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We're supposed to spend one-third of our lives sleeping. But today a shortage of sleep—and of the right kind of sleep—is undermining our productivity, relationships, and health. Sleep problems can contribute to diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, depression, and diabetes, and they add stress to our already hectic lives. In Sleep to Save Your Life, noted sleep expert Gerard T. Lombardo, M.D., reveals the science behind these problems and what to do about them. As director of one of New York City's ...
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We're supposed to spend one-third of our lives sleeping. But today a shortage of sleep—and of the right kind of sleep—is undermining our productivity, relationships, and health. Sleep problems can contribute to diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, depression, and diabetes, and they add stress to our already hectic lives. In Sleep to Save Your Life, noted sleep expert Gerard T. Lombardo, M.D., reveals the science behind these problems and what to do about them. As director of one of New York City's busiest sleep centers, Dr. Lombardo works with the sleep problems of executives, shift workers, women, children, and the elderly in "the city that never sleeps." He offers detailed strategies for getting the best treatment—and the best sleep—possible.
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Sleep to Save Your Life
This test is offered on the New York Methodist Hospital Web site, to help those seeking information on sleep disorders.
Which statements describe symptoms you have experienced?
2. Thoughts flood my mind and prevent me from sleeping.
3. I frequently wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep.
4. I wake up too early in the morning.
5. I worry and have trouble relaxing.
6. I lie awake for at least half an hour before I can fall asleep.
7. I am sad and depressed; I am afraid to fall asleep.
8. Although I can sleep through the night, during the day when I am still awake, I feel muscle tension, crawling sensations, or aching in my legs.
9. Except when I exercise, I feel sleepy during the day.
10. My legs hurt at night and feel better when I move them.
11. I have been told that I kick at night.
12. Sometimes I can't keep my legs still at night. I feel that I have to keep them moving.
13. When I wake up, my muscles are sore and achy.
14. I use antacids (Rolaids, Tums, Alka-Seltzer, etc.) frequently for stomach upset and wake up at night with heartburn.
15. I amhoarse in the morning.
16. I have a chronic cough.
17. I wake up at night wheezing or coughing.
18. I often have sore throats.
19. I'm told that I snore loudly.
20. Although I don't remember it when I wake up, I'm told that while I'm asleep I stop breathing or gasp for breath.
21. I have high blood pressure.
22. My friends or family say they have noticed changes in my personality, along with more daytime sleepiness.
23. I have gained weight.
24. I sweat a great deal during the night.
25. My heart seems to pound or beat irregularly during the night.
26. I get headaches in the morning.
27. I am losing my sex drive.
28. No matter how hard I try to stay awake during the day, I often fall asleep—even if I've had a full night's sleep.
29. When I feel anger, fear, surprise, or other strong emotions, I get a weak feeling in my knees, jaw, or other muscles.
30. Sleepiness is a problem during work or at school.
31. While falling asleep or shortly afterward, I experience vivid, dreamlike scenes.
32. I sometimes fall asleep during physical effort.
33. I feel as if I need to do a full day's work every hour in order to accomplish anything, because I worry about falling asleep.
34. I feel drowsy when driving, even if I've had a full night's sleep.
35. I often feel paralyzed for brief periods while falling asleep or just after waking up.
Some of the questions in this test may surprise you because they may not appear related to sleep disorders. Yet, it is exactly that counterintuitive element that makes sleep such a challenge. Taken one at a time, the symptoms described in this questionnaire may seem like isolated problems that can be dealt with individually—or things that we and the people around us just have to put up with, as we always have.
Taken together, however, they constitute the pieces of a major health puzzle for individuals, for their families, for their coworkers, and for innocent drivers on the highway or others at the mercy of a sleep-deprived person's decisions or actions. Sleep deficiency has been cited in many of the most prominent mishaps of our age, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the chemical plant disaster in Bhopal, India, and the destruction of space shuttle Challenger. The nuclear power plant disasters at Chernobyl in Ukraine and at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, in which millions of lives were jeopardized, took place between one and four o'clock in the morning, when the attention spans of even veteran night shift workers would be suffering most.
The U.S. conflict in Iraq has demonstrated the need for greater focus on sleep management: The Los Angeles Times has reported that soldiers occasionally fall asleep behind the wheel of armored vehicles, creating bottlenecked convoys. The U.S. Army has long been concerned with sleeplessness and has tackled the subject head-on with programs such as the one titled "Sustaining Performance during Continuous Operations: The U.S. Army's Sleep Management System" (generated at the Proceedings of the Army Conference in 2000.) Research in this area is covered in Chapter 4, "Good Days, Bad Days."
Every day, similar mishaps occur on the nation's highways and in its factories, often with tragic results, although they usually don't make headlines.
Ultimately, however, a far more insidious public health threat lies in the fact that many of us are dying a slow death because of untreated sleep disorders.
The numbers of people with sleep problems of all kinds are alarming and very costly for society at large.
One comprehensive survey, conducted in 1997 by Louis Harris and Associates, Inc., on behalf of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), estimated that sleep problems from a variety of sources afflict nearly half of employed adults and that two-thirds of these, or 36 million, have trouble making it through the day as a result.
Sixty-three percent reported having difficulty handling stress. Sixty percent claimed to have difficulty concentrating. Fifty-seven percent had trouble listening to what others were saying, and many had difficulty solving problems, making decisions, and relating to coworkers. The study estimates the cost of sleep loss on employers at some $18 billion.
Asked how much sleeplessness affects different aspects of their lives, 19 percent said it affects their overall health "very much," 46 percent said "somewhat," while 21 percent said it affects their ability to pursue personal interests very much and 43 percent said it affects their personal interests somewhat.
Excerpted from Sleep to Save Your Life
by Gerard Lombardo
Copyright © 2006 by Gerard Lombardo.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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