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Fri, May 13, 2016 at 12:00 AM

Why can’t you sleep?

Not being able to sleep is a serious problem with serious consequences, and you shouldn't resign yourself to a lifetime of feeling tired.

Dr. Jenna Carpenter, a pulmonologist with Pulmonary and Sleep Associates of Marshall County, talks about what might cause a lack of sleep in women and how to fix it. Women often sacrifice their own needs to take care of others, especially when it comes to getting the recommended eight hours of sleep every night.

“I think women tend to be more sleep deprived than men,” she says. “Sleep affects everything. Not getting enough sleep definitely impacts your health.”

Lack of sleep can

  • Cause your memory to be poor
  • Worsen existing medical conditions
  • Leave you feeling lousy

So why can’t you sleep?

If you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may have sleep apnea. That is especially true for menopausal women because at that age, females surpass the number of males with the condition. 

Some signs of sleep apnea could be:

  • Your spouse notices you snoring
  • You’re having breathing disruptions
  • You’re waking often or 
  • You have a general feeling of tiredness... 

You should visit a sleep specialist to get tested. Depending on the severity of your condition, you could have several options for treatment. 

What are your treatment options?

For mild to moderate sleep apnea, a dental appliance may work. Most people – about 80 percent of those seeking treatment for sleep apnea - are fitted with a C-PAP machine. Another option may be surgery to remove tonsils and excess tissue in the throat. Surgery is usually reserved for patients who cannot tolerate a C-PAP.

Dr. Carpenter estimates that at least 50 percent of the population has some degree of sleep apnea. But a common misconception is that it strikes only obese people. That’s not true.

“I have some very thin patients who suffer from sleep apnea,” she says. “It’s the structure of the back of the throat. It’s just narrow.”

Read more about sleep disorders and make an appointment with a sleep specialist here.

Dr. Carpenter’s office is located in suite 210 of the Professional Office Building at Marshall South. For an appointment call (256) 840-4653.