Forget beauty sleep. A good night’s sleep is integral to good health. But how to do it. Meet Dr. Stasia Wieber, a board- certified physician in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care medicine, and sleep medicine; she is affiliated with St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport and is the director of the Fairfield County Sleep Center at 501 Kings Highway East. Dr. Wieber says, “One-third of Americans suffers from insomnia.” (You’re not alone!) Insomnia, which is the inability to fall asleep at onset or after early waking, is often caused by anxiety—even anxiety about losing sleep.
Time to See a Specialist: Sleep disorders are generally characterized by their duration (lasting more than three weeks) and when they become debilitating to daily life (can’t think straight, irritability, trouble staying awake).
Treatments: Before taking any medication, consider cognative behavior therapies. Ease anxiety with techniques such as deep breathing; learn good sleeping habits; or try focused practices like meditation and yoga.
Pop a Pill?: Dr. Weiber cautions against over-the-counter medicine because they might prevent proper sleep cycles. It’ll knock you out, but you could feel tired the next day. “Prescription medications like Ambien and Lunesta actually help you get good stages of sleep,” she says, adding that medication should be considered as a short-term solution.
Lost Sleep/Weight Gain: “People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) produce more ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite,” explains Dr. Weiber. “If untreated after ten years, OSA has been linked to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and maybe even diabetes. [But even] normal, healthy people, who are sleep deprived, eat up to 45 percent more calories.” She explains that the level of “leptin, which tells your body it’s full, is decreased when you are sleep deprived.”
If you’re concerned about sleep issues, check with your doctor.