Touro Infirmary

FALL 2013

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H E A L T H Y L I V I N G (continued from page 23) "This includes exercise or caffeine too close to bedtime, smoking, or too much technology in the bedroom." Obesity, depression and anxiety are also common contributors to insomnia. Waking in the night may be caused by a spouse's snoring, restless leg syndrome or, for women who are postmenopausal, hot flashes. If you are experiencing chronic insomnia, discuss it with your primary care physician, who can recommend a number of ways to improve sleep hygiene. Your doctor can also prescribe safe and effective medications on a short-term basis, or may suggest cognitive or behavioral therapy or lifestyle changes, including losing weight and quitting smoking. POOR QUALITY SLEEP Insomnia is unpleasant, but the other side of the not-sleeping coin can be deadly. Sleep apnea—when a person stops and starts breathing during sleep—is a much bigger worry for physicians than any other sleep disorder. "Sleep apnea is a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes," says Dr. Pagel. "People aren't necessarily referred to sleep labs for insomnia; it's out of the concern that there is a more serious problem." Up to a third of the patients in a primary care general practice have sleep apnea, Dr. Pagel estimates. In fact, sleep apnea is becoming so widely recognized as being closely linked to heart disease that many cardiologists routinely include a sleep study in their initial patient workups. The condition is also becoming more common as the population gets heavier, as obesity is a major risk factor. High blood pressure, diabetes, use of pain medication and a family history of the disorder have also been linked to sleep apnea. If you think you or a loved one may suffer from sleep apnea, even in the apparent absence of other conditions, get a medical evaluation as soon as possible to help rule out more serious health problems. WHAT YOU CAN DO It's hard to make up for not getting a good night's sleep, says Dr. Cousin. Many people reach for coffee, soda or chocolate, but that can become a vicious cycle of using caffeine to temporarily wake up and then being kept Sleepapnea SYMPTOMS 4 TIPS for getting better shut-eye 1.Maintainahealthyweight. 2.Avoidstimulantslatein theday. 3.Keepyourbedroom comfortableandfreeof distractionssuchasTVor computerscreens. 4.Exerciseregularly,asearly inthedayaspossible. awake by the stimulant. Instead, she recommends that you get up and move around when your energy starts to flag during the day. "Our circadian rhythm would like us to take a nap when we hit that afternoon dip," she says. "Since we can't, the common reaction is to eat something, which doesn't help and can add to weight issues. What may actually help is a burst of exercise, a quick walk or even just a couple of jogs up and down the stairs." • Manypeoplesufferfromsleepapneaanddon'trealizeit. Keysignstowatchforinclude: • Feelinglikesleepisnotas restfulasitoncewas.Thisis oftenattributedto"justgettingolder,"saysDr.Hitendra K.PatelatWellStarHealth SysteminMarietta,Ga., butincreasedagedoesn't alwaysequalpoorsleep. • Beingtoldyousnore particularlyloudly,make unusualnoisesorpause inyourbreathing • Daytimesleepiness;not feelingrestedandfeelingsleepyattimesyou shouldn'tbesleepy • Changesinlibidoor personality • Notbeingableto"catch up."Ifyougetmoresleep ontheweekendsbutitstill doesn'thelp,theproblem isprobablythequalityof sleep,notthequantity. SHUTTERSTOCK 24 SPI RIT O F WOM EN FA L L 2 013 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m

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