What is sleep?
Sleep is a dynamic process where neurotransmitters and hormones in your brain turn the “switch off” in order to support a healthy brain function and maintain physical health. During sleep, your body goes through physical restoration and cleaning of brain metabolites. This process in humans is normal, reversible and characterized by reduced responsiveness to external stimulation. Other benefits of good sleep are mood regulation, strengthening of the immune system, and information processing involved in short and long term memory. Sleep is considered part of the “Life’s Essential 8” for optimal cardiovascular health by the American Heart Association and is among the most important processes to support a long lasting healthy life.
Why do we need good sleep?
Sleep is essential to short term and long-term health. In the short term, sleep interruptions or lack of sleep can lead to lack of alertness and poor daytime functioning. These symptoms can put you at risk for injury as well as prevent you from performing well at the aspects of life that matter the most, such as learning, memorizing information, working effectively, having good school performance and being able to stay alert to enjoy time with friends or family. In the long term, poor sleep can lead to heart, lung and brain problems such as high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, memory loss and stroke. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to increased likelihood of body inflammation, obesity and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Learn more at: sleepisgoodmedicine.com
What is a sleep-wake disorder?
A sleep-wake disorder entails having problems with quality of sleep, dysfunctional sleep timing and/or inadequate amount of sleep which can cause the individual daytime distress and impairment of normal functioning. Sleep disorders can often be related to other medical or mental health conditions. Sleep disorders are very common and treatable but ironically go underdiagnosed for many years prior to adequate treatment. Sleep specialists and societies all over the world believe that a large part of the population goes untreated largely because most symptoms happen during unconsciousness or are not noticed by bed partners.
How do I know if I have a sleep disorder?
Most patients have a really hard time being able to know if there is a sleep problem present. This is because most of the symptoms are progressive and not always noticeable. We believe that this happens due to the patients being asleep when signs are evident or because the symptoms are overcompensated with stimulation such as caffeine, stimulants or excessive napping . Usually identifying if you have a sleep disorder is the most limiting factor on seeking help early. The most common ways of identifying risks or symptoms of a sleep disorder are:
- excessive daytime sleepiness
- difficulty staying awake during daytime activities
- being sleepy while driving
- memory loss
- reduction of productivity
- low energy or fatigue
- snoring or stopping breathing (reported by bed partner)
- restlessness during sleep
- frequent problems falling asleep
- waking up multiple times per night
- short sleep time per night
- jerking or legs acting out when trying to sleep
- frequent agitating dreams
- abnormal sleep-wake times
- early morning headaches
- unexplained mood disorders
Learn more at: sleepeducation.org
How do I get help?
We believe that the first step is asking family members, friends or your bed partner if there are any abnormal symptoms during sleep such as snoring, gasps, pauses in breathing, agitating dreams, continuous leg movements, sleep walking, sleep talking or any other abnormal behaviors. Also being a conscious reporter of your daytime symptoms and how you feel while doing your daytime activities is an important part of the puzzle. If any suggestive symptoms are present, talk with your primary medical provider about your symptoms. Your primary care provider can direct you towards a sleep medicine specialist in your area or within your insurance network. You can also contact our office directly to schedule a consultation if desired.
Do I need a sleep medicine consultation or a sleep study?
A sleep medicine consultation is not mandatory but is highly recommended before planning a sleep study especially if there is history of other more complex medical conditions. In most cases, a consultation is advised because not all sleep problems require a sleep study and there are various types of sleep studies depending on your medical needs. The sleep medicine specialist will be able to get a detailed history and do a limited physical examination before deciding if you would need a sleep study and which type is more appropriate for you.
Sonoma Medical Center
369 Perkins Street
Sonoma CA 95476