Archive for June 2008

   For a long time in North America, afternoon naps have been associated with younge children, people recuperating from illness, or pure laziness. In our busy society, the last thing on the lengthy to-do list of most adults is to stop and catch 40 winks. Recently, however, the benefits of napping have been reconsidered by sleep experts, and even employers.

   Sleep deprivation is out society has become a serious epidemic. It is estimated that less than half of all adults and teen are getting a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, many getting 6 hours or less. Because people shoulder so many responsibilities, they are often willing to forgo a couple of extra hours each night in order to get things done. However, in order to function well, our bodies require proper rest just as they require a good diet and physical activity. Not only is sleep deprivation unhealthy, but it can be dangerous. People who are sleep deprived are more prone to accidents and making mistakes.

  Scientists are finding that just a little nap in the afternoons is beneficial to a person’s health and well  being. Sleep studies have shown that people who nap even a half hour each day generally have lower blood pressure, have a decreased risk for heart disearse, and are more productive and less stressed in their waking hours.

  Napping at work is something that has long been frowned upon y employers, and in the past could get a person fired. However, many companies are paying attention to the studies showing the benefits of napping. Corporations across America are encouraging employees to nap on their breaks, providing a quiet room with comforable seating. Employers are finding that giving workers the opportunity to take a cat nap in thier day increases productivity, decreases abenteeism, and makes for fewer accident and mistakes on the job.

   Napping is nothing new to some cultures, the most-well known of which is Spain, where the siesta lives on. In most Spanish cities, businessess still shut down from 1:30 in the afternoon, during the hottest part of the day, and people go home to nap. At 5 p.m. people emerge and businesses open, and people work and play into the night.

  If you find that sleep deprivation is making it difficult for you to cope with your responsibilities, you might want to consider incorporating a nap into your day. If you plan on napping, keep these things mind:

  1. Plan your nap for the middle of your day. If you nap within a couple of hours after rising from your regular sleep, your nap will be too light to benefit from it. If you plan it too close to your bed time, it could disrupt your sleep at night and leave you tossing and turning. Try to plan your nap for the middle of your regular day to reap the most rewards!
  2. Keep it short and sweet. Try to plan for 30-60 minutes; any longer and may leave you feeling sluggish for the rest of day and interfere with your sleep at night. If you have trouble wakin on your own, ask someone to wake you or set an alarm clock. Try to go somewhere that you can be comfortable, preferably lying down, where there will be no interruptions- shut off the phone and ask to be disturbed. While a good rest will be benefiicial, a broken, disturbed, uncomfortable rest will only serve to leave you cranky and irritable.
  3. Don’t use naps to replace regular sleep. If you’re so busy that you’re burning the midnight oill and rising at the crack of dawn, a brief nap in the day will not make up for that sleep debt you’re building up. Instead of sacrigicing sleep to get things done, try to get your proper rest at night and take a short nap in the day, and you’ll probably find yourself much more alert and productive, enabling you to complete your tasks in your waking hours with more ease.

Happy Napping!


Rest was more fragmented for females in shared bed, a study found!

    Most women love to sleep next to their husbands – if his snoring and thrashing weren’t guaranteed to keep her awake all night.

  Still, many women have mixed feelings about choosing to sleep in separate beds.

“There’s something nice about the warmth of a human body next to you, even if you’re not sleeping well,” says one woman, who has slept apart from her husband off and on for the last five of her 8-year marriage. “When you’re in bed together you’re in a little private space on your own time. Cuddling on the couch with the phone ringing isn’t the same.”

  Trouble getting a good nights rest next to your husband isn’t unusal. Women sleep less soundly when they share a bed with a romantic partner, a study published in Sleep and Biological Rhythms, found.

Surprisingly, men actually sleep better when they sleep next to a woman.

  There are a lot more couples sleeping separately than you might guess, says Mark Mahowald, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis and a professor of neurology. An estimated 23 percent of American couples sleep apart, according to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation. A Canadian study reported that 34 percent of couples hit the sack separatly.

