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Sleep Disorders

August 26, 2011

Get the Rest You Need For a Sharper Mind

Sleep loss can take a toll on our physical and emotional health. It’s a problem that affects millions of Americans. Today about 20% of Americans report that they get less than 6 hours of sleep on average and the number of Americans that report that they get 8 hours or more has decreased. Often times, our sleep deficit is related to excessive caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Often times it is related to working long hours, stress from work, or from our personal lives. Whatever, the cause, unfortunately, lost sleep had been linked with poor work performance, driving accidents, relationship problems, as well as mood problems, such as anger and depression. Even health risks, such as heart disease , obesity, and diabetes have all been linked with chronic sleep loss. People just don’t realize how important sleep is and the consequences of not getting a good night sleep on a regular basis. Many people do not mention sleep problems to their doctors because they don’t think anything can be done about it.

Sleep experts suggest there are some solutions that we can try ourselves to improve sleep such as turning off the computer or television earlier, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol. Experts also ad-vise developing a calming ritual before bedtime that helps you break from the days tensions and doesn’t involve eating, exercise, or watching TV. Calming activities differ for everyone, but in general you should avoid activities that might require problem solving or important decision making. Taking a hot shower and reading a book are examples of activities that lend themselves well to being calming rituals. Beyond that, sleep medications and behavioral treatment can be effective treatment for chronic insomnia, especially if its related to anxiety and/or depression. Behavior therapy involves changing negative thoughts and expectations that may worsen the insomnia. Medications can be useful in breaking the pattern of insomnia. However, if these tips don’t help, an evaluation by an expert on sleep disorders is recommended.

There are many different disorders of sleep. In this article, we will focus on 4 of the more common sleep disorders: Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome with hypersomnolence, Periodic Limb Movement Syndrome/ Restless Leg Syndrome, REM Behavior Disorder, and Insomnia. We consulted one such expert, Dr. Irvine Mason, a Board certified neurologist, who specializes in non-narcotic pain management and sleep disorders. His practice also has a sleep lab, which is accredited by The Joint Commission. He is also board certified in pain management and forensic medicine. His undergraduate degree is from The University of Miami. He has been in practice for 23 years. His current practice is in Jupiter, Florida.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a condition in which pauses in breathing occur during sleep because the airway has become narrowed, blocked or floppy. A pause in breath is referred to as an apnea episode. A person with this disorder is not aware of the apnea episodes during the night. Often family members witness the periods of apnea. A person with obstructive sleep apnea usually begins snoring heavily soon after falling asleep. Often the snoring gets louder, and is then interrupted by a long silent period during which there is no breathing. This is followed by a loud snort and gasp, as the person attempts to breathe. This pattern is repeated throughout the night. Dr. Mason reports that risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea are: obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Patients with a history of heart disease, or report daytime sleepiness have a higher risk for developing the disorder. It may be reversible with weight loss, and it is treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which is delivered via a machine with a mask that is worn at bedtime.

Rapid Eye Movement Behavior Disorder (RBD) is a condition where a person acts out their dreams. In other words, they physically move limbs or even get up and engage in activity normally associated with waking. Sometimes the person shouts out or grunts. It is similar to other sleep disorders that involve motor activity, such as sleep walking, and periodic limb movement disorder. Dr. Mason explains, “REM Behavior disorder may be secondary to a dopamine deficiency, or a vitamin deficiency or may even be idiopathic”. He reports that this disorder is a very strong predictor of Parkinson’s Disease and is treated with benzodiazepenes.

Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint. It is not defined by total sleep time but by trouble falling or staying asleep. It is the inability to obtain sleep that is sufficiently long or that results in feeling fully rested or restored the following day. Dr. Mason states “Insomnia is reversible, and treatment includes good sleep hygiene, FDA approved medications, and removal of alcohol, caffeine, or other stimulants taken late in the day”. He further explains, ”All of these disorders can be diagnosed by a Polysomnography, which is an overnight sleep study that monitors snoring, oxygenation, all stages of sleep, limb movements, brain waves and heart function”.

If you have any additional questions for Dr. Irvine Mason, he may be contacted at:

Neurology and Pain Management of the Palm Beaches
658 West Indiantown Road Suite 212
Jupiter Florida, 33458
561-743-4518 Sleep Disorder Center

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