Sleep issues not uncommon, but help available

For Miami Valley Today

Failing to get enough sleep can be more than an annoyance.

It can cause physical issues for some people and put others at risk for medical concerns.

“We tend to cut into the amount of sleep with all the chores we have,” M. Mazen Dallal, MD, said during a Common Sleep Disorders program March 6 at Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC).

The program was part of National Sleep Awareness Month activities during March.

Dr. Dallal has been medical director for Sleep Services at Miami Valley Hospital since 2008 and is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Wright State University.

Those who have problems with sleep are not alone, he said.

Around 70 million people in the United States are affected by a sleep problem. Sleep deprivation and disorders are estimated to cost more than $100 billion a year in lost productivity, medical costs, sick leave, and damage to property, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

One of the most common questions about sleep, is how much is enough, Dr. Dallal said.

“For most adults, anywhere between seven and nine hours of sleep is what is recommended. There are exceptions to every rule. Some are OK with less, others need more to feel rested,” he said.

As people get older the amount of sleep needed doesn’t change, but when sleep occurs probably does, he said. For seniors, the sleep may become fragmented at five to six hours at night followed by the need for a nap in early to midafternoon.

“The total amount of sleep doesn’t change. It still is needed but you cannot get it all in one big chunk,” Dr. Dallal said.

The most common sleep disorder is insufficient sleep syndrome caused primarily by people not taking the time to sleep.

“You find yourself waking up feeling tired … By the end of the week, you feel exhausted,” Dr. Dallal said.

People who are tired can be more irritable, more forgetful, have lapses in concentration, and can display poor judgment. All are manifestations of inadequate or lack of quality sleep, he said.

Among common sleep disorders are sleep apnea, when an individual stops breathing during sleep; restless leg syndrome, when the person who lies down to sleep has restless feelings in their legs; insomnia, when someone cannot fall asleep or stay asleep or wakes too early; and narcolepsy, when the person falls asleep at an inappropriate time.

Most sleep disorders can be addressed with proper diagnosis at facilities such as Premier Health Sleep Centers, Dr. Dallal said.

People often seek help after another family member complains about snoring or someone is gasping for air at night and waking up exhausted. They also may be having problems at work. “They will come in for a sleep study as a last resort (and say), ‘If I don’t do something, I am going to lose my job,’” he said.

Sleep evaluations often are followed by treatment recommendations.

For those with less serious sleep issues, people should take time to wind down before going to bed, Dr. Dallal said. During that time, they should avoid phones, watching TV, listening to music and during the hours before retiring, avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages and smoking. Getting up every morning at the same time also is beneficial, he said.

For more information on sleep centers, visit For more information on the UVMC Sleep Center, call (937) 440-7168.

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