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8/13/2013 - Overall health burden severe for those with specific sleep disorder

People with sleep disorders tend to develop other, more serious, ailments.

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that presents itself through a variety of symptoms, including difficulty sleepy during the night and a general sense of listlessness and fatigue during the day. While these conditions can be a major issue for those who experience it, a new round of research suggests that the affliction may be even more serious than previously believed.

At the recent annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, researchers showed that individuals with narcolepsy are more likely to have other complications as well, such as digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease and mental illness.

Monica Gow, executive director and co-founder of the organization Wake Up Narcolepsy, indicated that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

"This important new study creates a far-reaching call to action for increased awareness and recognition of the symptoms and co-morbidities of narcolepsy, for better and earlier diagnosis, and for more regular screenings," said Gow.

Sleep disorders are largely responsible for many of the car accidents that take place each year, often requiring auto insurance claims. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 20% of all serious traffic accidents that take place annually in the U.S. are linked to drowsiness.

Though people who believe their sleep problems are more serious ought to seek help from a medical professional, CNN Health recently spoke with Nancy Rothstein, board member for the American Sleep Apnea Association, about how individuals can get more rest this summer.

One of the best ways, according to Rothstein, is to create a so-called "sleep sanctuary." This involves making conditions amenable to sleep, such as having the temperature somewhat cool, darkening the room and turning off all forms of electronics, specifically the TV and computer.

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