November 1st, 2011
12:53 PM ET
The autumn equinox has come and gone, but many of us here in the Midwest have continued to fool ourselves that it is really just late summer.
But the game is over once we turn the clocks back and we start driving home from work in the dark. The clock change that is mandated by the end of daylight saving time is really the marker for many people that a change in seasons has happened.
For people who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the change in autumn means more hours of darkness and colder weather, which keeps many people indoors. As a result, many feel more depressed and have more sleep disturbance as well as daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
October 12th, 2011
01:06 PM ET
It was a normal follow-up to see how Kurt was adjusting to his CPAP, the continuous positive airway pressure machine prescribed for people with sleep apnea. Not only did he report having a pretty easy time of getting used to sticking some plastic up his nose every night, he said he also felt more rested when he awoke and was more alert throughout the day.
When he began to tell me how happy his wife was, I thought that he was going to say, as many men do, that she was glad that he was no longer snoring or that she was relieved that he no longer stopped breathing during the night. Instead, he grinned as he related how, in the past month, he and his wife had more sex than they had had in the past two years. “Hey doc, if you want men to use this thing, just get the word out that it helps with ED (erectile dysfunction). They’ll be in here begging you for a CPAP.”
September 27th, 2011
02:17 PM ET
Her parents were concerned that she had a serious medical or psychological problem, but the only thing that Lori cared about was being able to go to sleepovers without dying of embarrassment.
Lori was 9 years old and was still wetting the bed several times a week.
September 27th, 2011
07:19 AM ET
It’s not uncommon for teens to stay up late – finishing school assignments, talking or emailing with friends, being involved in social activities, or working a job.
A study published in Preventive Medicine reveals that more than two-thirds of U.S. teens report they’re getting less than eight hours sleep on school nights, and researchers say that lack of sufficient sleep is associated with risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, being sexually active, using marijuana, lower physical activity, and feeling sad or helpless.
“Insufficient sleep on school nights is common and is associated with participation in health risk behaviors including substance use, fighting, and consideration of suicide,” according to lead author Lela R. McKnight-Eily of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who explained that while previous research revealed the large sleep deficit experienced by many teens, this is the first large-scale national research to associate a variety sleep behaviors among teens with health risk behaviors using Youth Risk Behavior Survey data. Other studies have made this link with some of the risk behaviors studied, but generally much smaller or non-national samples.
September 13th, 2011
01:53 PM ET
I want to follow up on a piece I wrote two weeks ago about getting kids back on a good sleep schedule.
School was just starting and each year most children need to get out of the summer mode and back to a sleep/wake cycle that allows them to thrive during the school year. Now that most kids and teens are back to school, I would like to address another important topic that I wish educators would give some attention: School start times.
August 30th, 2011
04:20 PM ET
It is that time of year again. It is starting to get dark earlier. In some parts of the country, there's a chill in the air at night. And the kids have to go back to school.
For many families, there are some rough days and maybe even weeks ahead as they help their children transition back to a schedule that requires them to get up earlier than they did in the summer.
School-aged children need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep a night. If kids have been going to bed at 10 or 11 p.m. in the summer, it is unlikely that they can suddenly fall asleep at 8 p.m. the night before school starts back. It is best to gradually readjust the bedtime one to two weeks before school starts so that the kids are going to bed 15 minutes earlier every couple of nights until the desired bedtime is reached.
August 29th, 2011
04:01 PM ET
A lack of deep sleep may be one of the reasons why people develop high blood pressure. A study of older men published Monday found that those who got the least amount of deep sleep were 80% more likely to develop high blood pressure, compared to those who got longer, less interrupted sleep.
Researchers studied almost 800 men over the age of 65 who didn't have hypertension when the study started. They were given at-home sleep tests that looked at their sleep patterns and measured their non-rapid eye movement sleep, also known as "slow wave sleep," or deep sleep. Researchers monitored the men's blood pressure changes for a little more than 3 years. Results were published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association.
August 16th, 2011
01:05 PM ET
Most of us have drifted off to sleep, only to awaken with a sudden start. This is a benign occurrence known as a hypnic jerk.
There is a similar condition in which people awaken suddenly because they hear a loud noise in their head. They usually describe it as a loud bang or an explosion. In fact, this phenomenon is called exploding head syndrome.
Like hypnic jerks (or sleep starts), this is a completely benign condition. A hypnic jerk can accompany the clash of cymbals that people hear. Even though benign, it can be very disturbing to experience, and people often think that they are having a stroke.
August 15th, 2011
08:06 AM ET
Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.
Question asked by Ken from Palm Springs, California:
I'm about to travel to the other side of the world for a week and have to work the day after I get back. I've heard melatonin can help prevent jet lag when I return and would rather take that than medicine. What else can I do?
August 2nd, 2011
12:19 PM ET
It is frustrating, to both patients and doctors, that modern medical science often lacks understanding of or treatment for common, everyday ailments.
One such ailment, leg cramps, is very common and yet poorly understood. It often plagues people at night, and therefore “sleep-related leg cramps” is recognized as a bona fide sleep disorder by the International Classification of Sleep Disorders.
Most people have had a “charley horse” and know that leg cramps can be quite painful. Leg cramps result from the sudden, intense and involuntary contraction of a muscle or muscle group. They usually occur in the calf muscle or the small muscles of the feet.
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.