  Women may have a tougher time sharing a bed because men are much more likely to be snorers. And often, it’s a woman who has to move to a different bed- or room, in some cases – when the decible level of her husbands snoring crescendos to an intolerable level.

  But snoring may not be the only problem for women who’d like to spoon all through the night…

Device measured movements
  For the study, researchers asked 10 committed couples, ages 21 to 31, to wear a small device called an actigraph on their wrists while they slept at home. An actigraph, which resembles a wristwatch, keeps track of a person’s movements during the night and chronicles their periods of sleep and wakefullness.

  The actigraphs showed that the womens sleep was more fragmented on nights when they shared a bed, than when they slept alone. The differences weren’t huge, but they were significant.

  The researrchers speculated that women’s fretful sleep might be caused by brain wiring differences between men and women. Women tend to be light sleepers because they historically have been the ones caring for infants, the researchers suggested.

  The actigraph’s measurements would most likely have been even more distinct if the couples in the study had been older, says sleep expert Michael Perlis. That’s because snoring becomes more of an issure as men again.

  I’m not surprised to see that men do better when sleeping in a shared. (we’re jus to irrstiable, to not want to be slep next too! :p ) But, studiest have shown that men are very dependent on close relationships – contrary to popular stereotypes, researchers studied how the quality of a relationship affects overall health and sleep in men and women.

  In general, men show mych clearer benefits from committed relationships. My own personal research showed that married men are much happeier and healthier than unmarried men. The findings are much less consistent with women.

Willing to sacrifice for a little snuggle?
  Nothing that a good night’s sleep is important to daytime functioning, the researchers suggested that couples might consider the possible deleterious effects of sleeping together and choos separate beds instead.

  But Perlis and other sleep experts aren’t convinced that this is the best plan.

“At the end of the day, there’s something essentially comforting about this behavior – so much so that people are sometimes willing to sacrifice perfect sleep to get it,” says Perlis. “I’d be hard pressed to imagine recommending with a cheerful heart for people to sleep apart.”

  Perlis and other experts suggest couples look for solutions to snoring and other sleep problems before turning to seperate beds. “I’d recommend ear plugs, whatever it takes,” Perlis says. “That’s also partly a personal judgement.”

  I personally can’t stand to listen to my guy when he snores, and it’s not all the time, so when it does happen, I do wake up. But, in return I wake him, and generally make him move to a different postion. I love sleeping on him. I don’t that I could really sleep in another room-bedm whatever! Snuggling is one of the added bonuses of sharing a life with someone, and sometimes sacrifices are just made. 🙂

How do you feel sleeping next to a noisey partner? Would you put up with it, or get up and change rooms?

…Yup, Driving Under Influence of Sleeping Pills!

  Now there has become a growing hazard on the roadway, the kind where motorist smash into parked cars, plows over sidewalks and drives in the wrong direction, all the while oblivious to the destruction thats left behind, it’s a new kind of hit and run! -These drivers aren’t drunk, stoned -they’re under the influence of Ambien, the newest popular prescription sleeping pill!

  Ambien is regularly popping up as a factor in traffic arrests, involving drivers who don’t even remember getting behind the wheel; according to a post found in The New Yourk Times.

  In some states toxicology laboratories, Ambien showed up in the top 10 list of drugs found in impaired drivers. In Wisconsin, Ambien was detected in the bloodstreams of 187 arrested drivers from 1999 to 2004.

  And as more insomniacs turn to this drug -(not like there aren’t other ways to getting a better nights sleep…) but there were 26.5 million prescriptions filled last year in the United States alone! Ambien-related arrests and accidents are expected to be on the rise! -So watch out for the mid-Westners!

   [Here is a good one]: In Washington state, officals counted 78 impaired-driving arrests in which Ambien was the factor, last year. Up from 56 cases in 2004. Some of Washington’s zombie-like drivers said they took the pill while behind the wheel so that it would kick in by bedtime!-

“Wow, that’s a really bad idea,” said sleep special Dr. Brook Judd, as assistant professor on medicine. “These newer sleep medications have a rapid onset so people can get to sleep quickly. You shouldn’t take them until you are really ready to go to bed.” >Don’t doctors pound this into patients heads when they are getting evaluated for these kind of things (drugs)?

