People take their sleep for granted — at least that’s what some local sleep doctors have observed.
Experts are taking the oppor-tunity during National Sleep Awareness Week, which started Sunday and runs through Saturday, to remind people about the importance of sleep and how a sleep disorder can cause other issues or be a symptom of another health issue.
“Sleep is very important,” said Mary C. Adekunle, clinical director of the Sleep and Neurodiagnostics Center at Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation in Galloway Township. “Diet and exercise are key, too, but sleep is even more important, because if you’re not sleeping, the other two are not working.”
Bacharach offers free special events through Friday during sleep week at its centers in Galloway Township and Hammonton to offer people sleep screenings, positive airway pressure therapy, or PAP), machine pressure checks and equipment evaluations as well as education materials.
Between 50 million and 70 million adults in the United States have a sleep disorder, which can include insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome, the American Sleep Association says.
Insomnia is the most common specific sleep disorder, with short-term issues reported by about 30 percent of adults and chronic insomnia by 10 percent of adults, according to the association.
Adekunle said it’s common for patients of all different ages to come in with memory problems, fatigue, hyperactivity, uncontrolled hypertension and a general unwell feeling before they discover they suffer from a sleep disorder.
Sleep disorders can cause or exacerbate other medical issues, such as cardiovascular disease, Adekunle said.
Although federal guidelines recommend adults get seven or more hours of sleep every night, higher percentages of people living in the north and southeast parts of the country get less than the recommended sleep levels, according to a 2014 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
“People, especially Americans, rob ourselves of sleep,” Adekunle said. “We don’t understand the meaning and importance of relaxing and feeling refreshed. Cutting sleep even by two hours is a big deal, because you miss a whole sleep cycle. We really need to focus on sleep, and schedule it like everything else.”
People who come in for basic sleep screenings will answer questions, get their body mass index calculated and have their necks measured.
Experts at the sleep centers will be able to give people an idea of their sleep quality and simple improvement tips, such as buying a new mattress, adjusting the room temperature at night, limiting light — especially from televisions, computers or phones — and clearing clutter from the sleeping area.
“Especially for young adults and children, the growing process happens during sleep, so we need to make sure children are developing properly and get the sleep they need to grow, function and be healthy,” Adekunle said.
To make a free appointment at Bacharach’s Galloway sleep center, 54 W. Jimmie Leeds Road, call 609-748-5405. At Bacharach’s Hammonton sleep center, 600 S. White Horse Pike, call 609-878-3595.