Don’t Ignore the Importance of Sleep

Dr. David Goldstein cropBy: David Goldstein, M.D.

During March 6-13, we are recognizing Sleep Awareness Week and the role that healthy sleep can play in your life. Sleep is vital to good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental and physical health, quality of life, and safety.

The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development. The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant, like falling asleep behind the wheel, or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.

Sometimes, a bed partner complaining of loud snoring can trigger a deeper investigation into sleep disorders. Doctors will then ask if your bed partner witnesses you stop breathing or a choking/gasping sensation while sleeping, if you are constantly tired during the day, or if you have a hard time going to sleep or staying asleep. Answering yes to any of these could indicate a possible sleep disorder. Other indicators for sleep disorders include conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. If any of these indicators are present, then your doctor may recommend a sleep study.

There are several types of sleep studies, depending on your symptoms and other complications, your study may be performed at home or at the center. But in most cases, a sleep technologist will greet you and move you to a comfortable, hotel-like room for your study. A parent always stays with their child overnight during a child’s sleep study. The technologist will record vital signs with a series of electrode patches to the head, face and body. While you sleep, these sensors will record brain waves, oxygen level in your blood, heart rate and breathing as well as eye and leg movements

After your sleep study, the sensors will be removed and you can go home while the results are reviewed. Your medical history, sleep history, and the test results will help your sleep specialist make a diagnosis. Then your doctor, nurse, or sleep specialist will explain the test results and work with you to develop a treatment plan. There are devices such as CPAP, medications, and lifestyle changes that can help you get the sleep you need. There’s no reason to live with a sleep disorder. Imagine waking refreshed and ready to face a new day!

If you think you may have a sleep disorder, schedule an appointment with your doctor and ask for a referral to an accredited sleep medicine center. You can also learn more by attending our free “Getting a Good Night’s Rest” education seminar March 15, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., in Suite 420, 2 Hospital Plaza, in Old Bridge, NJ. Registration is required, call 1-800-DOCTORS.

Dr. Goldstein is medical director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Raritan Bay Medical Center – Old Bridge, a member of the Hackensack Meridian Health family. The state-of-the-art diagnostic center provides the highest quality care for adults and children under the direction of board certified sleep physicians. To schedule a consultation, call 732-360-4255, or take the sleep quiz at www.rbmc.org/sleep-center to see if you could benefit from a sleep study.

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