Calling The Sandman

Calling the SandmanSleep Disorders Are Keeping the Emerald Coast Awake at Night

By Triston V. Sanders

Like the air we breathe, the water we drink or the blood that fills our veins, sleep is necessary to live. And more and more people, even kids, aren’t getting the sleep they need. If you fit the other demographic, chances are you fall into one of two other categories: You’re sleep-deprived because you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, or you have a sleep disorder.

How much sleep do you need? At birth, infants need about 16 hours a day. By the time we reach adulthood, we need about seven to nine hours.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies estimates between 50 million and 70 million Americans struggle with chronic sleep disorders. Sleep disorders are defined as abnormalities in accepted sleep patterns that result in diminished daytime function. A good night’s sleep implies feeling refreshed. If you’re not, and the cause isn’t a transient thing, it needs to be corrected. Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue are common symptoms of sleep disorders.

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, affecting from 20 percent to 30 percent of the population at some point in their lives. Falling asleep in less than five minutes is an indication of excessive daytime sleepiness. More than 30 minutes is insomnia.

Snoring is more than annoying – it’s considered a cousin of the more problematic obstructive sleep apnea (see below). Snoring also can be an environmental sleep disorder for those in annoying proximity to someone who snores significantly.

Sleep Apnea is defined as no inspired airflow for more than 10 seconds in adults, as pinpointed by an electroencephalogram (EEG) reading and a reduction in blood oxygen. Fewer than five apneas per hour is considered normal. There have been patients having more than 400 apneic periods during the night. People can die from sleep apnea – usually from a heart attack, stroke or even motor vehicle accidents related to sleepiness.

Restless Legs Syndrome can be diagnosed in the physician’s office by a fairly specific set of questions. (Basically: Do you experience a strange sensation in your legs when still or first lying down to sleep that is relieved by movement or massage?) Periodic Limb Movements in Sleep can be diagnosed only during an overnight polysomnogram. Symptoms are periodic twitches in the arms, legs or both during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea, one of the most common disorders, occurs when the upper airway closes off during periods of relaxation in sleep. Because of this obstruction, there is no airflow and the oxygen level in the blood drops. This decrease in oxygen saturation in the blood causes the body to react in a flight-or-fight response: The heart rate goes up, blood pressures goes up and the body wakes itself up in an attempt to correct the situation.

This action never allows the person to get into deep sleep, which can lead to chronic health problems associated with poor sleep.

If you’re not sleeping effectively, then nothing else really matters. The treatment for your problem can be as simple as a visit to one of our local sleep centers. Find out how a good night’s sleep can change your life.




Emerald Coast Sleep Disorders Center

Sleep Disorder Center of Fort Walton Beach/Crestview

Bay Medical Sleep Lab