March 11, 2019

Becky Carter: How Blue Ridge Regional Hospital Helps You Fall Asleep, Stay Asleep and Address Sleep Problems

By Becky Carter
President/Chief Nursing Officer, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital

Shuteye. ZZZZZs. Slumber. Whatever you call it, sleep is an often overlooked but significant pillar of health.

High quality, uninterrupted sleep is key to keeping our bodies healthy and promoting the healing process. Our modern world, however, throws obstacles in front of us at nearly every turn that threaten sound sleep, from the overuse of electronic devices to simply not allowing enough time for rest in our increasingly busy lives. Blue Ridge Regional Hospital is here to offer help, care and treatment to ensure that you get the rest you need.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), lack of sleep has been linked to a host of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Conversely, too much sleep can also cause health problems, like raising one’s risk for heart attack and stroke. The definition of adequate rest differs with age and developmental stage, and aside from the amount of sleep we need, there is a wide range of sleep problems that your primary care provider can help you address, such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

What constitutes “enough sleep”? To a large extent, it depends on your age. The Mayo Clinic recommends that newborns, babies and children up to five years old get anywhere from 10 to 17 hours per day, children 6-13 years of age should get 9 to 11 hours, middle and older teens 8-10 hours, and adults 7 to 9 hours. Other factors can influence recommendations for sleep per night, including pregnancy and being 55 or older.

Mission Health primary care physicians can help patients with sleep challenges, from trouble falling asleep to sleep apnea, and counsel them about the importance of establishing and maintaining good nighttime routines, sometimes referred to as “sleep hygiene.” For those who have trouble falling and staying asleep or simply feel tired during the day, it’s important to look at sleep hygiene, or your approach to sleep – when, where, how and in conjunction with what other activities.

Are you staying stimulated by noise and light right up until the moment you go to bed? Do you eat dinner late or skip daily exercise? Your primary care physician will talk with you about the fact that sleep quality has been shown to improve markedly if you ban electronic devices from the bedroom, have a routine where you go to bed and get up at similar times every day – including weekends, refrain from eating too late, limit your alcohol consumption and make sure you get some daily exercise. Many people’s sleep struggles lessen when they practice healthy sleep habits. If you still find yourself struggling, talk with your doctor to evaluate your situation more completely.

Sleep apnea is a medical condition with serious implications; sufferers actually stop breathing for a brief periods many times throughout the night. The resulting, repetitive oxygen deficit increases patients’ risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, depression, diabetes and more. BRRH offers Sleep Study services for those who are referred by their physicians for sleep apnea or other sleep disorder testing. The study involves staying with us overnight where you are monitored over the course of your sleep cycle.

A sleep study can reveal what sleep disorder may be present, including two separate types of sleep apnea and what may be required to treat it, such as getting a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. This device is attached to a mask that a patient wears while they sleep. It regulates their breathing, ensuring that they consistently receive adequate oxygen throughout the night. While some patients can participate in our sleep study program at home, our sleep center incorporates the option to try using a CPAP, and saves them a second study should they end up needing one.

I encourage you to investigate the options BRRH offers to assist you with getting more – and top quality – rest. It really is the foundation for good health.

Rebecca W. Carter, MSN, RN, FACHE, is President and Chief Nursing Officer of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. Carter has served in senior hospital management for over 20 years and previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, also a part of the Mission Health system.

Ms. Carter is board certified in healthcare management and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). A native of North Carolina, she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Carter is currently a resident of Burnsville.

Becky Carter