Sleep Disorder Information Anoka MN
Yes, or patients can see one of our physicians
St Cloud, MN
Internal Medicine, Pediatric Internist
In Search of a Good Night's Sleep
By Leslie Crawford
It should be so easy. You’re tired. You close your eyes. You fall asleep. But for the millions of Americans who are sleepless in Seattle, Manhattan, and Shaker Heights, this simplest of human functions is but a dream. If there’s any comfort in numbers, the insomniac may find solace in knowing she’s hardly alone while she pines in the wee hours for Mr. Sandman.
Up to 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, which tend to worsen with age, yet most sheepishly hide it in the closet. (After all, it’s only sleep, not a life-threatening illness. And doesn’t everyone seem tired these days?) “Too many people think insomnia is something to be embarrassed about, that it’s some sort of weakness,” says Tom Roth, director of the Sleep Disorders Research Center at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. And this prevents a majority from seeking the help they need.
Happily, researchers bent on unraveling the mysteries of slumber are making headway on finding out why so many of us have ongoing trouble falling or staying asleep. “We’re beginning to understand the pathology far better,” says Roth, who cites studies finding that some poor sleepers are simply not wired like normal sleepers. Their hearts beat faster, their temperature runs higher, and their levels of the stress hormone cortisol are elevated. In medical terms, they have a condition known as hyperarousal.
Unfortunately, the best way to target this type of insomnia is still not known. “We have miles to go before we sleep,” says Roth. But at least this new understanding may alleviate some of the stigma that often comes with it. Practitioners have long viewed insomnia as a symptom of other causes—anxiety, depression, hormonal changes, and the side effects of various medications are among the leading ones. But according to the new research, for many people it may well be a condition unto itself. And “you have trouble sleeping” is a lot easier to take than “this means you must be depressed.”
There’s also some good news on the treatment front for people who suffer from any type of insomnia. We’re not talking about a cure—sleeplessness recurs periodically in most insomniacs. But experts say that most people can find a way to manage insomnia as long as they’re willing to keep on trying, even after the first, fifth, and seventh attempts fail. Often the secret lies in combining approaches. “No matter how severe the insomnia,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, director of the Annapolis Research Center for Effective Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia Therapies, “it’s possible for just about everyone to get eight to ten hours of restful sleep.”
Practitioners who take a holistic approach to health have lots to offer the sleep-deprived. If anxiety or stress is your problem, they can suggest any number of calming techniques such as yoga, meditation, or aromatherapy. If nutritional deficiencies might be keeping you awake, they can diagnose them and suggest supplements that may help.
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