Sleep is essential to maintaining good health and well-being, and studies show that sleep deprivation can lead to negative health outcomes, such as obesity and mood disorders. Yet, for more than 60% of the U.S. population, getting some shut-eye isn’t easy.
According to Thomas Rice, MD, pulmonologist and medical director of the UPMC Passavant Sleep Center, over the course of the 20th century, our total sleep time has decreased by at least 20% to 30%.
Of the patients Dr. Rice sees, 75% come in for sleep consultations. The most common disorder he sees in patients over age 15 is sleep apnea, a condition in which your airway becomes partially or fully blocked during sleep. The Sleep Center, with locations at UPMC Passavant—McCandless and UPMC Passavant—Cranberry, diagnoses and treats patients with insomnia, snoring, restless legs, and narcolepsy.
Learn more about sleep apnea and the steps you can take to rest easier at night.
Never Miss a Beat!
Subscribe to Our HealthBeat Newsletter!
Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!
Q: What is Sleep Apnea and How is it Treated?
“Two-thirds of the population suffers from snoring,” says Dr. Rice. “While loud snoring is often a symptom of sleep apnea, it shouldn’t be confused with apnea, which causes patients to stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer during the night. Often, people don’t even realize they’ve stopped breathing, and their partner is the one who recognizes it.”
Sleep apnea can lead to serious problems, such as high blood pressure, heart issues, depression, or diabetes. It’s important to have a sleep study done in order to diagnose and treat the condition.
The most common treatment is continuous positive airway pressure, more commonly referred to as CPAP. The CPAP machine helps you breathe better at home during sleep by delivering a constant flow of air through tubing and a mask into your airway. It creates enough pressure in your airway to hold the tissues open so that your airway doesn’t collapse. The device simultaneously captures data that tells the doctors how often it’s being used, if the mask is leaking air, and if sleep apnea is continuing.
Q: Are Naps Effective?
Naps can improve cognitive performance — but if you’re someone who has trouble falling asleep or wakes up during the night, naps may not be effective. “A nap can be helpful if your schedule allows you to take one within eight hours of waking,” says Dr. Rice. After that, a nap can disrupt your sleep. He also recommends you limit your naps to between 15 and 30 minutes.
Q: How Do You Achieve Better Sleep?
“Humans are the only beings who deliberately curtail their sleep — but sleeping well is an important part of fostering good health,” he says. One third of our lives should be spent asleep and Dr. Rice recommends these tactics to improve your sleep quality:
- Go to bed when you feel tired
- Create a sleep environment that’s quiet, cool, and dark (no cellphones!)
- Eat a balanced diet
- Stay active
If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep or are concerned you may have a sleep disorder, you can request an appointment online with the Sleep Center at UPMC Passavant or call 412-748-6496.
Connect with UPMC
For people with breathing problems, allergies, and other lung conditions or diseases, UPMC’s pulmonary experts can help. Our Comprehensive Lung Center provides cutting-edge diagnosis and treatment for diseases of the respiratory and pulmonary systems, whether the condition is acute or chronic. We also operate specialty centers for cystic fibrosis, asthma, COPD and emphysema, pulmonary hypertension, lung transplants, interstitial lung diseases, and sleep disorders. Find an expert near you.