Sleep Disorders and Sleep Apnea

Steve Feinsilver, director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Mount Sinai, specializes in treating sleep disorders. Nearly 1,500 patients see him each year.

The upcoming holiday season is especially stressful (think: family get-togethers and highly caloric dishes) and so the quality of your sleep is that much more important.

“The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that between 50 and 70 million American adults have a sleep disorder,” Feinsilver said. “Studies show that good sleep hygiene is essential for your overall health- and that getting enough good sleep helps you eat less.”

In fact, sleep deprivation often leads to weight gain. Disorders like sleep apnea, which is characterized by poor breathing during sleep, can actually shorten your life span if left untreated.

“It’s normal to have a little irregular breathing during sleep, but an apnea event is a 10-second pause in your breathing that wakes you up very slightly,” Feinsilver explained. “To have the disease sleep apnea, you need to have 10 or more apnea events an hour.”

“It probably gets worse as you get older, it’s more common in men than women, and more common in people that are overweight,” Feinsilver continued. “Some people are more anatomically predisposed to this because they have what we call ‘crowded throats’- the muscles of the tongue and soft palate just don’t leave them as much room as the throat to breathe through.”