Sleep Awareness Week
By Monal Patel – Assistant Outreach CoordinatorDid you know that last week (March 7-13) was National Sleep Awareness Week? Have you ever asked the question, How much sleep is enough for my body? According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep needs vary among individuals. In general, most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten hours. And, contrary to common myth, the need for sleep doesn’t decline with age (although the ability to get it all at one time may be reduced).
Sleep is vital to our health and well being and sleeping problems that are recurring could make our daily life more stressful. Stress is considered by most sleep experts to be the No. 1 cause of short-term sleeping difficulties. Common triggers include school-or job-related pressures, a family or marriage problem, and a serious illness or death in the family. Usually the sleep problem disappears when the stressful situation passes.
Here are some tips for sleeping smart:
1. Establish a regular bed and wake time
2. Avoid nicotine altogether and avoid caffeine close to bedtime
3. Avoid alcohol
4. Exercise regularly (but complete the workout at least 3 hours before bedtime)
5. Establish a consistent relaxing “wind-down” bedtime routine
6. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet and comfortable
7. Discuss the appropriate way to take any sleep aid with a healthcare professional
If your sleeping problem recurs or persists for longer than one week, you should consult with a physician. You might be suffering from sleep apnea, which is defined as sleeping without breath. Sleep apnea is very common, as common as adult diabetes, and affects more than twelve million Americans, according to the National Institute of Health. Some risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age of forty, but sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, even children. Fortunately, sleep apnea can be diagnosed and treated with the right help.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is considered the “gold standard” of treatment for patients with sleep apnea and is usually the first choice prescribed by sleep centers. During this treatment, the patient must wear a specially designed mask that uses pressure to send air flowing through the nasal passages. The influx of air keeps the throat from collapsing during sleep and allows the patient to breathe freely without worry of episodes of nonbreathing. The CPAP unit must be prescribed to you by a physician, and the company that the CPAP unit is ordered from will provide the initial introduction. The CPAP unit is usually covered by most insurance because sleep apnea has been linked to serious problems. Thus, it is in your insurance company’s best interest to cover this preventative therapy. For any on-going assistance with the CPAP unit, you could contact a local home care agency and they will send a nurse to assist you. For instance, many nurses from Home Care of Rochester provide follow-up teaching and education on using the device, and can answer any questions that you may have.
posted on March 15, 2010
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