  Several cases also involved drivers using alcohol with Ambien -a combination that magnigies the drowsy- lifeless effects of this drug.  A spokeswoman for the Food & Drug Admin told the newspaper that the agency is aware of the reports of people driving while sleepwalking, but said that the drug’s current warning lable states, …Should not be used with alcohol and in some cases could cause sleepwalking or hallucinations, which were adequate. Users are advised not to drive or operate machinersy while taking the drug. > So whats wrong with this picture? We have warning labels for a reason…right?

  Laura J. Liddicoat, the forensic toxicology supervisor at Wisconcin’s state lab, resented six cases of Ambien drivers at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Scientisits, including a man who crashed into two cars and drover a curb. This was all news to him when he came to in the police station!



Yummm…wait where did those pesky 10lbs come from again???

  Strange behavior by insomniacs taking prescription drugs, are on the rise. Ranging from binge eating to having sex all while asleep! These have raised safety questions about anti-insomnia medications such as Sanofi-Aventis’ Ambien.

  Researchers are studying cases where insomniacs taking Ambien got up in the middle of the night, binged uncontrollably, (either in food, or their partner) then remembered nothing of their actions the next day.

  I guess these sleep-induced side effects while on this medication have been around for years, but the incidence is rising because of an explosion in the drugs’ use is becoming and epidemic!

  Researchers haven’t found a cause for the sleep-related eating disorder, although patients with prior history of sleep-walking and women may even be at a higher risk.

  Doctors who are prescribing this medication should be engaging in discussions with their patients to describe and try to understand potential contributors to this behavior. The researchers identified 32 Ambien users who where experiencing sleep-related eating disorders with amnesia. Researches estimated that thousands of Ambien users in the U.S. experience sleep-related eating disorders while taking the drug.

   And they are wondering why the US is struggling with obesity, and why we are considered to be the “fattest” country! We don’t even know that we’re getting fat, just give us a pill, and a pill for that pill, and a pill for that side effect, ohhhh boy doesn’t the list ever end???

  A study even showed that patients who took other, older sleep medications didn’t experience the disorders. So why is Ambien still in the market?

  About 30 million people in the United States take sleep medications, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. By some counts that is a 50 percentile jump since the beginning of the decade. Ambien is boasting 12 BILLION nights of patient use!

  Some of the most serious side effects are short-term memory loss, and accidents involving patients who drive the next day, while still feeling drugged. (I love how we know all this information and yet ‘we’ continue to take/supply these yummie little pills)

  “Patients who have engaged in this unusual behavior at night – it’s relatively rare and bizarre,” said Donna Arand, president of the American Insomnia Association.

  “The daytime sleepiness – that drugged feeling that people may have – is probably the most worrisome because of the (vehicular) accidents that can occur.” (really…)

Memory Problems????

 Consumer group Public Citizen warned that Ambien should only be used on a limited basis because it causes temporary amnesia.

 Because the Food and Drug Admin’s reporting system is voluntary and anecdotal, “we don’t know how big of a problem it realty is… we have no way too accurately to assess the prevalence,” said the consultant of Public Citizen.

 Memory issues my be an infrequent side effect, but when it occurs it could be very costly! This certainly needs to be looked at in a more rigorous way. (Before you know it people who leave their kids in cars are going to say they were suffering from memory loss due to Ambien! GREAT!)

  This just in: * Doctors recommend against abruptly stopping the drug(s), which can cause withdrawal symptoms including seizures! * 😉

 “The risk has always been there; we are just seeing it more now because so many more people are using the drug(s),” said the program director at the sleep disorder unit at the National Institutes of Health.

  And yet we still love to eat em’ up, and then when things go wrong we want to start pointing fingers, instead of doing our own research and finding out exactly what we’re putting into our bodies!

