Sweet Dreams Can Be Yours!

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Waking up to smell the roses is a wonderful way to greet the morning, but if you’ve been tossing, turning and gasping for air all night, you may feel more like crawling back under the covers to hide from the light of day. Does this exhausting scenario sound like you? You may have a sleep disorder, so stop yawning and perk up. Help is on the way.

If you snore or share your home with someone who does, please don’t snooze on this news. Know that you’re not alone. Millions of African–Americans struggle with the same condition. Chronic, loud snoring may be caused by a condition called Sleep Apnea, and it’s a serious problem. Snoring is actually caused by a vibrating soft palate – that’s the little bell–shaped growth hanging at the back of your throat. Some types of snoring indicate that the snorer isn’t getting enough oxygen. Obstructive Apnea occurs when the upper air passages narrow. Breathing can cease from 10 to 60 seconds. In Central Sleep Apnea there’s a delay in the signal from the brain to breathe. In both cases a person must wake up briefly to breathe, sometimes hundreds of times a night. It’s easy to see how either form of Sleep Apnea can leave you fatigued. More important, the cessation of breathing can, in extreme cases, result in death.

How do you rate on the following "snore score?" At night do you experience:

  • morning headaches
  • high blood pressure
  • dry mouth on awakening
  • difficulty concentration excessive perspiration
  • night–time heartburn
  • reduced libido
  • restless sleep
  • frequent trips to the bathroom
  • rapid weight gain
  • problems with overweight
  • issues of depression

Along with some or any of these indicators, loud snoring may mean that you have Sleep Apnea and should see a physician for screening. Treatment may include behavior modification techniques like avoiding alcohol and sedatives, losing weight and sleeping on one side. Oral devices that bring the jaw forward or elevate the soft palate are also useful. Surgery is a last resort.

Insomnia is another common problem among Blacks with very real negative implications for your health. And while medical science still does not know exactly why the body needs sleep, the lack of it results in fatigue, irritability, mental confusion and a host of emotional problems. Sleep–deprived people can be a danger to themselves and others.

African–Americans over 60, women, and those with a history of depression form the widest population of insomniacs. But anyone can experience insomnia occasionally. If sleeplessness persists for more than a month, the problem is regarded as chronic. Behavioral, environmental or physical conditions may be the cause and professional help may be needed to identify the source of the problem.

Before reaching for knockout drugs to force sleep, explore the behavioral factors that may promote wakefulness. Drinking too many caffeine–based beverages? Unduly stressed or depressed? Sleep environment conducive to relaxation or full of sleep–blocking distractions? If these rest inhibitors look familiar, remove them! Meditate, take a warm bath, have a cup of herb tea, darken your room and turn off the radio and television. Dreamland is within your reach!

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