Sleep disorders are a real and pervasive problem in the United States, with over 25 percent of Americans reporting every year that they have some sort of sleep problems. Nearly a fifth of Americans have used medication to help them sleep, and the problem is only growing. It is vital for people to wake up to the reality of these problems so we can improve our overall physical, mental and emotional health.
Poor Sleep Habits
As Americans, we have developed extraordinarily poor sleep habits. These include reading in bed, using computers and tablets, talking on the phone, eating and watching television. When we engage in such behaviors, we train our bodies and minds that the bed is a place of recreation rather than sleep. LED screens interfere with sleep hormones and stimulate the mind into continued wakefulness. By taking these sort of distractions out of the bedroom, we develop habits that enable good sleep and help to avoid disorders like insomnia and frequent waking.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
We are also far too eager to dismiss snoring as a minor inconvenience. In truth, snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea, which is a serious condition. People who are tired during the day, who lack focus, experience mood swings or irritability, have headaches or sore throats, or who snore badly or wake up gasping for air throughout the night should see an ENT doctor to address these issues.
Sleep apnea has been associated with more serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, mood disorders and more serious illnesses. While there isn’t much evidence yet that these conditions are caused by sleep apnea, the association alone is cause for concern.
Turning to Sedatives
Many people with sleep disorders turn to sedatives, thinking that these are a simple solution to the problem. There are tons of stories about the negative effects of sedatives. These include sleep walking, late night eating binges, even driving while sleeping and having no memory of doing so the next day.
In addition, recent studies indicate that those who habitually use sedatives to sleep can be at an increased risk of death, up to three times as much as others, and can see an increased risk of cancer by more than a third. Studies have focused on specific drugs, but any sedative use on a regular basis can be problematic and should be carefully regulated by doctors.
We live in a fast-paced society where people think that they just don’t have the time for sleep studies and treatments. However, this is your health and wellness, and seeking treatment for your insomnia, sleep apnea, or other sleep disorders can mean the difference between a happy and healthy life, and serious physical and emotional issues or even early death.
If you have the symptoms of a sleep disorder and aren’t sure what to do, we can help. Read some more about sleep apnea and give us a call for a consultation today.