News | Published March 8, 2013 | Written by John Solic, MD, sleep medicine, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Wake up to the fact that good sleep is vital to your health!

How well are you sleeping? Are you interrupting your spouse’s slumber with your snoring? How do you feel when you wake up? Refreshed and ready to go, or do you have a headache? Maybe you get drowsy during the day. And did you fall asleep during that meeting because it was boring or because you didn’t sleep much the night before?

All of these questions and observations are important to judge how well you are sleeping. March 3-11 is Sleep Awareness Week. What better time to take stock of your sleeping habits?

One very common sleep problem is sleep apnea—not breathing during sleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) means that you may stop breathing for short periods of time  even when you are trying to breathe, there may be little or no airflow into the lungs. And these apneas can cause a person to wake up from a sound sleep. It’s actually a dangerous condition and should be treated.

There are several reasons why OSA is a dangerous condition. First of all, lack of sleep can cause a person to fall asleep while driving, which can result in car accidents. Also, periods of stopped breathing can, with time, cause high blood pressure or hypertension, heart disease, stroke and even early death.

OSA is more common in men than women. But women after menopause and people who are over the age of 65 are also at risk. People who are overweight are more likely to develop sleep apnea.

The type of treatment recommended by your physician will depend on the reason for, and the severity of the problem. If the problem is caused by being overweight, weight loss may get rid of the problem completely. Losing the weight can often be difficult. There are some other measures to help, one being the CPAP.

The CPAP is a device that delivers continuous positive airway pressure. CPAP is delivered by a compressor that blows air into a mask that is worn snugly over the nose and/or mouth during sleep. 

There are a number of clues to let you know if you may have OSA. Some of them are best known by your spouse, family member or close friend: Snoring. Snoring that is loud and bothers other people trying to sleep near you. Also, gasping or choking sounds. Restlessness and frequent awakenings is another clue.

Test yourself with these questions. Do you:

  • Feel fatigued throughout the day?
  • Have problems with poor memory or inability to concentrate?
  • Have a dry or sore throat in the morning from breathing through your mouth during sleep?
  • Have a morning headache?

There is hope and there is help. Talk to your primary care physician and make an appointment at the Sieg Neuroscience Center. The center, located at 2121 Old Gatesburg Rd. offers a combination of diagnosis and treatment for sleeping disorders, as well as for other conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system. 

To make an appointment at the Sieg Neuroscience Center please call 814.231.7277.