The Dangers of Sleep Disorders

Part of the “Make Sleep a Priority” Series

(February 13, 2019) —”Sleep disorders.” Chances are, those words are either meaningless (if you think you’ve never had one) or ominous if you have or suspect you have a sleep disorder.

The best attitude to sleep disorders is somewhere between those two extremes: Never ignore them, but don’t panic.

Sleep disorders can cause serious problems. In the short term, lack of good quality sleep can leave you exhausted during the day and even cause accidents due to drowsy driving. Over the long term, the cumulative effects of sleep loss and sleep disorders have been linked to a variety of dangerous conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke.

Sleep disorders are really very common. About 70 percent of Americans age 20-59 have some sleeping difficulties fairy regularly, and more than 50 million have a specific sleep disorder that affects their daily life.

Yet people’s general awareness of sleep disorders is probably lower than for other serious conditions. We often make jokes about snoring, for example, without considering that it might be a sign of sleep apnea—a condition in which we briefly stop breathing many times a night that can damage our circulatory system.

There are about 80 different sleep disorders. Common ones include:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Insomnia
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
  • Narcolepsy
  • REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD)

You can learn more about these sleep disorders in “Choose to Snooze” in HealthScope Magazine, which interviewed Dr. Anuj Chandra, medical director of the Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders, about sleep disorders.

If you have symptoms of sleep disorders—such snoring, trouble sleeping, or daytime sleepiness—see your doctor or a sleep specialist, so you can find out if you have one and get the right treatment.

This article is part of “Make Sleep a Priority,” Dr. Anuj Chandra’s education program to encourage healthy sleep. For other articles, visit SleepForHealth.org. Or follow the Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders on Facebook or Twitter (@AdvancedSleep).

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