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Sleep expert discusses good slumber — and its challenges
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Jim Parramore

Sunday, November 4, 2012

By HOLLY KOZELSKY - Bulletin Accent Editor

The bedroom should only be for sleep and sex.

That was the advice of Jim Parramore, a registered respiratory therapist and registered polysomnopgrapher at Memorial Hospital in Martinsville. He said the key to getting a good night’s sleep was to minimize distractions in the room and keep to a regular schedule.

He gave the presentation “Sleepless in Martinsville: How to get a better night’s sleep” Tuesday at the former Henry County courthouse.

About a third of one’s life is spent sleeping, Parramore said. Sleep “is important to the body for restfulness and healing.”

“As a society, we don’t allow enough time in bed,” Parramore added.

Adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, he said. Teenagers need 9 to 10 hours and babies need 15 to 16 hours. A person should keep a consistent sleep schedule.

Parramore warned against caffeine, which he called “greatly overused in society.” Caffeine, a stimulant found in coffee, sodas and chocolate, accumulates in the body. People should not have caffeine after 2 or 3 p.m., he said.

By the same token, people should not exercise after 4 or 5 p.m. “It takes the body 4 or 5 hours to calm back down from exercise,” which releases endorphins which stimulate the body, he explained.

The body temperature lowers 11?2 to 2 degrees during sleep, so the bedroom should be cool. It also should be dark and quiet, he advised.

Parramore recommends “a good, firm mattress to support your body,” he added.

There are 99 diagnosed sleep disorders, he said: “Lack of sleep and poor sleep cost billions of dollars per year.”

Parramore addressed the four most common disorders: insomnia, periodic limb movement, obstructive apnea and narcolepsy.

• Insomnia is not being able to fall or stay asleep.

It is due to “all kinds of reasons,” Parramore said. “The best thing is to try to limit what you can in your bedroom environment.”

If you can’t fall asleep in 15 minutes, “get up and do something easy,” he said, such as read a book in the living room. “Don’t do anything stimulating right before sleep.” That even means no TV.

Transient insomnia refers to not being able to sleep because of temporary disruptions: jet lag, noisy neighbors or sleeping in a new place.

• Periodic limb movement disorder is also called restless leg. It’s when the legs or other body parts twitch or have a crawling feeling.

These involuntary movements can occur all night long while someone is asleep.

The condition is due to “a lot of different causes,” including stress, caffeine or imbalance of electrolytes or hormones. Medications may be effective to control it.

• Narcolepsy is when you “want to sleep all the time,” Parramore said. “People can fall asleep easily.” Dreams are remembered vividly.

Narcolepsy can be controlled with medications.

• Obstructive sleep apnea is when you stop breathing in your sleep.

That can be caused by being overweight or by “having a crowded airway or a large tongue” which blocks the breathing passage when laying down.

Obstructive sleep apnea “wakes you up over and over,” he said. It can lead to hypertension, depression, diabetes and weight gain.

Parramore works at The Sleep Center at Memorial Hospital. The Sleep Center provides a wide range of screenings, neurological tests and sleep studies to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.

The hospital’s sleep lab “monitors 18 channels of information,” Parramore said. That includes brain waves, chin movements, muscles, oxygen level, breathing and heart rate. “We try to see what’s going on with you and why you’re not sleeping,” he said.

The program was the first installment of what will be a monthly lunchtime program, said Lisa Watts, the development director for the Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness. The next topic will be feng shui, at noon Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the former court house.

The name of the series is “Balanced Lunch: Feeding body, mind and soul.”


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