Research has shown for years that a lack of sleep can cause more than just morning grogginess and feeling like you need to reach for that extra cup of coffee.
There are a variety of “sleep disorders”, which has become quite a broad and unspecific term for anything that affects your ability to have a decent, restful night’s sleep. Almost everyone is familiar with insomnia, which is an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. There are many “sleep hygiene” techniques possible to improve your nightly habits and sleep environment. Some people even require occasional sedatives to get proper sleep.
Another common sleep disorder is sleep apnea, which is improper breathing during sleep. It can lead to many episodes of awakening during the night, even if you don’t remember waking up. This is usually diagnosed through sleep study or bed partner observation. It can be treated through a machine to help provide air to your lungs (CPAP) or sometimes an oral device to position your jaw properly.
Some people also experience a strange sensation in their lower extremities (restless leg syndrome) that feels unpleasant enough to keep them from sleeping. This is typically treated with oral medications.
Anyone who feels like they are at risk for any of these disorders should address their concerns with their primary care provider.
So what does a lack of sleep actually do to your body? A recent NPR article outlines the effects of sleep deprivation nicely.
1. It can impair your ability to properly regulate glucose, so your risk for “pre-diabetes” can be increased even in a young, fit, healthy patient.
2. You can be 200-300x more susceptible to the virus that causes the common cold. A well-rested individual can often fight off this virus and avoid pesky upper respiratory symptoms.
3. You have less time to clear “toxins” that can lead to plaques that can cause Alzheimer’s.
4. You become more at risk for cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke.
So if you feel like you are having difficulty with your own sleeping habits, please give us a call so we can set up a time to discuss these issues!