|Dr. Gary Kaplan|
There is nothing as refreshing as a good night's sleep. On the other hand, the consequences of insufficient or poor quality sleep are profound and may include:
* impairment of memory, learning, and concentration;
* increased emotional irritability;
* poor performance at work;
* marital discord;
* higher pain sensitivity;
* weakened immunity against colds, flus and other illnesses;
* a higher risk for developing obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression; and
* a greater chance of having a car crash (According to the National Sleep Foundation, 1.9 million car crashes or near misses each year are attributed to fatigue.)
Patient in Sleep Lab
Given what's at stake, it's critical to take action to ensure you're getting enough high quality sleep. Until recently the best way of doing that was to spend a night at a sleep lab with electrodes attached to your head and eyes, chin, and your chest. The electrodes allow computers to measure and analyze your breathing patterns, muscle tension, brain waves (which vary with each phase of sleep), and eye movements (most active during REM sleep).
Unfortunately, the ordeal of spending a night or multiple nights at a sleep lab prevents or delays many patients from obtaining the testing they need.
Patient at home using the new, WatchPAT techology.
Today, however, there is a new, and much more convenient way of detecting sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. It's called the WatchPAT, and it can be worn on your wrist, overnight, in the comfort of your own bed. Several studies have validated its accuracy in diagnosing sleep problems, and it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
I am excited about the technology because it's allowing us to provide timely diagnoses and treatment to patients who are suffering with sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Early diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders can add years to one's life and dramatically improve the quality of your life.
The WatchPAT measures the quality of sleep and detects potential disorders. It also calculates the time spent in each stage of the sleep cycle -- an important indicator of sleep quality -- and notes if interruptions occur during the night. It is able to differentiate between light and deep sleep, and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. If the regenerative processes that occur during your sleep cycle are disrupted -- especially during deep and REM sleep -- the body cannot properly heal and reenergize itself.
How can you tell you may be suffering from disordered sleep? Here are 5 Signs you are NOT getting the quality sleep you need:
1. Not feeling rested after a full night's sleep. Do you spend 7-9 hours in bed each night, but still feel groggy during the day? This is sign of poor quality sleep, even if you think you are a deep sleeper.
2. Trouble falling or staying asleep. Taking more than 20 minutes to fall asleep may be an indicator of insomnia.
3. Waking up frequently. The body doesn't simply shut down at night. During deep sleep, the blood supply to the muscles increases and growth hormones are released that help repair tissue and form new red blood cells. If your sleep cycle is interrupted frequently, these restorative processes cannot occur.
4. A spouse or family member witnessed you stop breathing while asleep. Sleep apnea is a common disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing while asleep. To learn more about this condition, please review our earlier newsletter about sleep apnea.
5. Frequent Snoring. Snoring is not always a sign of an underlying condition, but chronic, loud snoring is often associated with sleep apnea.
To read more about sleep disorders and steps you can take to improve your sleep, please see "Sleep Disorders: How They Affect Us & How to Lay Them to Rest."
If you think you may be suffering from disordered sleeping, we are here to get you back on track for a restful and restorative night's sleep.
As always, you have our best wishes for your optimal health.
Dr. Gary Kaplan