If there’s a common thread among the Sleep Center patients, it’s that they don’t think they have a problem. They have been dealing with sleep loss for so long that it seems normal to be tired.
“It’s part of our culture,” Dr. Arun B. Rajan, neurologist with Prime Medical Associates in Dartmouth. “Everyone is used to getting five or six hours sleep.”
But Dr. Rajan was quick to point out that interrupted sleep – through sleep apnea – can lead to serious health problems.
Stages of sleep
“The brain consolidates memory during sleep,” said Dr. Rajan. “Adequate sleep is essential to memory function.”
Every ninety minutes, the brain cycles through the five stages of sleep from a light sleep to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Throughout the night, the REM stage gets longer as the other stages shorten.
Although it is unclear just why people need to sleep (it is known that multiple functions occur during sleep including memory consolidation, removal of toxins etc) general sleep deprivation is also linked to a number of illnesses over time.
Sleep need depends on the age of the person and their condition. But generally, adults need between seven to nine hours nightly.
With sleep apnea, the person is woken repeatedly and goes back to Stage 1, or a light sleep. So the body never is able to complete the cycle and get the ever-deepening Stage 5 REM sleep. That’s part of the reason for the fatigue.
read the entire article in the June/July edition of South Coast Prime Times