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Dr. Sunita Kumar, a Loyola sleep specialist, with WJOL radio

Dr. Sunita Kumar, medical director of Loyola's Sleep Disorders Center, talks with WJOL radio about how numerous patients are unaware of the many sleep disorders that exist. She emphasizes how important it is that patients make sure that they are seeing an accredited sleep specialist. She cites a study that reported at least 58 percent of the population had 1 out of the 4 symptoms of insomnia per week. There are different types of insomnia. Some people can't fall asleep, while others who can sleep for a while but then wake up and can't get back to sleep. And some people don't get a restful sleep.

In the same survey about 40 percent of the population reported issues with snoring and another 15 percent had troubles with Restless Leg Syndrome. Only about 30 percent of the population gets a full 8 hours of sleep, the study found. Children should get at least 10 hours of sleep, but many teens will stay up late and then be sleep-deprived when it's time for school. Also, parents of newborns have their sleep disrupted until their baby acquires a habit of sleeping through the night. In addition, people with elderly parents can also be sleep deprived because they have to wake up several times during the night to attend to one or both parents. Women tend to report more sleep problems, but this is because they are more open to reporting this as a problem. And people who work an overnight shift often aren't able to get a full 8 hours of sleep because they have to take care of their family when they get home in the morning.

One prevalent sleep disorder is sleep apnea. Most states currently report sleep apnea rates of greater than 25 percent. And obese patient tend to have a prevalence of sleep apnea of between 50 percent to 70 percent. There are several ways to treat sleep apnea. One way is to lose weight. Another is to use a CPAP device, which delivers oxygen at a higher pressure through a mask. Surgery is another option.

Another disruptive condition is narcolepsy, which causes excessive sleepiness and sleep attacks. It is linked to a deficiency of a specific neurotransmitter in the brain and is treated with medication and scheduled naps throughout the day.
Dr. Kumar warns that energy drinks and other caffeinated drinks just mask an underlying problem with sleep. It's important to have a sleep routine, but if you can't sleep within 15 minutes get up and do something that relaxes you. This could be a variety of activities, but you should not watch TV, eat or work on a computer.

Loyola has an accredited sleep center and has two locations, one in Maywood and another in Burr Ridge. For more information or to make an appointment, please call 888-LUHS-888 (888-584-7888).

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Stasia Thompson
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