Sleep Disorder Institute Participates In Sleep Awareness Week
Sleep Disorder Institute at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center made the answer clear, “Sleep Health is linked to brain, heart, lung and muscle function.”
Just how important are those eight hours of shut-eye? During Sleep Awareness Week last week, the medical staff at the Sleep Disorder Institute at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center made the answer clear. “Sleep Health is linked to brain, heart, lung and muscle function,” explained Jack Horng, M.D. FCCP, medical director of the Sleep Disorder Institute and a pulmonologist with Rockland Pulmonary and Medical Associates, part of Bon Secours Medical Group. “Research also shows that sleep disruptions or lack of sleep affect our short-term memory, mood and ability to concentrate during the day. Weight gain also may be seen among patients who are sleep deprived.”
While Sleep Awareness Week, promoted by the National Sleep Foundation, highlights the importance of Sleep Health, Dr. Horng and his staff at the Sleep Disorder Institute work year-round to increase public and professional awareness of sleep disorders and to provide comprehensive care in the field of Sleep Medicine. “The benefits of sleep are underestimated by our society,” Dr. Horng said. “We work long hours to keep up with professional/academic demands and accept stimulants such as coffee, tea and sodas to compensate for our sleep deprivation. This feeds into a lack of sleep at night as well.”
Leading a team of board-certified Sleep Medicine specialists, Dr. Horng evaluates and treats patients with sleep disorders such as episodic acute insomnia, experienced by more than 50% of the general population at some point in their lifetime. “Approximately one in three people complain of experiencing sleep disruptions,” said Dr. Horng, “and a tenth of the population suffers from a daytime functional impairment consistent with a diagnosis of insomnia.”
Dr. Horng added that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), in which patients stop breathing during sleep, is present in 4-6% of the population and is an important condition that can worsen hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and behavioral disorders. Other disorders evaluated at the Sleep Disorder Institute include snoring, which Dr. Horng described as common and increasingly prevalent as we age, as well as restless leg syndrome/periodic leg movement syndrome, which affects 10% of the population in the U.S. but is often misdiagnosed as insomnia or other neurological disorders. Also treated at the Institute are narcolepsy, R.E.M Behavior Disorder, parasomnia/sleep walking and talking, circadian rhythm disorders and shift work disorder.
Regardless of the type of sleep disorder, Dr. Horng stressed the importance of evaluating a patient’s sleep within the broader context of his or her overall health. “The biggest myth among my patient population, and even referring physicians, is that polysomnographic (sleep) study is used to answer why a person sleeps poorly.” He emphasized that all tests, including sleep studies, need to be coupled with a clinical diagnosis or suspicion to be confirmed or negated. “An insomniac taking a sleep study without a history or physical exam will not have an answer to why the person does not sleep,” he explained.
Dr. Hong went on to say that although eight hours has been advocated as good amount of sleep, our body actually will tell us how much sleep we need, and this changes as we age. “There are short sleepers who can get away with four to five hours of sleep and function well without daytime sleepiness. On the other hand, there are people who sleep 9-10 hours a night and still feel like they need to nap to catch up with their sleep.” He observed that we typically deprive ourselves of sleep during the workweek and try to catch up on the weekends. “A good rule would be to strive for whatever number of hours of sleep you need so you don’t feel the need for stimulants or naps to keep you functioning during the day.”