Statistics indicate that "drowsy drivers" cause an excess of 100,000 auto crashes annually. In addition, 23 percent of American drivers acknowledge that they have fallen asleep at the wheel during the past year. And while sleep deprivation has been shown to have an enormously negative effect on job performance, and has even been linked to such catastrophes as the grounding of the Exxon Valdez, its gruesome toll on personal health and family life are just as significant.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by loud snoring, interrupted by pauses and gasps. People with sleep apnea continually stop and restart breathing, and as a result don't get enough oxygen and have poor quality sleep because they never reach a state of deep sleep. It is a condition that affects more than 20 million Americans, and nearly 40 percent of people over age 60. Sleep apnea contributes to excessive daytime sleepiness and can trigger high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.
Treatment for sleep apnea may include CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy, in which a mask worn over the nose exerts gentle air pressure that prevents the collapse of the airway. The CPAP mask allows a patient to breath and sleep normally. Most people find it does take time to get used to wearing the mask while sleeping, but that the results are well worth it.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is characterized by feelings of pain or unpleasant sensations in the legs and occasionally the arms in which a person feels a constant need to move or stretch to get rid of the uncomfortable sensation.Often a daytime problem, it also can keep a person from falling asleep at night. The causes of restless leg syndrome are unclear, although heredity is a factor in some cases. For some, medication taken a half-hour before bedtime can alleviate the condition.