Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tired of Counting Sheep?

Sleep Lab helps patients get their zzzzzz

Jim Lavelle was tired. He went to bed every night and slept, but he was exhausted for almost the entire next day. Unbeknown to Lavelle, his problem wasn’t a lack of sleep, it was the lack of quality sleep. Tired of being tired, the Fredericksburg resident scheduled a sleep study at Sentara Potomac Hospital’s Sleep Lab.

“Sleep is imperative to good health,” says pulmonologist Richard Robinson, M.D., who, along with Mark Clinton, M.D., is the medical director of the Sleep Lab at Sentara Potomac. “When people don’t sleep well it affects their physical health, mental health, productivity, their jobs and their relationships. Sleep seems so natural and simple, but the hectic lives that many people live cause many serious sleep problems.”

Most sleep loss is due to poor sleep habits and stress. However, millions of people suffer from undiagnosed sleep disorders including sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy.

“Snoring was my main problem,” says Lavelle. “But my wife also told me that I would stop breathing in the middle of the night. It was determined that my snoring is causing sleep apnea and my extreme fatigue.”

“There are several treatments that we use to help patients get back on track to better sleep,” says Dr. Robinson. “If you’re experiencing extreme fatigue, loss of concentration, dozing off during the day or feeling depressed, you may want to have a sleep study.”

If you think you may have a sleep disorder, make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will discuss your concerns with you and determine if you need overnight evaluation at the Sleep Lab.

Fast facts about sleep deprivation

• More than 1,500 people die every year in sleep-related crashes on the roadways.
• Sleep loss costs U.S. employers tens of billions of dollars a year in lost productivity.
• Stress and worry are leading causes of insomnia.
• The large majority of people with sleep disorders are undiagnosed and untreated.
• Sleep problems are associated with many negative health consequences such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, heart disease, stroke and at-risk behaviors.
• Avoiding caffeine close to bedtime, avoiding alcohol, exercising regularly, establishing a regular, relaxing bedtime routine, and making sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, cool and comfortable can help you get better quality sleep.

Source: National Sleep Foundation