Ambien wakes up the brain damaged

    Ambien (AKA Zolpidem) is an odd drug. Prescribed for insomnia, it seems to cause weird side effects like sleep eating and sleep driving, and getting into fights with cops. On occasion it also seems to wake people up from near vegetative states. In the case of this study a woman suffering from akinetic mutism– a state where you’re conscious, but can’t respond to the world with movement or speaking, Ambien let her function, ala Awakenings. From the press release:

…researchers conducted a study of a 48 year-old woman who developed akinetic mutism due to oxygen deprivation to her brain following an attempted suicide by hanging. The patient was totally dependent, unable to speak or walk, and was using a feeding tube for nourishment, although she was able to understand single words. Two years after the suicide attempt, she was given Zolpidem for a bout of insomnia; 20 minutes later, she was able to communicate to her family, eat by herself, and move. These effects lasted for up to three hours.

It’s not the first time Ambien has shown these kinds of effects on brain damage victims. The researchers don’t know why, but that just as adds to Ambien’s mystery- no one knows exactly why it has any of these strange cognitive effects. It’s in the top 20 of drugs prescribed in America consistently. Colin Powell not only confirmed he takes it, but that it was popular with the administration. It’s also abusable, which is the technical way of saying it can be addictive and overly fun. A pharmacist I was speaking to socially once told me that “if you want to see a soccer mom shake like a crack whore, tell her she’s out of refills on her Ambien.”

I personally stopped taking Ambien after an inappropriate conversation with my partner, where I apparently called him bad things. I say apparently, because I have no memory of this happening at all. That it can help patients to come out of a vegetative state just another confirmation that we know very little about how our drugs or our bodies work. It’s even odder than saving babies’ lives with Viagra.


I missed this yesterday, but it’s too amazing not to post. Ambien can apparently wake people up from a persistent vegetative state. The anecdotes in this Guardian story are incredible. The drug appears to improve not only brain function but also physical capabilities for people who have barely moved and have not communicated at all for years.

George Melendez was starved of oxygen when his care overturned in a pond near his home in Houston in 1998. His mother, Pat Flores, said doctors told her her son would never recover. He had suffered multi-organ failure and doctors said his body would eventually give out.

He survived and four years later, while visiting a clinic, Pat gave him a sleeping pill because his constant moaning was keeping her and her husband, Del, awake in their shared hotel room. “After 10 to 15 minutes I noticed there was no sound and I looked over,” she recalls. “Instead of finding him asleep, there he was, wide awake, looking at his surroundings. I said, ‘George’, and he said, ‘What?’ We sat up for two hours asking him questions and he answered all of them. His improvements have continued and we talk every day. He has a terrific sense of humor and he carries on running jokes from the day before.

“It is difficult to describe how it feels to get someone back who you were told you had lost for ever.”

          *While there are many physical aspects of sleep apnea, there are also psychological ones, and they may be more subtle to identify and accurately diagnose. The first aspect we see in this condition is that the person does not receive a restful night’s sleep. The reason we need sufficient sleep is because the body needs a certain amount of sleep to restore, repair and recharge the body’s major organs right down to the cellular level. If this doesn’t happen, the person will feel fatigue in the morning. Daytime drowsiness occurs, and this overwhelming desire to sleep will stay with the person throughout the day.

Lack of sleep due to sleep apnea will cause frustration and irritability, as the person needs to stay awake to operate their daily tasks. Problems with concentration and memory loss are also common pshchological aspects of sleep apnea. All of these emotions will add up and provoke a growing sense of depression. The person may even feel like they are losing their mind, as their ability to think clearly is reduced.  The only desire may be to stay in bed and get the rest they think they need, when in reality, they should be getting treatment for their sleep apnea.

In extreme cases, the psychological effects of sleep apnea may include thoughts of suicide. If the brain is continually not getting enough oxygen night after night, the quality and purpose of a person’s life steadily drops. Antidepressant drugs are not efficient in this case, ither, because the medical condition of sleep apnea needs to be diagnosed and effectively treated first.

