March 28th, 2012
09:01 AM ET
Glenn Keller is one of seven CNN viewers participating in the 2012 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. At the beginning of the challenge, Keller weighed more than 300 pounds and suffered from sleep apnea due to his obesity.
It's been ten years or so now that I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. I was told that it was a result of my being overweight. The process started with a sleep study when I spent the night in a sleep lab so that the degree of sleep apnea could be diagnosed. That way they would be able to determine settings for my new companion, a C.P.A.P. (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.
I use the term "companion" because the machine goes everywhere with me. I've been unable to go anywhere without it for years and I mean anywhere.
It has gone more places with me than my wife.
When I went on a cruise ... it was there.
When I go to Louisiana to visit my mother - it's right there.
Spend a night somewhere in a motel ... and it's right there.
And yes, it's in the truck also, every time it moves.
February 17th, 2012
03:20 PM ET
The classic pediatric sleep apnea patient is a skinny 6-year-old with chronic congestion and dark circles under his eyes.
We still see many kids in the sleep center who match this profile, but over the past 10 years, a new clinical picture has emerged. Coinciding with the dramatic rise in childhood obesity, there is a clear change in our younger patients.
We now see many overweight children in the sleep clinic who have obstructive sleep apnea that resembles the adult version.
The thin child with OSA does not usually act sleepy in the daytime. On the contrary, they often act hyperactive or inattentive. In fact, their symptoms can mimic attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
February 1st, 2012
09:00 AM ET
This week, a study was presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference that caught my eye. It's a small study that adds further evidence to what most sleep experts already know - that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is linked with a high risk of having silent strokes.
OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea, according to the National Institutes of Health. More than 12 million Americans are believed to suffer from this sleep disorder. People with sleep apnea stop breathing for 10 to 20 seconds or longer and this can happen at least 20 to 30 times an hour.
In this new study, researchers at Dresden University in Germany, looked at silent strokes and the prevalence of OSA in 56 patients who had been hospitalized for a major stroke.
January 17th, 2012
11:14 AM ET
Patients often come to me with symptoms they describe as "fatigue" or "tiredness." The first task is to tease out exactly what they mean. To a sleep doctor, fatigue and tiredness usually mean the body needs or wants to rest, whereas "sleepiness" suggests that the mind wants to rest.
Patients with any pain syndrome often come in complaining of fatigue or tiredness. Their bodies have trouble falling and staying asleep. Sleep and pain are both ultimately controlled by the central nervous system. Poor sleep and pain form a vicious cycle - uncontrolled pain makes sleep difficult (if not impossible) and, in turn, the resulting poor sleep makes it more difficult to adequately control the pain.
Most physicians know very well that poorly controlled pain will cause difficulty sleeping. But they often don’t think about the patient having a separate sleep disorder that may be fueling the pain.
December 20th, 2011
04:01 PM ET
A new study finds that many police officers might be better at their jobs, if they had more and better sleep.
Researchers screened officers for sleeping disorders and found that 40% had at least one disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia.
Those with sleeping disorders were 51% more likely to fall asleep while driving, 63% more likely to violate safety protocols, 43% more likely to make administrative errors, and 22% more likely to be injured on the job, compared to officers reporting no sleeping disorders.
People had more bad things to say, too, about police officers who happen to sleep poorly, with citizens filing 35% more complaints against those with sleeping disorders. FULL POST
December 20th, 2011
12:27 PM ET
Last year around this time, my friend Sue called worried about her college-age son Charlie because he seemed to be sleeping away his whole Christmas vacation.
“At first, I thought, OK, he is just catching up because he was up many nights studying for finals. But now two weeks have gone by and he is still sleeping the day away.”
There are a number of reasons that college kids or teens could be sleeping all day. As my friend suspected, we do indeed try to “catch up” on sleep. It seems to work to a certain extent, but we can’t make up for the full amount of sleep lost. FULL POST
December 6th, 2011
07:53 AM ET
Zach was a life-long teeth grinder.
“It seemed that as soon as his teeth came in, he started grinding," his mother told me.
It was so loud and frequent that Zach was given his own room because his little brother couldn't get any sleep when they shared. For years he had slept at the end of the hall far from his parents’ and his brother’s room, so one suspected that the grinding was getting worse.
When a dentist noticed a progressive worsening of wear on his patient's teeth, he discussed his concerns about a possible underlying sleep disorder with both Zach and his mother. They then came to me.
November 24th, 2011
11:58 AM ET
Stores used to open at 6 a.m. on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving. Sure, you spent all night in a tent outside, but at least you caught SOME shut eye. Now the big chains like Target, Kohl's and Best Buy are opening at midnight. That’s six extra hours of sales time. What’s a dedicated shopper to do but stay up all night?
An estimated 152 million people are expected to shop over Black Friday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s 152 million people who could be feeling just a little bit exhausted, not to mention the thousands of employees who are working this weekend, including those on overnight shifts.
Anytime you mess with your body’s natural circadian rhythm there are going to be consequences. First to go is your mood, says CNN sleep expert Lisa Shives. You’ll be irritable and impatient, making the mall a perfect storm of stress. Next to go is your metabolism – so stay away from the food court.
November 9th, 2011
07:31 AM ET
We all know the symptoms. Your eyelids droop and your vision becomes blurry. Your head feels so heavy that you can’t hold it up and so your chin keeps falling toward your chest. You can’t stop yawning. Diagnosis is clear to most of us: You’re sleepy.
I know what it feels like and looks like and so do you. So why do many surveys show that most of us have driven while drowsy and many of us do so on a regular basis?
Well, for one thing, we are not a culture that takes sleep seriously. We think that when our lives become so busy that we don’t see how we can fit everything into a 24-hour day, that we can find extra hours by carving it out of our sleep time.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.