May 13, 2013
Here’s another study showing a strong association between poor sleep and cancer: An Icelandic study found that men with problems falling asleep had a 70% increased risk of developing prostate cancer, and a 210% increased risk if they had trouble staying asleep. Associations were even stronger for more advanced prostate cancers. Note that I wrote about this possibility in my book, Sleep, Interrupted, which was published in 2008.
May 2, 2013
There have been more and more studies showing an association between sleep duration or sleep apnea with increased cancer risk. In this study, longer sleep duration was associated with increased colon cancer risk in people who snored or were overweight. As we know from cancer research studies, hypoxia is a major mechanism of cancer progression. Whether you stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night, or have increased levels of stress from not sleeping long enough, lower levels of oxygen can result.
April 28, 2013
Here’s an important article that everyone should read in the New York Times. The author highlights the fact that in many cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the real deficit may in your child’s sleep.
March 1, 2013
Conventional thinking states that your genes don’t change, but here’s a revealing study that shows how sleep can significantly affect levels of gene expression. In this study, even mild levels of sleep deprivation or circadian rhythm disruption were found to increase or decrease expression of up to 711 genes, based on a technique called transcriptome analysis.
Biological areas affected included the following: gene-expression regulation, chromatin modification, macromolecular metabolism, and inflammatory, immune and stress responses.
What this means is that poor sleep, whether it’s due to insufficient sleep, insomnia, or sleep apnea, can have a negative effect on your hormones, metabolism, immune system, and your stress response.
February 27, 2013
There are probably millions of people in the US every year who drink a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage just before bedtime. Reasons can include being able to sleep faster, or for red wine’s health benefits. Here’s a recent study that only repeats what’s already known about in sleep medicine for years: That alcohol can make you go into deep sleep faster, but later on, it cuts into your REM sleep, increasing the chances that you’ll have apneas or sleepwalk. The reason for this is that alcohol relaxes your throat muscles, so it’ll make you more prone to obstruction and arousals.
I disagree with the authors to moderate alcohol just before bedtime. I think everyone should stop any sort of alcohol (and food) within 3-4 hours of bedtime. Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, do you want to begin having apneas at night?
November 14, 2012
In this Expert Interview, I interview Dr. Barry Krakow about his work on PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), insomnia, and obstructive sleep apnea. These are the questions I asked:
- How did you get involved with mental health patients who have sleep disorders?
- How is insomnia and sleep apnea related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
- What’s the hard evidence that sleep-breathing disorders and insomnia go hand-in-hand?
- Why do you use the term, complex insomnia to describe the co-existance of insomnia and sleep apnea?
- Tell us about your paper that’s coming out in SLEEP on complex insomnia.
- What comes first, insomnia or sleep apnea?
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May 5, 2012
The hip-hop and pop music world was saddened to hear that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys died at at the age of 47. He had been battling parotid gland cancer. As you may know, one of my hobbies is to analyze facial features, particularly jaw configurations in relation to one’s ability to breathe and sleep properly at night. I came across this picture on MSNBC, showing Mr. Yauch’s narrow and recessed mandible, along with a very narrow and pinched in nose. Having small jaws leads to airway crowding, predisposing to breathing problems while in deep sleep during muscle relaxation.
There’s nothing more public about his health status besides his cancer, but one of his hallmark features was his raspy voice. If he had upper airway resistance syndrome, it’s likely he also had laryngopharyngeal reflux disease. Besides aggravating hoarseness, reflux can also cause chronic oral cavity, nasal and lung inflammation, potentially leading to a multitude of health problems. It’s also very likely that he didn’t like to sleep on his back, and had unrefreshing sleep. Studies are beginning to show that lack of good sleep may also be a risk factor for cancer.
All this is speculation, but celebrities are also modern humans, being susceptible to craniofacial features that can lead to sleep-related breathing disorders. Do you know of other celebrities that have small jaws or facial features?
April 15, 2012
Dr. Emerson Wickwire currently serves as Sleep Medicine Program Director at Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Associates in Columbia, Maryland. He also holds the rank of Assistant Professor, part-time, at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in sleep. Dr. Wickwire is board certified both in behavioral sleep medicine by the American Board of Sleep Medicine and in cognitive and behavioral psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. He is a pioneer in interdisciplinary approaches to sleep medicine and maximizing human performance.
In this interview, Dr. Wickwire shares his wisdom about comprehensive approaches to managing sleep apnea, including cognitive-behavioral treatment to maximize success with CPAP .
Some of the questions include:
What are cognitive-behavioral treatments (CBT)?
Have cognitive-behavioral treatments been applied to sleep disorders?
What is the psychology of sleep apnea?
What factors influence PAP use?
What are Wickwire’s Four Pillars of CPAP Success?
What is a PAP adherence risk profile?
What CBT interventions have been tested to improve PAP adherence?
And much more…
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March 23, 2012
There’s been a trend in recent years by hotels to cater to people who have sleep problems during their stay. One hotel in particular is the Benjamin Hotel in New York City, which employes a sleep concierge. A New York Times journalist chronicled his odyssey of trying to get some shut eye over the course of the night. After reading the entire article, I’m not sure if the journalist actually got a better night’s sleep.
Sleep problems while traveling are a major source of sleep deprivation, from time zone changes to unfamiliar surrounding, and disrupted sleep routines. Having a sleep program such as what the Benjamin offers is a step in the right direction, but seems limited in what they can offer (different pillow selections, higher quality bed sheets, eye masks, etc.). It seems that a hotel guest is the perfect opportunity to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea, using some of the simpler screening tests that are available. They could also do a better job of emphasizing better sleep hygiene, such as not eating close to bedtime or not watching TV just before going to bed.
How well do you sleep when you travel?
March 18, 2012
Here’s a top 10 list of the most sleep deprived and most well rested occupations. Although there are exceptions to the rule, it seems that occupations that involve heavy physical activities performed outdoors during the day are more conducive to better sleep. More sedentary jobs that are done indoors are more likely to lead to to less sleep. It’s important to note that this list only shows the total number of hours slept, not the quality of sleep.
Are you on one of these two lists, and do you think it’s accurate?