Friday, March 20, 2015

Inadequate sleep linked to numerous health risks

While many people found themselves feeling groggy the day after Daylight Saving Time, imagine if every day you felt like you just set your clocks forward an hour. For people suffering from a sleep disorder, every day can feel like that first Monday.

March has been designated National Sleep Awareness Month and a good time to consider if you are consistently getting a good night’s rest or if you could be suffering from a sleep disorder.

“It is important that patients tell their primary care physician of any changes in their sleep patterns, history of tiredness during the day or of any concerns raised by a bed partner, such as loud snoring or gasping,” says Dr. David Afshar, a physician at CoxHealth Family Medicine and Obstetrics in Branson. “An evaluation of a patient’s sleep pattern can help determine if additional testing at a CoxHealth Sleep Disorders Center is needed.”

“Adequate sleep is essential to good health,” says Dr. Jennifer Lynch, a CoxHealth neurologist who specializes in sleep medicine. “Sleep deprivation is associated with a numerous chronic diseases and conditions, including high blood pressure, increased stress hormone levels, increased risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and more. Sleep loss can also aggravate or mimic many other more subjective conditions, such as chronic pain, memory impairment, mood and energy. Many people feel that they have depression, fibromyalgia, headaches or dementia and treating a sleep disorder can lead to improvements in all of these areas.”

Lack of sleep is also a safety concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cognitive impairment after approximately 18 hours awake is similar to that of someone with a blood-alcohol content of 0.05%. After about 24 hours awake, impairment is equivalent to a BAC of 0.10%, higher than the legal limit in all states.

“If you feel like you are not consistently getting a restorative night’s sleep, you should talk to your doctor,” Dr. Lynch says. “Treatment of a sleep disorder can significantly improve a patient’s life.”
CoxHealth Sleep Disorders Centers are located in Springfield, Branson and Monett. Sleep related problems include insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, REM sleep disorders, sleep terrors, sleep enuresis, sleep walking and sleep talking. A referral by a family physician is necessary.

For more information about CoxHealth Sleep Disorders Centers or to take a sleep quiz quiz, visit and search “sleep disorders.”