Everyone has experienced sleep problems at one time or another. This may include trouble falling asleep or maintaining sleep, awakening earlier than you wish, not feeling refreshed after sleep, or suffering from excessive sleepiness during the day.
Most adults need about eight hours of sleep each day on a regular schedule for optimal functioning, although some require less and others more. Many people, however, don’t have adequate sleep quality. A lack of sleep is more than just feeling tired—it can adversely affect your health, mental performance, and even your safety.
People are not always aware that their sleepiness may be due to unrecognized sleep disorder or related to a medical or mental health condition. Though sleep disorders are not common among the general population, their incidence increases with age.
Determining the cause of daytime sleepiness or poor quality sleep is critical for proper diagnosis and treatment. Persistent, inappropriate daytime sleepiness and nonrestorative sleep, despite an adequate number of sleep hours, are key indicators of a sleep disorder.
The most common sleep disorders include:
If you’re having sleep problems, consult your physician. He or she may recommend a sleep study if a sleep disorder is suspected. A sleep study, combined with the patient’s history and a physical exam, can help a physician in diagnosing the cause of poor sleep. Performed in a sleep lab, a sleep study allows direct observation and measurement of sleep—something the sleeping person is unable to do.
Depending on the disorder, treatment may include medication, behavioral therapy, surgery, or other individualized treatment. The Milwaukee Regional Sleep Disorders Center at Columbia St. Mary’s specializes in diagnosing and treating a variety of sleep problems and disorders.
Fortunately, increasing awareness of sleep disorders is leading to increased recognition, effective treatment, and more rested and productive individuals.