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Getting a Good Night’s Sleep: No app for that

sleepingDo you check your Facebook page and play Words with Friends before turning in at night? Maybe your phone moonlights as an alarm, drawing you from your slumber?

Living in a digital society has its perks. We can multitask, check our mail, read the paper and share our kids’ accomplishments at all hours. But when it comes to a good night’s sleep, there is no app for that.

“Sleep is not an option,” said Dr. Francis Dayrit, of Lexington Sleep Solutions. “The brain is like a lone shark, it will get sleep any way it can.”

Most people need eight hours of sleep, a number that fluctuates depending on the person. Quality is just as important as quantity. Today, smart phones and tablets that are set to alert the very moment anything happens constantly interrupt us. If these items are in our bedroom, surely they are disrupting our slumber.

Dr. Francis Dayrit

Dr. Francis Dayrit

“A person at 60 years old would have slept 20 years of their life and if they are not sleeping well then they have had 20 years of bad sleep. This has a major impact on the quality of life,” said Dr. Dayrit.

Some sleep issues are simple and can be remedied by making small changes to everyday habits. The physicians at Lexington Sleep Solutions are able to provide a more comprehensive evaluation for sleep issues that are multi-factorial, such as airway obstruction, breathing problems, drug side effects and interactions. Frequent waking, snoring, daytime or constant sleepiness and even the uncontrollable urge to move your legs may be a signs of an underlying sleep disorder.

While sleepiness and fatigue are the most common issues associated with poor sleep, the more severe side effects include hypertension, heart disease and even stroke. So what can we do to ensure proper rest on a nightly basis? “Humans are creatures of habit, sticking to a routine is critical,” said Dr. Dayrit.

It is more important to wake up at the same time each morning than to head to bed at the same time each night. We should listen to our brains when it says we are tired. When sleepiness is physiological, naps can be helpful. Naps should not be any longer than 15-30 minutes. Also, it helps to stay away from caffeine at least eight hours before bedtime.

As for all those staying plugged into the electronics that go “ping” in the night — keep TVs out of the bedroom, turn tablets off and charge phones in a place that is out of ears’ reach. This can help the quality of your sleep.

The Sleepy Heart

heart and EKGDid you know that 1/3 of your life is spent sleeping? Sleep is not just “time out” from your daily life. It’s a time for the entire body to rest and repair itself.

Not getting a good night of sleep can lead to drowsiness during our daily activities. But that’s not all. Some sleep problems can also harm our hearts.

Sleep and waking have direct impacts on our hearts. Any time we wake from sleep, our blood pressure and heart rates increase – and our hearts have to work harder.

Some sleep-related breathing disorders also impact the heart. In Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the upper air passage is blocked, preventing oxygen from getting into the lungs and resulting in low blood oxygen levels. In Central Sleep Apnea (CSA), the air passage remains open, but the person fails to make an effort to breathe.

People with sleep-related breathing disorders are more likely to have high blood pressure and are more at risk for heart disease and stroke. The drop in oxygen from not breathing and the increase in heart rate and blood pressure caused by waking up put stress on the heart. The continued fluctuations in blood pressure eventually lead to increases in blood pressure even during the day.

Studies have shown that OSA increases the risk of death from coronary artery disease. And, an estimated 40% of people with congestive heart failure also have CSA.

The good news is that treating sleep-related disorders can actually decrease a person’s chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

Lexington Sleep Solutions, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, offers many types of treatment for sleep disorders.

Sleep disorders are treatable and appropriate treatment can lead to a healthier heart. Visit LexingtonSleepSolutions.com.

Meet Robert A. Leonardi, MD, Cardiologist with Lexington Cardiology

Dr. Robert Leonardi of Lexington Cardiology

Dr. Robert Leonardi of Lexington Cardiology

Robert A. Leonardi, MD has joined Lexington Medical Center’s network of care as a cardiologist at Lexington Cardiology.

We asked Dr. Leonardi why he chose to pursue cardiology and what he likes about the job.

LMC: Why did you want to become a doctor?
Dr. Leonardi: I was a wildlife biology major at Clemson and thought I would pursue a career managing private hunting and fishing properties. But during an animal physiology class, I became interested in cardiac physiology. That’s when I started working toward medical school.

LMC: When did you know that you wanted to be an interventional cardiologist?
Dr. Leonardi: In medical school, I was working a shift in the emergency room when a hospital employee suffered a STEMI, one of the most dangerous types of heart attacks, where an artery is completely blocked. I was able to observe the cardiologists unblock the artery in a catheterization lab procedure. Their work produced an immediate result, stopping a life-threatening heart attack.

LMC: What are your favorite parts of the job?
Dr. Leonardi: I’ve completed fellowships in interventional cardiology and structural interventional cardiology. I enjoy performing procedures that can help fix problems related to the structure of the heart and the heart valves.

Lexington Cardiology has two locations.

Downtown Columbia
2601 Laurel Street
Suite 260
Columbia, SC 29204
(803) 744-4900

West Columbia
131 Sunset Court
West Columbia, SC 29169
(803) 744-4940

lmcLexingtonCardiology.com