Tag Archives: Sleep disorders

Studies: 39% Of Americans Suffer Sleep Disorders

This Friday, March 17, is World Sleep Day, an annual event that aims to raise awareness of the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. This year’s campaign tagline is “Sleep is essential for health.” According to a study by the American College of Cardiology, up to 8 percent of deaths from any cause could be attributed to “poor sleep patterns”, while those with healthier sleep habits are less likely to die prematurely.

Data from Statista Consumer Insights shows that in the United States, 39 percent of respondents said they had suffered from a sleep disorder (problems falling asleep or staying asleep, insomnia, etc.) in the 12 months prior to the survey. Italians were among the worst sleepers in the survey at 48 percent reporting a sleep disorder, while India registered a higher share of good sleepers, with only 26 percent suffering from poor sleep.

Research: Sleep Disorders Links To Brain Health

Research on sleep disorders and the importance of regular shut-eye has deepened our understanding of the link between sleep and brain health.

February 2023

Overall, there are more than 80 sleep disorders, ranging from the mildly annoying to the potentially deadly. The best known is probably insomnia; about 10 percent of the general population has chronic insomnia, an inability to fall asleep for multiple nights over a period of months.

Addressing sleep disorders “is paramount to not only protecting the brain down the road but also on a day-to-day basis,” says Daniel Barone, MD, associate medical director of the Weill Cornell Center for Sleep Medicine in New York City and co-author of The Story of Sleep: From A to Zzz (Rowman & Littlefied, 2023). “One of the best ways to take care of our brains is by getting quality sleep.”

Intriguing Clues

Research on sleep disorders has led to improvements in treatment for a variety of sleep and neurologic conditions. Case in point: Studies in the late 1990s on the causes of narcolepsy with cataplexy—the condition Connor was initially diagnosed with—led to the development of dual orexin receptor agonists, drugs now commonly prescribed to treat insomnia. The researchers discovered that people with narcolepsy with cataplexy often had low levels of hypocretins (orexins), brain chemicals that sustain alertness and prevent REM from happening at the wrong time.

“Once they found out, ‘If I take away your hypocretin, it makes you sleepy,’ there was a new idea of how to make a sleeping pill,” says Rafael Pelayo, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine in California and a sleep specialist at the university’s Sleep Medicine Center.

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DR. C’S JOURNAL: SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF NARCOLEPSY

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder with daytime drowsiness, sudden episodes of falling asleep, sometimes sudden loss of muscle control, and occasionally hallucinations.

If this sounds like the bad, overbearing, uncontrolled brother of REM sleep, that is because it is. The features of REM sleep are there; sleepiness, muscle paralysis(cataplexy) and Hallucinations(dreams). This combination of symptoms can often disrupt jobs, and can be dangerous, leading to accidents.

The cause of narcolepsy is unknown, but there is an association with decreased blood levels of the neurochemical hypocretin. The disease starts in youth, and sometimes occurs and families. The patients are often overweight, and can have sleep apnea in addition.

The Diagnosis is usually made in specialist sleep centers, which find an unusually rapid entrance  into sleep, beginning in the REM stage. Normally REM sleep occurs later in the 90-minute sleep cycle.

There are a lot of different stimulants and some sleep-restoring and paralysis-reducing medications used to treat narcolepsy. This and other information may be found on the accompanying Mayo clinic article.

—Dr. C.

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DR. C’S JOURNAL: CAUSES & SYMTPOMS OF INSOMNIA

Sleep has many functions, among which are clearing the body of toxins and consolidating memory. The exact amount we need is determined by age, and genetics among another things. From what I’ve read, eight hours is required, plus or minus an hour.

That being said, there are a few  among us who are super sleepers. Going back in history this probably included Mozart and Thomas Edison: They could live healthy, productive lives with as few as three or four hours of sleep. Genetic mutations, including changes to the Orexin Gene receptor account for true super-sleepers.

Familial fatal insomnia is a genetic disease operating through prion proteins, and does not illuminate the problem of insomnia. In most people  there are two major forces which determine the onset of sleep, the circadian rhythm, and sleep pressure.

