Most of the 70 million Americans suffering from sleep disorders never have their illness diagnosed and treated.
The consequences of ignoring such a condition can be costly. Sleeping problems add about $15 billion to our national healthcare bill, cause $50 billion in lost productivity, and factor in about 56,000 automobile accidents each year.
Now researchers are trying to get the word out that there are ways to help these sleepless sufferers. Sleep disorder clinics can diagnose underlying physical or psychological problems, and new medicines offer safer treatments for sleep afflictions.
"They’re so much safer now," said sleep disorder expert, Dr. Karl Doghramji. "So much more effective, that doctors are tending to use them more, with a greater and greater impact over sleep and helping people function during the course of the day."
For many like Cathie Fanning, sleep disorder clinics are the only way to prevent the potentially dangerous side effects of sleep disorders.
"Even stopping at a red light, I could doze off," said Fanning. "That’s how tired I’ve been. So I don’t usually drive, because I’m afraid of getting into an accident."
Cathie finally went for help and found out that she has sleep apnea, a condition that forces her to stop breathing every 30 seconds, which causes her to wake up repeatedly during the night.
Cathie's doctors haven't recommended medication yet. Instead they are treating Cathie with a machine that forces air into her nose and lungs.
"I’m not as tired," said Fanning. "I wake up more rested. I sleep more throughout the night. I’m not waking up as much."
Consult your doctor if you think you may be one of the millions of Americans suffering from a sleeping disorder.