Health Watch: Why Sleep Disorders Can Be Problematic

Many people – both adults and children – suffer from sleep disorders, but don’t even realize it. However, if undiagnosed or untreated, sleep disorders can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, depression or diabetes. It can also make any preexisting psychological condition worse.

If you regularly experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or daytime drowsiness, talk to your doctor to see if you qualify for a sleep study. SLUCare’s sleep medicine specialists at the Sleep Disorders Center can help.

Dr. Joseph Espiritu, SLUCare pulmonlogist and director of the sleep disorders center says, "If you're not able to sleep, you're not able to function. You won't be able to think well, concentrate at work, and your performance and social functioning will also be impaired."

Sleep disorders are more common than people realize. In fact, 50 to 70 million Americans (adults and children) suffer from some type of sleep disorder, including obstructive sleep apnea; insomnia; restless legs syndrome; narcolepsy; circadian rhythm disorder (shift work disorder); excessive daytime sleepiness; sleepwalking to name a few.

Many different factors contribute to sleep disorders: breathing problems, psychological problems, physical discomfort and shift work.

Sleep apnea is one of the most prevalent sleep disorders. Sleep apnea symptoms include chronic snoring, waking up abruptly to the sensation of choking or gasping, excessive daytime sleepiness, insomnia, awakening with a dry throat, morning headaches, and irritability.

Sleep disorders like sleep apnea and are linked to a number of chronic health conditions, including heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, thyroid problems, arthritis, allergies, weakened immune system, GI reflux, hormonal fluctuations, to name a few. Insufficient sleep makes almost every psychological problem worse – depression, ADHD, autism, etc. It’s not just quantity of sleep that’s the issue, but quality of sleep, too.

An undiagnosed and/or untreated sleep disorder can drastically affect your quality of life by putting you at a greater risk for one of the illnesses outlined above; reducing your daytime productivity; increasing your risk of accidents; and even resulting in a shorter lifespan.

SLUCare has a team of sleep medicine doctors from different specialties to evaluate your symptoms and offer the right treatment for your needs.  To learn more about the SLUCare Sleep Disorders Clinic, click here.

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