March 3-10 is National Sleep Awareness Week

Research indicates that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from some form of a sleep disorder and billions of dollars are being spent to address this problem.

March 3-10 is the National Sleep Foundation’s annual “Sleep Awareness Week.” This campaign celebrates the benefits of sleep. Most of us understand the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, especially when we experience the after effects often associated with little or no sleep; fatigue, bad mood, lack of focus, etc. However, most people don’t know that there is research that reveals lack of sleep, on a regular basis, may have long term health consequences including serious chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The National Institute of Health reports that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders and intermittent sleep problems. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine estimates that “hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on direct medical costs related to sleep disorders such as doctor visits, hospital services, prescriptions and over the counter medications.”

Michigan State University Extension says that if you think you’re suffering from a sleep disorder, you may want to consider getting a medical sleep evaluation. The National Sleep Foundation provides the following questions to help determine if your sleep should be evaluated:

  • Do you regularly have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep?
  • Do people tell you that you snore? Has anyone ever told you that you have pauses in breathing or that you gasp for breath when you sleep?
  • Are your legs “active” at night? Do you experience tingling, creeping, itching, pulling, aching or other strange feelings in your legs while sitting or lying down that cause a strong urge to move, walk or kick your legs for relief?
  • Are you so tired when you wake up in the morning that you cannot function normally during the day?
  • Does sleepiness and fatigue persist for more than two to three weeks?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you should talk with your physician to determine next steps. Your doctor may ask you to track your sleep patterns and provide a list of medications you are taking before your visit.

You can refer to the following links for more information on sleep and sleep disorders:

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