Put Insomnia to Rest

Put Insomnia to Rest

By Cynthia Thaik, M.D.

Are you or a loved one suffering from insomnia? Our body requires a particular routine to function properly, and sleep is a crucial part of that routine. When the body is deprived of the sleep it needs your life and health can pay the price.

Sleep Deprivation Is Dangerous

Based on two years of research, the National Sleep Foundation found adults should get around 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Missing just 1.5 hours of sleep has shown to decrease alertness and impair memory. When a person doesn’t get enough sleep, mood regulation is affected, causing difficulty in the maintenance of relationships (whether friend, family or work). Sleep deprivation also increases the likelihood of accidents (especially automobile) and decreases quality of life by making people less likely to participate in daily activities. So, what causes it?

Today one in four Americans develop Insomnia each year, and a leading cause of the disorder is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). There are an estimated 22 million Americans suffering from it today. Seen in all age groups, obstructive sleep apnea is when a person’s throat muscles relax and close the airway intermittently during sleep. Not only can sleep apnea be a bit scary and disruptive to sleep next to, but it also hosts a connection to a troubling list of health concerns.

Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease

When your breathing is hindered at night, your blood pressure increases to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. This, along with the resulting hardening of the arterial walls makes a person more likely to develop heart disease and experience a stroke or heart attack. A study completed by the National Sleep Foundation found that participants with Obstructive Sleep Apnea were 58% more likely to develop congestive heart failure than those without the sleep disorder.

Sleep Apnea and Obesity

OSA is believed to affect 45% of individuals with obesity and is considered the leading cause of sleep apnea today. Excess weight means there’s more soft tissue around the throat and mouth. When the throat and tongue muscles relax during sleep the extra weight results in the closing of the airway. The person is subconsciously alerted and jerks their airway back open with a snore. Obese adults are at the highest risk of developing sleep apnea as they make up 70% of OSA diagnosis.

Diabetes and Sleep Disorders

Research done by John Hopkins University School of Medicine has shown that sleep disorders such as OSA have been associated with insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance. The disturbed sleep pattern showed to interfere with glucose homeostasis (blood sugar regulation). Over twelve scientific studies have been published supporting the theory that individuals with shorter or repeatedly broken sleep cycles are more likely to develop diabetes.

Shortened Life Expectancy Linked To Disrupted Sleep Rhythms

Disrupted sleep rhythms, impeded heart function, inadequate sugar regulation and a constantly interrupted respiratory system take a toll on the body. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, people with untreated sleep apnea are at three times higher risk of premature death than those without OSA. People who experienced sleep apnea for just five years had an eye-opening – 30% increase in their risk of dying from a heart attack.

What Can Be Done: Insomnia Treatment Options

A common treatment of Sleep apnea is the use of continuous airway pressure delivered by a CPAP machine, a device that fits snugly around your nose when you sleep. Lifestyle changes leading to weight loss such as eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise has also shown to both reduce symptoms and risk factors.

Knowing the facts of sleep disorders can be scary. The good news is, there are a number of successful treatment options available today. If you’re wondering if you might have sleep apnea, you can try taking an online test* to help determine if you should schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. After all, good sleep is the foundation to a healthy and happy life.

*If there are any concerns raised by the online survey, please book an appointment at our office for further sleep apnea evaluation and management.

About the author

Dr. Cynthia Thaik, M.D. is a Harvard-trained cardiologist serving the greater Los Angeles community at her holistic health center in Burbank and Valencia, CA. Dr. Thaik is the author of Your Vibrant Heart: Restoring Health, Strength, and Spirit from the Body’s Core. To learn more about Dr. Thaik or the Holistic Healing Heart Center, or to schedule an appointment, please contact staff@drcynthia.com or call (818) 842-1410.