Sleep has been our September focus as we begin the fall season at FLASS. Specifically, we are re-dedicated to solving American’s problems with sleep disorders. The doctors and staff of FLASS are advocating the healthy and restorative power of 8 hours of sleep each night. We began our campaign–and then came the rains and hurricanes of 2017. We had barely overcome the shock of Hurricane Harvey’s distant destruction when Irma descended upon us in Florida.
A Hurricane of Sleep Problems In Florida and A Moment of Reverence
Before we discuss lost sleep, we pause for a moment to remember that lives were also lost amid billions of dollars’ worth of property. We would be remiss if we did not express our sadness at the loss of human life in the storm, despite the brave efforts of the authorities.
So, although we celebrate the return to normalcy, we pause to honor the Lives lost to Irma as well as those to Harvey.
Sleepless In Orlando
Here in Orlando, although we were spared the brunt of the storm, we certainly had recent good excuses for sleeping problems with the life-interruptions of hurricanes, storm clean-up and power outages. Everyone in the swath of the hurricane suffered blown schedules and disrupted lives. Sleep habits were blown askew by either evacuation or worry about friends and family.
Sleep Problems Revealed During Hurricane
Needless to say, we know those Floridians who had to sleep at out-of-town places, hotels, homes of friends and evacuation centers had distracting if not unfavorable sleeping conditions. Any disruptions in normal life can doubly affect people who already are fighting with sleep problems. In the aftermath of the storm, many in Orlando suffered from the power outages. The oppressive heat added to sleeping problems for normal people and exacerbated the breathing difficulties of many of our FLASS respiratory patients.
Sleep Problems Cannot Be Blamed on Hurricanes or the Sandman
However, as evidenced by our previous blog, as a society we do not need to have a hurricane to blame for our wasting our healthy sleep hours for work, play, study or television. FLASS sleep specialists continue to warn the public about the detrimental effects poor sleep habits are having on our general health and well-being. Experts at Active Beat health and fitness website stated that we have a “24/7 society and many of us burn the candle at both ends.” We utilize that time “for work, watching television, spending time on the internet…basically anything other than sleeping,”
Unwilling Victims of Sleep Disorders Need Your Help
Aside from willing sleep deprival, the National Institutes of Health reports that at least 40 million Americans struggle with chronic sleep disorders annually.
Some of these disorders have familiar names and some of them you might not recognize. First of all, we know that scientists have categorized the disorders according to several protocols.
- Some disorders are specialized by behavior. (Sleep-walking) Some are indicated by problems with the natural sleep-wake cycles. (Insomnia)
- Still, others are related to breathing problems. (apnea)
- Many disorders are indicated by the difficulty you have forcing yourself to go to sleep.
- Likewise, suffering from chronic sleepiness throughout the day is a key description for some of the disorders. This symptom could indicate apnea, or possibly narcolepsy, or others in a long list.
- The point is only a sleep specialist or professional like Dr. Fortune Alabi can make a definitive diagnosis and prescribe appropriate treatment.
Scientists have developed the above 4 ways of organizing and describing sleep problems. The reason is there are over a hundred such sleep disorders currently plaguing the populations of many developed countries.
Now let’s review some of the more common sleep disorders, which we think of as dangers to your health and well-being. Hence, we have made them Red Alert problems for September.
Patient’s Stories: Red Alert Warnings Sent These People to the Doctor
1. Mr. C states, “I just can’t sleep.” At some point, it seems like almost everyone has experienced difficulty falling asleep or remaining asleep throughout the entire night. However, if this is chronic, it indicates a true chronic condition of Insomnia.
2. Miss L says, “My legs are killing me with electric spasms so I dread laying down to sleep.” You might never have heard of Willis-Ekbom disease. But, it is often referred to as RLS, Restless legs syndrome (RLS). This is referred to as a sleep movement disorder. If your legs tingle and buzz like they are full of bees or you kick and thrash them throughout the night, you might have RLS.
3. Mr. B comments, “My wife says my snoring is keeping her awake. And she says I hold my breath until she screams and shakes me.” Abnormal breathing patterns often indicate apnea, of which there are several different types.
The American Sleep Association tell us, “There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Of the three, obstructive sleep apnea, often called OSA for short, is the most common.”
A FLASS Red Alert! Warn Your Loved Ones of the Dangers of Sleep Apnea
Your alarmed sleep partner generally tells you about this initially. No matter which of the three types you have, you actually stop breathing repeatedly during your sleep and do not breathe for a full minute or longer. The breath stoppages do not trigger you awake. So, you do not know they have even occurred. With these events happening hundreds of times per night, neither you nor your partner can enjoy a good sleep.
A Few More Apnea Facts
At FLASS, we want our readers to know that such apnea, left untreated, could cause life-threatening consequences. It can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression and more. Likewise, if you fall asleep at the wheel of a car, you could endure a critical car accident. If you or someone you love has certain symptoms, please advise them to be sleep tested. With this Red Alert Warning from Florida Lung, Asthma and Sleep Specialist, we ask you to be aware of these FLASS Red Alert signs:
Intolerably loud snoring,
A severe headache upon waking,
Dry mouth upon waking,
A Storm Cue: If you saw these symptoms in a neighborhood storm shelter, it’s worth telling them. “Hey, buddy, you quit breathin’— I had to shake you awake!”
You could be saving a life by sending someone to our 4 FLASS sleep clinics, where he would discover his condition and get treatment before his health worsened.
Red Alert: Watch For Sleep Problems Among Your Family
However, here is the real danger sign: You might not always manifest these signs clearly enough for a family member to discover the condition. Only a sleep study in a sleep laboratory or a supervised home sleep study can definitively reveal sleep apnea or another sleep problem. If you suspect a family member might have a disorder, please refer them to one of our previous articles which will tell you about “polysomnography.”
This sleep test is conducted painlessly in our state-of-the-art facilities located in Celebration, Orlando, Lake Wales and Poinciana. There is no discomfort or needles involved, and you will enjoy our hotel room vs. hospital style sleeping suites.
We know many people who dread the sleep test avoid it for budgetary reasons or because they are under-insured. However, if your apnea remains untreated, be aware that the consequences are much more expensive in comparison to apnea treatment. Your health is at stake. Next week we will tell you more about apnea and its variations.
More Stories from Patients with Sleep Problems
4. Ms. J. says, “I can fall asleep anywhere. It is like sleep attacks me—it scares me.” Narcolepsy brings the frightening threat of overwhelming sleepiness during the day. Patients are afflicted with a sort of an instant lapse of undeniable consciousness. Contrary to what people believe about this condition, narcoleptic patients do not sleep more often than normal. The problem is they cannot control when they fall asleep. It happens spontaneously within seconds.
5. Little Ashton whispers, “Mommy, why am I in the kitchen?” Do not think that only older people suffer from sleep disorders. Little Ashton is only 8 years old. You might find your child has wandered from his bed. But he has no explanation of memory of it. Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder. And it often happens to children who are in deep sleep.
It’s true that the brain is asleep, but the body might spend 5-10 minutes walking or moving as if awake. “Sleepwalking is often linked to fever, sickness, medication, or stress.”
It is also true that “sleepwalkers almost never remember what they do or say. Experts assure us that with only 10-percent of our children are affected by sleepwalking, most outgrow it in their teen years.”
As stated above, these are some of the most common sleep problems and disorders. But, have you heard of sleep drunkenness or sleep paralysis or fatal familia insomnia? We will tell you more about these unique sleep difficulties next week, in part 2 of our Problems With Sleep, a “Sleeptember” Red Alert.