Counting Sheep?

Last Editorial Review: 10/31/2005

Everyone has trouble sleeping now and then. But chronic sleep deprivation can do more than just make you tired. It can significantly affect your health. Do you have a disorder that keeps you from getting sound sleep?

  1. Do you regularly watch the late show because you can't fall asleep? Or do you wake up during the night and can't go back to sleep? Yes or No
  1. Are you often cranky? Yes or No
  1. Do you eat spicy foods for dinner? Yes or No
  1. Are you experiencing a lot of stress in your life? Yes or No

Answers: If you answered "yes" to two or more questions, you may have a sleep disorder. Talk to your doctor. Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking too early are symptoms of insomnia. So are waking up feeling tired, fighting sleepiness at work or having little energy or patience.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • Do I have a sleeping disorder? If so, what type?
  • Could I have sleep apnea?
  • Is my insomnia caused by an underlying medical or psychiatric illness?
  • Will a sleep medication help? Should I see a sleep specialist?

Did You Know?

  • Research shows we really do need about 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
  • Sleep apnea is a primary risk factor for high blood pressure.
  • Drowsy driving is responsible for 100,000 car crashes a year.
  • CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure which is an apnea treatment that blows air into the nasal passages, forcing the airway to open.
  • Restless legs syndrome is a discomfort in the legs and feet that peaks in the evening and at night which causes urge to move to get relief.

Know Your Numbers

  • Chronic snoring affects 45% of the U.S. population.
  • 20 million Americans have sleep apnea.
  • Losing 1 1/2 hours of sleep reduces daytime alertness by 32%.
  • The American Sleep Disorders Association recognizes 85 different sleep disorders.

For more, please read the Sleep article.

WebMD the Magazine - September/October 2005
© 2005 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

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