The TIMING of the sleep varies from morning larks to night owls. These shifts in the circadian rhythm is also genetic, involving many genes, including PER and CRY. Diurnal rhythm can apparently be changed, But with difficulty.

The sleep pressure is caused by the gradual daily accumulation of adenosine in the system, apparently resulting from the stripping away of the phosphate groups from the energy currency, ATP.  This can be assuaged by caffeine containing drinks, such as tea or coffee. Caffeine temporally blocks the effect of adenosine, but when it wears off, you usually go right back to your fatigue state.

INSOMNIA occurs when you do not get as much sleep as you need, and are tired in the daytime. This is a major problem for a lot of people.

Insomnia has many causes. Stress will cause an increase in Cortisone in the bloodstream which interferes with sleep. Caffeinated drinks nicotine and other stimulants can cause you to have difficulty falling asleep, and alcohol will help you fall asleep but will often result in awakening in the middle of the night when the alcohol is metabolized.

Depression, Parkinson’s, chronic pain, gastroesophageal reflux and any other medical conditions can interfere with sleep. Sleep apnea, often associated with overweight and heavy snoring, is a special problem that sometimes needs the help of a sleep specialist.

Some poor habits such as reading in bed, doing work in bed, eating at bedtime, and heavy exercise just before bed can also be a problem.
A regular routine of Preparing for sleep, such as brushing and flossing and taking a warm shower are also helpful; you can get more details by looking up “sleep hygiene”.

A lot of people take a nap, but this can cause some difficulty in going to sleep. Among things you can do to prevent insomnia include living an active life, making your bedroom comfortable for sleep, and using your bedroom ONLY for sex and sleep.

Please refer to the accompanying Mayo clinic article for more organized information.

—Dr. C.

Mayo Clinic articlehttps://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355167


Progressive Disorders: ‘Parkinson’s Disease’

Parkinson’s Disease is a MOVEMENT DISORDER. It is grouped with a number of OTHER NEURODEGENERATIVE illnesses which can show similar symptoms. When Parkinson-like problems are present in other syndromes, it is called PARKINSONISM, to distinguish it from primary Parkinson’s disease.

There is no 100% reliable sign, symptom or diagnostic test; Rather, the gold standard of diagnosis rests on the ability of experienced neurologists to discern a PATTERN of findings which together support the likelihood of Parkinson’s disease. The accuracy is about 80-90%. The 3 characteristic symptoms of PD are BRADYKINESIA, TREMOR, and RIGIDITY. Bradykinesia means SLOW MOVEMENT.

The typical Tremor is a tapping, “pill-rolling” motion that is present at rest, and DISAPPEARS ON MOTION. The Rigidity is pervasive, and patients describe it as trying to move in thick molasses. A “lead-pipe resistance”, stiffness and PAIN in the shoulder may be a first system, and not uncommonly the patient will often go to an Orthopedist or Rheumatologist. Depression, constipation, anosmia and SLEEP Disorders are common in the years leading up to the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, and DEMENTIA frequently develops.

Genetics play a role, and PD can run in Families. Environmental causes such as Trauma and anoxia can injure nerve cells, as can Toxins. MPTP contamination of a drug supply once caused a surge of Parkinsonism. Degeneration of DOPAMINERGIC nerve cells in the Substantia Nigra is the ultimate cause of PD, and accumulation of ALPHA SYNUCLEIN fibrils is a correlate of that degeneration.

Practical treatment at present aims to boost Dopamine. Administration of Levodopa, a DA precursor, if effective, a response helps to confirm the diagnosis. Magnetic and electrical stimulation of the brain have been used. Experimental injections of Dopaminergic cells into the brain is under investigation. Causing Astrocytes to differentiate into dopaminergic cells has been successful in animals.

With Celebrities such as Michael Fox and Robin Williams raising awareness, and the Mechanism understood, I am optimistic that a real cure may be found in a few years.

–Dr. C.