Importance of healthy sleeping habits emphasized during ‘National Sleep Awareness Week’

Mar. 21, 2013 @ 10:33 PM


Maria Parham Medical Center has announced that March 3-10, in an effort to encourage healthy sleeping habits across the country, was declared “National Sleep Awareness Week” by the National Sleep Foundation.

The consequences of poor sleeping habits and sleeping habits left untreated include blood pressure, increased stress, weight gain, depression, loss of motor skills and heart damage. The operation of motor vehicles and heavy machinery without adequate sleep is extremely dangerous.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists four sleep disorders common in this country:

• Insomnia — symptoms include the inability to initiate or maintain sleep, early morning awakening and excessive sleepiness throughout the day; it can impair a person’s daily functions, cause mood swings or depression, and affect heart health and weight.

• Narcolepsy — usually characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness combined with sudden muscle weakness; often occurring as “attacks” triggered by strong emotion or surprise, and can happen at any time, even during physical activity.

• Restless Leg Syndrome — this manifests as an unpleasant feeling in the lower legs, often accompanied by aches and pains.

• Sleep Apnea — causes excessive snoring periodically interrupted by gasping or snorting noises; long-term effects include high blood pressure, heart attack, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, stroke or depression.

Prescription medications and behavioral interventions can often treat these disorders. In addition, continuous positive airway pressure devices can help with sleep apnea. Dr. Ashish Singh of Henderson Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine recommends consultation with a doctor or pharmacist before trying over-the-counter medications.

The foundation also recommends incorporating healthy habits into their daily routines, such as: establishing regular times for going to bed and waking up; avoiding nicotine and alcohol completely, and caffeine around bedtime; exercising regularly, completing workouts at least 3 hours before bedtime; and creating a sleep-conducive environment (dark, quiet and comfortable).

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