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Your Healthy Family: When to see a doctor about trouble sleeping

Posted at 7:37 AM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 07:38:09-04

Research shows sleep disorders affect as many as 50 to 70 million people in the United States. If you're having trouble sleeping, when should you get help from a doctor?

“A few of the most common sleep disorders that we diagnose in the sleep center would be sleep apnea and insomnia. These are disorders that are highly prevalent, and where there are treatments that are effective and that can lead to improved quality of life," Dr. Nancy Foldvary, a Sleep Specialist with Cleveland Clinic, said.

She said sleep plays a big role in your overall health, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting a good night’s rest. If you don't, she said it could impact your blood pressure, weight and cognitive function, and could cause mood disorders and psychological distress.

Dr. Shona Velamakanni, a Cardiologist with the NCH Heart Institute, said sleep is also important for your heart.

“We advocate getting at least seven hours ideally, six is a minimum. Frequent awakening and not enough sleep can definitely have negative effects on your heart,” she said.

Dr. Foldvary said if you've been having sleep issues for at least three months, it’s time to get evaluated.

“Some patients will present earlier than that, but most of the patients who come to the sleep disorder center have had symptoms of a sleep disorder for years, if not decades. And again, not identifying those disorders can put you at a significant risk," she said.

Dr. Velamakanni recommends turning off bright lights 30 minutes before you go to sleep, and setting your thermostat where you sleep at 72 degrees or less to help you get into a deeper sleep.