BY NATALIE WINTERS
Do you find yourself tossing and turning all night? Have you been told you’re a loud snorer? If you think your sleep habits are out of the ordinary and you find yourself tired throughout the day, Dr. Sunit R. Patel at the California Sleep Center may be able to help you.
Dr. Patel is a sleep specialist, lung specialist and critical care specialist with over 26 years of experience. He came to the valley in 1995 and opened the California Sleep Center in Turlock in 2001. Four years later, he opened another office in Merced and in 2009, he opened one in Los Banos.
His motto? “Breathe right, sleep tight.”
There are many different kinds of sleep disorders, including restless leg syndrome, hypersomnia, narcolepsy and insomnia, but the most common is sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which a person has one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while they sleep. The pauses can last from a few seconds to even minutes and may occur 30 times or more an hour. This, in turn, does not allow the brain and the rest of the body to get enough oxygen—which causes the body to awaken and fragments the sleep. People who have sleep apnea are often tired the next day because of the constant awakening that prevents them from a deep sleep.
“If you look at the cycle of a day, we spend one third of it sleeping,” Patel said. “You should address any problems that occur during your sleep because it also affects your daytime functioning. You lose concentration, your productivity goes down, your personality may change and it’s a very serious health problem.”
One way to help avoid sleep apnea is to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.
“Seventy-five percent of people who have sleep apnea tend to be overweight,” Patel said. “Sleep apnea is usually caused from narrow bone structure and added weight does not help.”
The risks of sleep apnea can be as significant as early death, but even moderate sleep disorders can be related to heart disease, reduced sexual function and other problems. If sleep apnea is not treated it can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, memory issues, diabetes, acid reflex, an increase in the arteries called pulmonary hypertension and can even cause heart failure in the long run.
The earlier it is diagnosed, the better.
“Oftentimes people tend to ignore their symptoms,” Patel said. “If [they] think they are experiencing any of the symptoms, they should at least talk to their primary care physician, because sometimes it can go unrecognized—get a referral and get that checked out.”
For more information about the California Sleep Centers, call 209-216-3420.