icyou's medical editor, Mona Khanna, MD, MPH, talks about sleep disorders.
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Dr. P. Mona Khanna: How can you tell if you are getting enough sleep at night? Two questions you should definitely ask yourself to find out if you are getting enough sleep for your body. The first is, do you feel about refresh at the beginning of the day, and ready to go, and the second is, do you fall as sleep, during the day? If you answer those questions and those answers to those questions are no and yes, then you are not getting enough sleep. What can cause you not to feel about refreshed in the morning? If you didn't get the restorative sleep, you need we all we need sleep for our body, so our body's can shut down, process everything that we are on during the day, and get themselves primed for the next day. So if you don't feel restored, that's a bad sign. What is sleep apnea? Now there is two kinds of sleep apnea, obstructive and central, and the most common kind of obstructive. Risk factors for developing sleep apnea are men, if you are over weight or if you have a lot of soft tissue in this area. And what happens is that, when you sleep, when you lie down at night, sometimes your body shuts off in the sense that you stopped taking a breath. When you stop taking a breath then your brain is deprived of oxygen. And after about minute or so, you may wake up and you don't know where you are and what happened or what you did and not realize that your body has made itself wake up, because it wants you to take breath and get that oxygen back. So, that's called sleep apnea, and there are the risk factors for it and it can cause excessive sleepiness in during the day. The good news is, we can treat sleep apnea. We can treat it with certain devices that actually force air, but the best way to treat to sleep apnea really if you are overweight, is to lose weight. And we find that, that helps especially men who are over weight, who have the bad kind of weight, that fat in the middle. Once they loose that weight, then they stop having problems with sleep apnea. Another hallmark of sleep apnea is snoring. Not everybody who has sleep apnea snores. Not everybody who snores has sleep apnea. but most patients, most patients you have sleep apnea do snore and that's one of the signs that you may have it. How are sleeping disorders diagnosed? Sleeping disorders are very, very easily diagnosed and they are diagnosed to what we call a sleep study. We are at night, you are going to go to the hospital and you sleep there overnight in their laboratory. They will hook up electrodes to your head, and they will study your brain wave patterns throughout the night. They will be able to see and to correlate brain wave patterns with your breathing. And that's how they are able to tell if somebody has sleep apnea. Or any other sleeping disorders, just by looking at the brain wave patterns. Is good sleep important to good health? When people ask me, what they should do to maintain their health and to improve their health. The number one thing, I think is get enough sleep. We live very, very stressful lives. We live fast food lives and unfortunately sleep is often shortchanged. It's a thing we think about the least. It's the thing that really gets short drifted when we have additional responsibilities heaped upon us, like child care, like taking care of elderly parents and so forth and so on. But sleep is the single most important thing I think that you can do for your health status.