Depression and Snoring

        * Recent research suggest a link between some cases of clinical depression and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While steadily becomes more widely known and understood in developed countries, obstructive sleep apnea remains on of the least-diagnosed health issues affecting millions of people.
In OSA sufferers, changes in structures and tissues in the throat cause the throat to collapse or close off during sleep, blocking breathing completely and leading to the signature deep and loud snore as the person finally overcomes the obstruction and gasps for a breath of air. Respiratory interference during sleep often results in alarmingly low blood oxygen levels-which in turn lead to changes in metabolism and blood chemistry, raising the risks of cardiovascular disease among other health issues, and sometimes even causing sudden death by asphyxiation. Now it appears that the chemical changes brought on by this disease may also lead to deep mental depression in some patients.
 If you sometimes wake to hear yourself snoring-or if your spouse complains of your loud snoring- it might be awfully smart for your mental as well as physical health to contact on otolaryngologist or sleep clinic to see if an attended or unattended sleep study is appropriate and indicated. However preformed, the object of such a study is to record your breathing and your blood oxygen levels throughout a night of sleep, to determine if your own throat is collapsing and stopping your breathing. If so, then a various of surgical and non-surgical treatments are available to save your life and breath-and apparently even your sanity!

heart   Although effective medical treatment for sleep apnea exists, this information has not entered routine medical practice nor does the public recognize the dangers. Unfortunately, even when apnea is suspected, it may be difficult to obtain qualified care. As a result, 95 percent of the millions of people who suffer from sleep apnea have not and may never be diagnosed, let alone properly treated. Nevertheless, the informed person with sleep apnea can take the initiative to get appropriate diagnosis and treatment and take the steps necessary to assure recovery.

  • People with coronary artery disease whose blood oxygen is lowered by sleep-disordered breathing may be at risk of ventricular arrhythmia’s and nocturnal sudden death. CPAP treatment may reduce this risk.
  • Sleep disordered breathing, including apnea, may cause coronary artery disease and hypertension. Additional research is needed to determine if treatment of the sleep-disordered breathing can prevent these impacts.

With the support of the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research, scientist are now examining the relationship between heart disease and sleep apnea. Research data that justifies a major series of studies to determine if apnea is a cause of heart disease including congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and chest pain. Some of the research suggests that apnea may indeed be a cause of the heart disease.

  • Congestive hear failure affects 2.5 million Americans, about 10% of the population.
  • 10 percent of men and 5 percent of women are estimated to have sleep apnea.
  • In obstructive sleep apnea, often marked by snoring, the right side of the heart may suffer damage because it has to pump harder to support the extra effort of the lungs trying to overcome the obstruction of the airway. *When 42 patients with heart failure were tested in a sleep lab, almost half had a severe apnea, which had not been previously diagnosed.
  • Several obese patients with both obstructive sleep apnea and heart failure were treated with CPAP, the usual treatments for OSA. Marked improvement was seen with increased energy and lessened fatigue, lower blood pressure, and a more positive outlook as a result of this treatment.
  • Central apnea may cause high blood pressure, surges of adrenaline, and irregular heartbeats. (Centrally apnea occurs without snoring and is not caused by obstruction; rather it is caused by the failure of the brain to send signals for breathing.)

public-awarness.jpgObstructive sleep apnea is overdue for public attention; it is the second leading cause of daytime fatigue, after insomnia. Poor sleep caused by sleep apnea is a major public health problem. Each night millions of men and women wage a life and death struggle with this little-recognized illness, sleep apnea syndrome. Many deaths among people in their 40’s and older which are attributed to heart disease and transportation accidents may actually be related to an unseen epidemic of sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea syndrome have a higher risk of death than the normal population. The price they pay includes a potentially crippling deterioration in daily functioning, an increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke, depression, and death either in accidents or in their sleep. 

People with sleep apnea syndrome have a higher risk of death than the normal population. The price they pay includes a potentially crippling deterioration in daily functioning, and increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke, depression, and death either in accidents or in their sleep. There are terrible costs for the family of the person with sleep apnea syndrome, who may experience irritability, mood changes, lowered sexual drive and capacity, and a reduction of intellectual ability. In addition there are major business, insurance, health, and social costs including the loss of productivity, the impact of accidents caused by a driver or worker falling asleep, and the wasted health care dollars spent on alleviating symptoms like heart disease without treating their possible underlying cause.