By- Dr. Thomas RajanMarch 7-13 marks National Sleep Awareness Week, and it is a great opportunity to take the time to highlight the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.According to the National Sleep Foundation 74% of American adults experience sleeping problems a few nights a week or more, 39% get less than seven hours of sleep each weeknight, and 37% are so sleepy during the day that it interferes with daily activities.One of the reasons some people may not be getting a good night’s sleep is because of sleep apnea. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer. According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep apnea affects more than twelve million Americans. Risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age of forty, but sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, even children. Yet still because of the lack of awareness by the public and healthcare professionals, the vast majority remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated, despite the fact that this serious disorder can have significant consequences.Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, and headaches. Moreover, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle crashes. Fortunately, sleep apnea can be diagnosed and treated. Several treatment options exist, and research into additional options continues. Please talk to your primary care provider for more information on how you can get a better night’s sleep.