Sleep disorders can lead to serious health problems
COLUMBIA - More than one in three Americans suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, according to researchers at the University of Missouri University Hospital's Sleep Disorders Center.
The lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems. If you feel like you are sleeping plenty of hours, but still not feeling well rested, you may have a sleep disorder. A common disorder is sleep apnea.
Dr. Munish Goyal works at the Sleep Disorders Center, and he said as many as 20 percent of middle-aged men have it. The percentage is a little lower in women, but many people don't even know they have it.
"I really didn't think I had an issue," said sleep apnea patient Sharon Morris. "I knew that I didn't sleep as well as I did when I was younger, but I thought it was just because of age."
Goyal said people should be more aware of the risks of sleep apnea.
"Untreated sleep apnea is a risk factor for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, memory problems, depression and several other medical disorders," he said.
Goyal says the best treatment is a mask called a C-PAP that helps the patient breathe better while they sleep. While many of his patients are hesitant to use it, Morris said she is glad she gave it a try.
"I wake up, and I'm a lot more alert. I don't feel like I didn't get any sleep. Before I felt like I was as tired when I got up as I was when I went to bed," Morris said.
Some warning signs you have sleep apnea include loud snoring or snorting, pauses in breathing and waking up gasping for air.
There are other types of sleep disorders like narcalepsy and insomnia. If you are concerned about your sleep, bring it up with your doctor or contact the Sleep Disorder Center.
Dr. Goyal said for those who do not have a more serious disorder, like sleep apnea, one of the best ways to get more and better sleep at night is get rid of screens in the bedroom like TVs, computers, tablets and smart phones. If you have to have your phone by you, he suggested putting it on silent or do not disturb and putting it facedown to minimize any light that might come from the screen.