By Maria Allen
If you snore, or suffer from daytime drowsiness or bouts of debilitating insomnia, you’re not alone. In fact, approximately 80 million Americans are affected by some form of sleep disorder. Unfortunately, insufficient sleep can take a toll on a person’s mental and physical health, leading to weight gain, forgetfulness, irritability, depression, impaired job performance and relationship problems. Certain sleep disturbances can be signs of more serious health problems.
“Sleep is critically important because it is reparative to the body and mind,” says Dr. Julie Johnson founder and director of The Plymouth Center for Behavioral Health, LLC. “Therapy can help with the worries that keep people up at night and can offer techniques to help quiet the mind, such as relaxation and meditation skills.” Johnson also stresses the importance of “sleep hygiene,” which refers to a nightly routine that promotes sleep. Recommendations include limiting caffeine, food and alcohol, exercise and use of electronic devices before bedtime. Other suggestions include going to bed and waking at the same time and creating a soothing bedroom environment.
South Shore Hospital’s Sleep Center helps pinpoint the causes of a wide range of sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy through in-lab sleep studies. According to neurodiagnostics supervisor Linda Murphy, there can be medical reasons for insomnia, such as stomach issues, endocrine problems, allergies, arthritis or neurological problems. Loud, chronic snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, a condition commonly affiliated with cardiovascular problems. “If a person is experiencing excessive daytime fatigue or having trouble sleeping at night,” says Murphy, “they should let their primary care doctor know as they may refer them for a sleep study or to a sleep specialist.”