It's 3 a.m. and you're staring at the green glow of your digital clock, wondering if you'll get any shut-eye before the alarm blasts in a few short hours. After several sleepless nights, you're feeling cranky and lethargic. Is it safe to start taking a sleepmedication?
Many people turn to sleep aids because insomnia and sleep shortage have become commonplace in this country, leading to potentially serious consequences. In a 2008 National Sleep Foundation poll, 29% of respondents -- nearly one-third...
If you've already tried things like allowing enough time for sleep and making your bedroom a good place for rest, your doctor may suggest you go to a sleep lab for more tests. This may take a night or two.
At the sleep lab, you'll be hooked up to monitors that will track your heart, brain, movements, and breathing patterns as you sleep. A sleep specialist will review the results and tell you what they mean.
Your treatment will depend on what type of sleep problem you're having.
When you have sleep apnea, you briefly stop breathing several times a night. Losing extra weight may make it better. Also, avoid alcohol and sleeping pills.
Ask your doctor if you need a CPAP machine. (CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure.) With CPAP, you wear a mask while you sleep, and it raises the air pressure inside your throat. This keeps your airway more open, so you can sleep better. You'll need to go to a sleep lab to get a CPAP prescription and follow-up. Other PAP machines include the BiPAP for two levels of air pressure and the VPAP, which has varying levels of air pressure.