If eight hours of shut-eye sounds more like a luxury than a necessity, Dr. Kelly Brown should be able to convince you otherwise. “Most people really do need eight hours of sleep per night. Short and poor-quality sleep have serious long-term health consequences,” says Brown, who specializes in sleep medicine, epilepsy and neurology at Taylor Hospital’s Crozer-Keystone Sleep Center.
Women are at a particular risk for recurring sleep apnea—and not necessarily because they’re more likely to develop symptoms of the condition, which are typically attributed to overweight or obese middle-aged men. “Women with sleep apnea—a treatable problem—often complain of frequent awakenings during the night,” Brown says. “If left untreated, it can be associated with stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain and heart disease.”
Diagnosis often requires a sleep study and an evaluation by someone like Brown. A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine may be recommended, along with other treatment options. “Improving sleep dramatically improves quality of life,” says Brown.
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