The Importance of Sleep
Health and Wellness Magazine

The Importance of Sleep

Struggling to Sleep
Among the many types of sleep disorders are sleep apnea, repeated breathing obstructions while sleeping; narcolepsy, a chronic disorder of the central nervous system caused by the brain’s inability to control sleep and wakefulness and which often culminates in falling asleep spontaneously but unwillingly at inappropriate times; bruxism, involuntarily teeth grinding or clenching, usually while sleeping; and delayed sleep phase syndrome, where your sleep is delayed, causing you to sleep later and awake later than a normal sleep pattern.

It is difficult to measure the number of Americans with sleeping disorders because most are undiagnosed, their symptoms dismissed as a regular factor of modern living. But according to an analysis of the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, short sleep duration was found to be most common among blacks (53%) compared to whites (34.5%) or those of other ethnicities (41.7%).

Sleep apnea, one of the most common sleep disorders, affects 4% of men and 9% of women, with 90% of sufferers age 65 or under going undiagnosed. The most common trait of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is snoring, which is often dismissed as a component of aging, weight gain, or stress. But Park says it is a major indication of breathing obstruction, which translates to insufficient blood oxygen to the brain. OSA occurs in all age groups and both sexes, but there are a number of factors that increase risk, including having a small upper airway (or large tongue, or tonsils); being overweight; having a recessed chin, small jaw, or a large overbite; a large neck size (17 inches or greater in a man, or 16 inches or greater in a woman); smoking and alcohol use; being age 40 or older; and ethnicity (African Americans, Pacific-Islanders, and Hispanics). Some sufferers may be genetically predisposed.

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