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How a Good Night's Sleep Can Lower Your Risk for Chronic Disease

(Published in The Raynham Call - April 2013)

According to Imad J. Bahhady, MD, Medical Director at Morton Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center, a good night’s sleep may be more critical to your overall health than you may think. Recent studies have suggested a link between sleep and overall health, some actually showing that poor sleep, lack of sleep, or presence of a sleep disorder may increase one’s risk for diabetes and other chronic diseases.

“Sleep is extremely important to our overall health, including weight and blood pressure control, overall daytime function and performance at work,” said Dr. Bahhady.  “Individuals with sleep disorders may be more prone to severe disease with a significant increase in mortality rates for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.”

One of the most common sleep disorders is sleep apnea, a serious condition in which one’s airway collapses during sleep, obstructing airflow.  Individuals with sleep apnea may awaken 20 to 30 times an hour, gasping for breath, completely unaware of having any difficulty.  Loud, frequent snoring is the most common symptom of sleep apnea, and often, a person with sleep apnea may not be aware of their condition until brought to their attention by a partner or family member.

Sleep apnea may also directly impact your health. “There are some reports suggesting a correlation between sleep apnea, weight increase and poor diabetic control,” said Dr. Bahhady. “Additionally, there is evidence to suggest the increase of type-2 diabetes with restless leg syndrome and short sleep.”

Another very common sleep problem is insomnia (difficult initiating or maintaining sleep), which could be caused by a number of medical and psychological conditions.  It is estimated that occasional insomnia is present in 50 percent of patients that visit their primary care doctor, and chronic insomnia in 19 percent. It could be very disruptive to one’s life and productivity, as it results in fatigue, inattention and mood disturbances, among many other problems.

What can you do to get a better night’s sleep?
1)    Avoid excessive consumption of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
2)    Exercise regularly.
3)    Maintain healthy eating habits and a healthy weight.
4)    Seek medical attention if you have excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, awakening with a sensation of choking or smothering.

“It’s important to try to get seven to eight hours of sleep on an average night,” said Dr. Bahhady. “If there is a sleep disturbance that lasts more than six weeks, one should seek medical attention, as there could be a medical condition behind it.”

Julia Edelman, MD, a Morton Hospital gynecologist and author of a sleep strategies book for women, finds that many of her adult female patients ages 18 to 81 and older have sleep challenges.  According to Dr. Edelman, sleep impacts many aspects of each individual’s health and well-being.

“In addition to increasing the risk of diabetes and obesity, poor sleep is associated with bad moods and poor memory,” said Dr. Edelman.  “Some individuals can improve their sleep quality by making lifestyle modifications or using natural remedies. Others require the input of a sleep expert like Dr. Bahhady.  If you have sleep issues, discuss them with your primary care physician.”  

Morton Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center, accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, is successful in diagnosing and treating a variety of sleep disorders. The Center offers cozy, home-like rooms for sleep studies, as well as a knowledgeable and skilled staff.

Don’t let lack of sleep or the presence of a sleep disorder deteriorate your health.  Contact our Sleep Disorders Center today at (508) 880-0713 to learn how we can help.


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