Sixty percent of adult drivers reported driving a vehicle at least once while feeling drowsy, and more than one third reported actually falling asleep at the wheel, according to a recent National Sleep Foundation poll. Even more alarming, 11 million drivers admitted they had an accident or near accident because they dozed off or were too tired to drive.
Craig Atchley, 42 of Flushing, is one of those accident statistics. He credits his crash for waking him up to his sleep problem and the McLaren Sleep Center for saving his life.
In May of 2004, Atchley was driving home from work to take a nap, when he fell asleep at the wheel and sideswiped another vehicle. Atchley realized how fortunate he was that no one was hurt and used this experience as the final motivation to seek help for his sleep problem. He said that the signs of a problem existed since his late teens when he began snoring. In fact, Atchley had such severe snoring over the years that his wife began to wear ear plugs to bed. She told him he would quit breathing during sleep, but still he put off seeking medical help.
In 1998, he began having to take a two hour nap at 1 p.m. everyday just to make it through the day.
“My dad had a snoring problem, my brother had one and I had one, but my mom always said, ‘don’t worry about it; people snore, it’s ok’,” Atchley noted. “It turns out it wasn’t ok.”
Following his accident, Atchley called his family physician who immediately referred him to the McLaren Sleep Center for testing.
“My test results revealed that I had a serious medical condition called sleep apnea and that I needed help breathing at night,” stated Atchley. “I received a machine in July 2004 and from the first time I used it I felt like a new person. I really cannot describe how different I felt. I can even sleep on my back! The machine is portable if I am staying away from home.”
Atchley is an advocate for people to get tested if they are experiencing problems sleeping.
“Going to the McLaren Sleep Center is like being in your own home; it’s not like being in the hospital,” he said. “The apnea was hard on my heart and making it dangerous for me to drive; I really think getting help saved my life.”
“Sleep helps you to restore and rejuvenate many body functions,” stated Joseph Varghese, M.D., pulmonologist and Medical Director of the McLaren Sleep Center. “For adults, a lack of sleep can affect one’s mood as well as the ability for neurons in the body to repair themselves. The immune system can become weak, making the body more vulnerable to infection and disease. People who do not get enough sleep start creating a sleep debt. Some people can make up for this sleep debt by getting extra sleep, but for those who accumulate a chronic sleep debt there can be serious long term effects. If you have any concerns about your sleep habits you should talk to your primary care physician; it may be more serious than you realize.
” The McLaren Sleep Diagnostic Center features:
- Accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
- Physicians Board Certified in Sleep Disorders
- Registered Polysomnographic Technicians and Registered Respiratory Therapists trained to conduct sleep studies
- Confidential treatment provided by experienced professionals
- Pulmonology, Neurology, ENT and Psychology Consultants
- Follow up care to assess progress
If you have questions for the McLaren Sleep Center, please call (810) 342-3900.
Other common sleep disorders include:
- Narcolepsy - excessive drowsiness during the day even when nightly sleep time is within normal range with a tendency to sleep at inappropriate times. These overpowering sleep “attacks” may last for a few minutes, to an hour or longer.
- Insomnia - the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Parasomnias - include a wide range of disorders that disrupt sleep including sleep walking, sleep terrors, sleep eating, and the acting out of dreams.
PLMS/Restless Leg Syndrome
Periodic Limb Movement Syndrome and Restless Leg Syndrome are conditions that cause the legs to move or jerk repeatedly, disrupting sleep.
Did you Know?
Apnea is a Greek word that means without breath. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central and mixed, with obstructive being the most common. With all three types people who go untreated stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times and often for a minute or longer. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. In central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. Mixed apnea is a combination of the two. During an apnea event the brain briefly arouses people to resume breathing. The process causes one’s sleep to be fragmented and of poor quality.
Sleep apnea is very common, affecting more than twelve million Americans according to the National Institutes of Health. Risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age of forty, however, sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, even children. If left untreated sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotency and headaches.