LewisGale doctor talks sleep apnea, sleeping pills and falling asleep

LewisGale doctor talks sleep apnea, sleeping pills and falling asleep (Image 1)
LewisGale doctor talks sleep apnea, sleeping pills and falling asleep (Image 1)

SALEM (WSLS) – Millions of people have sleep apnea; a serious sleep disorder where your breathing stops and starts.

The LewisGale sleep lab says sleep apnea is what they most commonly diagnose people with. Doctors say there’s been an increase in sleep apnea because there’s an increased awareness , and obesity plays a role too.

Symptoms include snoring and being sleepy during the day. There is data showing there’s an increased risk of crashes in drivers with obstructive sleep apnea.

Doctor Bruce Stewart says the Department of Transportation requires truck drivers who are obese and have high blood pressure to take a sleep test.

Doctor Stewart says some people can reverse sleep apnea by losing weight. There is also a surgical cure, but not many people take that route because it is very involved and includes breaking your jaw.

Sleeping pills to help with sleep apnea is a controversial topic. Prescriptions are available to help you fall asleep or stay asleep longer.

Dr. Stewart says some experts believe sleeping pills are bad under any circumstance. The sleep academy recommended using sleeping pills for a short period of time if you’re having stress in your life. 

However, Dr. Stewart says some people may need to take them every night because of arthritis and back pain  or chronic stress.

“I think you have to realize if you’re going to take a sleeping pill on a long-term basis that it is going to be more difficult to stop it. You will get not addicted to it, but it will be sort of a habit, that once you decide ‘Okay I want to get off of this medicine,’ you’ll need to sort of taper down gradually to get off of it,” explained Dr. Stewart.

He says if you want to sleep well it’s important to eliminate stressors. If you have trouble falling asleep, or wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about the next day or writing a list the night before can help you relax. 

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