Equipping Yourself for Good Sleep
Just like with diet and exercise, we have to prioritize sleep to be healthy.
But a wide range of conditions can interfere with good rest, making our goals of living better nearly impossible. We might cut down on caffeine, eliminate screen-time before we go to bed, yet still find a nice night’s slumber elusive.
Report your sleep problems to your primary care physician or provider, because a sleep-related health condition could be the reason for your lack of ZZZs.
“Those issues can be addressed, and you can get the rest you need with a team approach,” said Patrice Jerke, RRT, Avera Home Medical Equipment Regional Clinical Manager.
Common conditions such as insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and restless-leg syndrome all have solutions.
“There are a number of signs that are obvious, such as fatigue or headaches when you wake up, but others are less obvious unless your bed partner notices them,” Jerke said. “You might notice frequent waking, but you might not know about snoring or times when you struggle for breath or stop breathing unless someone tells you about them.”
OSA is quite common in the U.S., affecting about 22 million Americans. More than 80 percent of those go undiagnosed.
“It is more common in people who have larger necks, about 17 inches or larger for men or 16 inches for women,” Jerke said. “Some people with chronic conditions such as diabetes are more likely to have it, and the telltale signs include daytime sleepiness or pauses in breathing or gasps during sleep. Not all snorers have OSA, but all who have sleep apnea will likely be noisy in their sleep habits.”
Untreated OSA can lead to hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes and increased risk of stroke, Jerke said. So getting it addressed isn’t just about rest – it could be a life-saving step.
Not Gaining Rest
The biggest issue with sleep disorders is that time spent in bed is not recharging our brain and bodies with the rest they need. Some mild forms of OSA can be treated with oral appliances such as mouth-guards that help hold the jaw in a position where the airway is more open. If you face moderate or severe OSA, Jerke said you and your doctor should consider a continuous positive airway pressure device, or CPAP machine.
Those devices serve to keep the airway open and allow your body to “recharge” as it gets the oxygen you need while you get good rest.
“The root causes of sleep apnea can include neck size as well as body mass index, but it can be genetic or due to a smaller airway,” Jerke said. “Since the roots of it can be varied, you should begin seeking solutions with a doctor.”
CPAP technology has evolved considerably in the last decade, and Jerke said the many choices and options available can be tailored to help anyone whose care team determines it’ll bring them the ultimate goal: restful sleep for better health.
Once a provider writes the prescription for a CPAP, the home medical equipment team can explain the wide array of devices and the various benefits.
“The vast array of symptoms related to sleep conditions can be resolved, everything from depression and irritability to heart disease,” Jerke said. “Explore the roots of your sleep disorder. Things can improve.”