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June 21, 2011 > Are You Having Trouble Sleeping?

Are You Having Trouble Sleeping?

Learn About Sleep Disorders at Upcoming Seminar

Spending eight hours in bed won't do much good if your slumber is fitful. Various sleep disorders can disrupt the sleep cycle and diminish the quality of your sleep.

"Chronic sleep disruption can adversely affect your health in many ways," says Dr. Nitun Verma, medical director of the Washington Township Center for Sleep Disorders in Fremont. "For example, people with diabetes are likely to become more insulin-resistant with a lack of sleep. Poor sleep also affects the hormones regulating appetite, making it difficult to lose weight. Lack of quality sleep also can contribute to high blood pressure and heart problems."

To help people in the community learn about the latest treatment options for sleeping problems, Washington Hospital is sponsoring a free seminar featuring Dr. Verma, on Tuesday, June 28 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The seminar will be held in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium located at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West) in Fremont. To register for the seminar, visit www.whhs.com.

"Most of the patients I see have been suffering for some time and may have even seen their primary care doctors first," he says. "My approach to treatment starts with explaining the mechanics of disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea and then tailoring a treatment plan to fit their particular needs. Some patients with sleep apnea might benefit from using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device that delivers a flow of air into the airway through a specially designed facial mask."

Since there are more than 200 types of sleep disorders that have been diagnosed, Dr. Verma continues to research innovative ways to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for each patient.

"New ideas and concepts on how to treat sleep disorders are constantly evolving and the upcoming seminar is a great opportunity for me to share this information with the community," Dr. Verma says. "For example, we offer cognitive behavioral therapy to help overcome insomnia in people who would like to sleep better without taking medications. We can determine the best treatments to address patients' specific causes of sleep apnea and other sleep disorders to help restore their ability to get a good night's sleep."

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that recent surveys show the average adult now sleeps less than seven hours a night, and that many people mistakenly believe that people can learn to get by on less than six hours a night. But adequate sleep is just as vital to your health and well being as good nutrition and physical activity.

"There is no 'one-size-fits all' when it comes to how much sleep people need each night to be well rested, but most adults need between seven and nine hours," says Dr. Verma. "Unfortunately, the hectic pace of today's world means people are cutting back on sleep to fit in extra work hours and other activities. People in the Bay Area, specifically, don't get enough sleep. We're simply overscheduled with work, a busy home and family life and a multitude of social activities."

That hectic pace also means people have more stress in their lives and are often too wound up when it is time to sleep.

"When you're under stress, your brain is like a race car with no brake pedal - you can't force yourself to sleep," Dr. Verma says. "Give yourself time to relax before it's time for bed."

Quality Counts as Much as Quantity

"One way to evaluate the quality of your sleep is to ask your bed partner, if you have one, to describe your sleep patterns," Dr. Verma suggests. "Do you toss and turn all night? Do you wake up frequently? Are you grinding your teeth in your sleep? Do you have to get up to go to the bathroom several times a night? Do you snore or stop breathing? All of these behaviors are signs that you're not sleeping deeply enough."

The NIH estimates about 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, with millions more experience sleep disorders on occasion. The most common sleep disorders include:
* Insomnia - The inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
* Sleep apnea - A reduction or pause in breathing during sleep - often accompanied by loud snoring - that disrupts the person's sleep several times a night.
* Restless leg syndrome - Uncomfortable sensations in the lower legs and an uncontrollable desire to move the legs, usually occurring shortly after going to bed.
* Narcolepsy - A disease of the central nervous system that results in excessive daytime sleepiness and other symptoms such as disturbed nocturnal sleep.

Sometimes sleep disorders are resolved on their own, such as insomnia related to a stressful life situation. When a sleep problem persists, however, it's good to consult a sleep specialist.


Learn More

The Washington Township Center for Sleep Disorders has been accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) since 2009 and the facility is one of only two accredited sleep labs located between Oakland and Sunnyvale. To learn more about sleep disorders, come to the free seminar on June 28 or visit www.whhs.com/sleep for more information.

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