to the National Institutes of Health, at least 40 million Americans suffer from some type of long-term sleep disorder, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems. While there are more than 70 different sleep disorders, the most common are: insomnia, difficulty falling or staying asleep; sleep apnea, interrupted breathing during sleep; restless legs syndrome, unpleasant tingling or prickling sensations in the legs and feet; and narcolepsy, sudden periods of sleep during the day.
“Sleep disorders or simply not getting enough sleep for several nights in a row can decrease a person’s ability to concentrate, slow reaction times, interfere with learning, and hinder performance,” says Neeta Singla, MD, pulmonologist on the medical staff at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital. “Inadequate sleep also may contribute to memory lapses, increase the likelihood of accidents and injuries, cause behavior problems, and elevate the risk of having high blood pressure or heart disease.”
The amount of sleep a person needs depends on the individual. Infants tend to sleep approximately 16 hours a day and young children need 10 to 12 hours daily. School-age children and teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep each night, while seven to eight hours usually is sufficient for adults. Someone who is not getting enough sleep due to a sleep disorder may display the following symptoms:
· Taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep each night.
· Waking up several times each night or waking up too early in the morning.
· Feeling sleepy, taking naps, or falling asleep at inappropriate times during the day.
· Snoring or making gasping or choking sounds while asleep.
· Making jerky leg or arm movements when sleeping.
· Creeping or crawling sensations in the legs and feet that are relieved by movement or massage.
· Difficulty moving when first waking up.
“People with symptoms of a sleep disorder should see a doctor because there are treatments available to help them get a good night’s rest,” says Dr. Singla. “Skimping on sleep is just not good for you in the long run. Adequate sleep every night allows you to maintain good health and function at your best.”
Dr. Singla offers the following tips to wake up feeling well rested and energetic for the next day.
· Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
· Exercise five to six hours before bedtime.
· Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before going to bed.
· Don’t take a nap after 3 p.m.
· Relax or take a hot shower before going to bed.
· Have a soothing sleep environment with a comfortable bed, cool room temperature, and no distractions, such as a television or computer.
For more information about sleep disorders, talk with your doctor or call Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital’s complimentary physician referral line at 1-800-681-2733 to find a physician near you. Information about the hospital’s Sleep Medicine Center is available at www.CyFairHospital.com/SleepCenter.