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Do more than doze - or risk health woes

Legacy offers remodeled, sleep disorders clinic


If you’re thinking of skipping or skimping on your sleep tonight, think again, says Dr. Beenish K. Khwaja, a sleep medicine specialist at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center.

“A good sleep is the foundation of your overall well-being,” she says. “Sleep heals and repairs your heart and blood vessels and helps your memory form.”

Khwaja notes medical research now points to a lack of sleep as a contributing factor in heart and lung disease, obesity, dementia and even cancer. Yet about 50 percent of all Americans are sleep deprived, she says, and lack of sleep also contributes to car accidents. Indeed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 2.5 percent of fatal crashes and 2 percent of injury crashes involve “drowsy driving.”JOSH KULLA - Dr. Beenish K. Khwaja, sleep medicine specialist at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center, talks about the center's recent renovation in one of the new rooms.

Meanwhile, up to 30 percent of men and 20 percent of women suffer from sleep apnea, characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow breathing during sleep, she says. Symptoms include snoring, choking or gasping episodes, tossing and turning, frequent awakenings and urination, daytime sleepiness and fatigue.

Khwaja as well as Legacy’s Lead Sleep Technician Mark Williams note the facility has recently remodeled its sleep center, where patients come in to be monitored for such disorders as apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder and sleepwalking.

Up to four patients can be housed in the center per night. In addition, the lab offers home sleep testing, conducting up to 12 studies a week. The medical personnel note the revamped center will better be able to keep up with demand. The wait to get admitted prior to renovation was sometimes as long as three weeks.

To help folks avoid sleep disorders, Khwaja offers these tips.JOSH KULLA - Legacy's Lead Sleep Technician Mark Williams notes the Sleep Center can monitor patients on site or at their homes.

• Establish a relaxing routine before bedtime.

“We don’t really make it a ritual,” she says. “A lot of people these days are falling asleep with their iPhones on.” Instead, she says, about an hour before you sleep, unplug from the world — no TV, no Internet — and lower the lights.

• Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake time

• Eliminate large or spicy meals. Lying down after a spicy meal can make you uncomfortable, since the digestive system slows down when you sleep. It can also lead to heartburn. Make sure to finish a heavy meal at least four hours before bedtime.

• Don’t drink caffeinated beverages after 2 or 3 p.m., and try to avoid drinking alcohol after dinner.

• If you need to nap during the day, keep it between 20 and 40 minutes. More than that and you risk interfering with your ability to sleep at night.

• Make sure your bedding is comfortable and try to sleep on your side, not your back, she says, noting sleeping on your back can cause apnea.

• Maintain regular physical activity, which helps with stress and sleep quality.

• Do not go to bed until you are tired and only when you feel ready to sleep.

• After going to bed, do not stay in bed if you remain awake for more than 20 minutes

• If you are unable to sleep after 10-20 minutes, get out of bed and leave the room.

• Consider some relaxing techniques or activities such as reading or listening to soothing music, in another room.

• Try to keep your weekend schedule as close to your weekday schedule as much as possible.

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