Lack of Sleep Could Shorten Life by 5 Years

BA8TX2 Senior man sleeping in bed. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.
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DOTHAN, AL--Genary Laplant has worked at the Medical Center's Sleep Center for 22 years but was recently diagnosed with a sleeping disorder herself after disturbing her husband's sleep.

"When I would snore or stop breathing he would actually nudge me and say roll over your snoring, catch your breath you're not breathing so that was keeping me awake to because he was trying to sleep too and he couldn't."

Laplant was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea.

"Sleep Apnea is when you stop breathing in your sleep," said Laplant.

When that happens your brain sends a signal and snoring kicks in.

"it can happen 4 to 500 times a night."

Doctors say Sleep Apnea is one of the most common sleeping disorders they've come across.

"Sleep's a vital part of our normal physiology, when we don't get it there's a price that we pay," said SAMC Sleep Lab Director, Marvin Sexton

And that price is quite noticeable.

"The symptoms we see in most people have to do with fatigue, tiredness, sleepiness, low energy, memory problems, concentration problems," added Sexton.

It can also affect your health with high blood pressure, heart failure, and even depression.

Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep are signs you may need to see a doctor.

"We get them in our sleep room, we do their hookup and we monitor their tests all night, we are recording to see their sleep, their breathing, their oxygen, snoring, we are getting an overall picture of what they do when they sleep at night," explained Laplant.

A doctor looks over the results and then medicine, breathing machines or other treatments are suggested.

The average person needs between 6 and 8 hours of sleep.

Doctors say a lack of sleep could shorten your life span by 5 years.

Doctors say to fall asleep easier, stick to a schedule, avoid caffeine within 12 hours of bedtime and avoid bright lights.

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