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2010-03-11 digital edition

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2010-03-11 / Community News

National Sleep Awareness Week

National Sleep Awareness Week (NSAW), which takes place March 7-13, is a public education and awareness campaign that coincides with the return of Daylight Savings Time. Although the loss of one hour of sleep may seem unimportant, that hour can affect everyone for several days. “Losing an hour of sleep every night for one week is as detrimental to one’s health as going an entire night without sleep,” said Dr. John Weed, Chief of Staff at Richards Memorial Hospital. “Sleep disorders have been linked to increased incidence of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and sudden death.”

One of the primary causes of sleep disorder symptoms is selfimposed sleep deprivation. With economic and societal pressures, many individuals burn the midnight oil in hopes of getting more done; in reality, the loss of sleep can cause daytime impairments like concentration and memory problems, poor judgment, decreased work performance, chronic fatigue, and cardiac stress.

The NSAW campaign has been developed to promote the importance of sleep. The benefits of a good night’s sleep not only come from the hours (adults typically need 7-9 hours of sleep every night), but from the quality of sleep. Quality sleep strengthens the immune system, rejuvenates and heals the body, improves learning and memory, and fosters good emotional health.

Simply developing healthy sleep habits can improve some sleep disorder symptoms. Such habits include:

* Discontinuing watching TV or doing work in bed

* Exercising regularly (but completed at least 3 hours before bedtime)

* Establishing a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends

* Developing a consistent relaxing bedtime routine

* Avoiding caffeine in the second half of the day

The good news is that although many suffer night after night, these sleep disorders can be easily diagnosed and effectively treated. The Little River Sleep Wellness Center, located at Richards Memorial Hospital, offers nonevasive procedures to isolate and treat any sleep-related medical conditions. If you experience any of these symptoms and/or believe you may have a sleep disorder, contact your primary care physician or Richards Memorial Hospital at (512) 446-4500 to see if a sleep study at the Little River Sleep Wellness Center could help you.

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