Interested in something that can make you smarter, slimmer and more successful at work? It's called sleep, and more than 40 million Americans suffer from a treatable sleep disorder that is preventing them from getting enough of it.
For some, the cost is measured in fatigue, irritability, lower productivity and reduced work performance. But for others, the cost is considerably higher as the list of serious health risks associated with sleep deprivation continues to grow: diabetes, heart failure, stroke and obesity are just a few. Yet, remarkably, only a small percentage of those with sleep disorders seek help.
"The vast majority of people with sleep disorders believe it is normal to stumble through life exhausted," explains Patty Scagliotti, manager, St. Jude Sleep Disorders Institute, one of Southern California's most respected programs. "They believe constant fatigue is just part of their life."
While almost everyone is familiar with the signs and symptoms of insomnia (lying awake for hours staring at the clock) and narcolepsy (uncontrollable falling asleep throughout the day), one of the most common sleep disorders typically goes undetected: sleep apnea.
Of the 20 million Americans with sleep apnea, most have no idea they suffer from a completely treatable medical condition. They just wake up exhausted every day uncertain why. Due to an obstructed airway, a person with sleep apnea may stop breathing anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute, dozens of times each night. The interruptions in breathing cause dangerous heartbeat changes, increases in blood pressure and heart enlargement. Unaware of the problem, most apnea sufferers wake up with a headache, drained and fatigued—despite having spent eight or nine hours in bed. Common symptoms—such as loud snoring, and gasping or choking for breath throughout the night—are often dismissed by spouses as an unavoidable irritant or as humorous.
"Unfortunately, loud snoring is seen more often as a source of jokes than as a symptom, so almost 90 percent of those with sleep apnea—especially women—go undiagnosed and untreated," says Patty.
There is a better choice, which starts with talking to your doctor about your symptoms.
"With proper diagnosis and treatment, you can eliminate your fatigue and regain your quality of life," says Patty, who explains that most insurance plans include coverage for sleep disorder evaluations. "At St. Jude, we've helped thousands of men, women and children rediscover the benefits of a good night's sleep."
To find out more about the St. Jude Sleep Disorders Institute, visit our website or call (714) 446-7240.