A news story from the BBC mentioned today that a truck driver has been acquitted of killing the driver of another vehicle because the truck driver had been diagnosed with sleep apnea. In the aftermath of the trial, the victim’s father is calling for Great Britain to test all truckers for sleep apnea.

This is an understandable reaction. And the concept of testing is not without merit. In fact, we certainly support the testing of over the road truckers, bus drivers, pilots, air traffic controllers … anyone, in fact, who demonstrates certain risk factors of sleep apnea.

That’s important. “Blanket” testing of everybody, as some have called for, is not reasonable. But it certainly is reasonable to find a way to identify people who are at risk and, if their employment requires them to have the safety of others in their hands, get them tested for sleep apnea.

Certain factors that should be considered collectively are body mass index, neck circumference measurement, and signs of poor sleep … excessive daytime tiredness, frequent headaches, tendency to doze off even briefly at inappropriate times.

What do you think?

It’s no coincidence that the National Sleep Foundation schedules National Sleep Awareness Week to coincide with that time of year that we “spring forward” and supposedly “lose” an hour of sleep.

The week of March 7-13 is National Sleep Awareness Week in the US.

Sleep cycles can be affected since the time change occurs overnight.

While most people can handle the time change without difficulty, there are those who typically get a limited amount of sleep and will feel the impact more than others.

The key isn’t trying to go to bed an hour earlier on Saturday night … the key is making sure you get enough sleep all year long.  That means consistent schedules for going to bed at a reasonable time and getting up at the same time every morning … even on weekends.  Practicing good sleep hygiene can help us all to achieve needed amounts of restful sleep.  Even though our society seems to place an emphasis on late-night activities, including work, we need to place the emphasis on our health.  Sleep is every bit as important to one’s health as diet and exercise.

 

We’ve all heard the old saw that on Thanksgiving, it’s all the turkey that makes you sleepy.  Apparently because turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid.  So does milk, so it’s not too surprising that people think warm milk helps you fall asleep.

Wrong on both counts.  Unless, of course, you intend to eat several turkeys at one sitting … or drink gallons of warm milk.  The fact is, neither contains enough tryptophan to make one fall asleep.

There are lots of myths out there about sleep.  For instance, alcohol helps you sleep.  While alcohol may help you to drop off to sleep a little more quickly than usual, it also then disrupts your sleep, not permitting you to get the proper refreshing, restorative sleep that your body needs.

Or, watching TV in bed helps you fall asleep.  Wrong, again.  The blue light emitted by most modern televisions actually tricks your brain into thinking it’s time to be up and awake.  As a result, your body releases much less melatonin, the hormone that eases you into sleep, than it would otherwise.

Myths are just that … old stories that have been around so long that we just take them for granted.  But when it comes to your sleep, or any aspect of your health, the best advice comes from your doctor.

 

 

The Sleep Wellness Institute today opens its second sleep center location … in Mequon, WI.  With the addition of the second location, Sleep Wellness now offers 14 sleep study rooms and physician directed care that is provided by six highly regarded sleep medicine physicians.

The physicians are:  Don Harden, MD, Medical Director; JoAnna Galezowska, MD; Marc Rasansky, MD; Gary Leo, DO; Michael Connor, DO; and Dima Adl, MD.

One convenient telephone number may be used to access services at both the Mequon and West Allis locations?:  414-336-3000. And information on The Sleep Wellness Institute is available online at www.sleepwellandlive.com.

The Mequon sleep lab is the former Columbia St. Mary’s sleep disorders center located at 11725 N. Port Washington Road.  We and Columbia St. Mary’s have formed a partnership to provide convenient, high quality sleep disorders services to patients throughout southeastern Wisconsin, as well as clear, concise, and prompt reports to referring physicians.

Well, you can’t say they give up easily.  Once again, the makers of Nyquil cough and sleep medicine are once again running commercials that display loud snoring as normal sleep behavior.  It doesn’t make any difference that the “sleeper” is New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees … the fact remains that the kind of snoring Nyquil uses as an example of someone apparently sleeping soundly, is also the kind of snoring that is a symptom of someone who is not sleeping well at all … it is a common symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the sleep disorder that afflicts 18 million Americans.

If you’ve seen the commercial, and Drew’s snoring seems all too familiar to you, ask yourself this question:  “Do I feel rested during the day?”  It you can’t answer “Yes,” it’s time to see your doctor.

Come on, Nyquil.  “Man” up and find a better way to get your point across.  There’s nothing cute or funny about sleep apnea.

It probably should come as no surprise … with the growth in popularity of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, there is a sudden explosion of people offering everything from sleep disorders advice to “cures.”  And, as in anything else, caution is definitely needed.

This in no way is intended to mean that all people and organizations that post messages about sleep disorders on social media sites are trying to lead you astray.  Many very legitimate sources of information are out there, including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the American Sleep Apnea Association, and providers of care, such as we, ourselves.

But there are definitely people trying to capitalize on the recent surge of awareness of sleep disorders, striving to play on false hope to promote or sell a product.  And they have agendas that don’t always place the welfare of patients or buyers at the top of the list.  Two of the most suspect types of posters are those who are trying to sell an “alternative” treatment product and those who trumpet “cures” for conditions such as sleep apnea.  There is even one company that masquerades as a sleep disorders “association,” when all it is trying to do is sell it’s product.  If their product is good, why do they feel the need to use a name that implies they are something that they truly are not?

When seeking advice or actual help for sleep disorders, the way to be sure you are “talking” online with a person or organization that is really trying to be of service to you is by checking the following:  1.  If they are a sleep disorders center, are they accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine?  2.  If they claim to be a treatment professional, find out if they are actually board-certified in sleep medicine.  If they cannot meet one of these criteria, they are at the very least not likely to have accurate, proven information.

It’s like everything else … take the time to be sure.  Your health and well-being will be better served if you do.

 

Mark R. Stoiber, 47, President of the Sleep Wellness Institute in West Allis (Milwaukee), Wis.,  passed away unexpectedly on July 2, 2010.

Mark, along with his business partner and dear friend, Ron Baake, was co-owner of the Sleep Wellness Institute since its inception in 1994.  He had been involved in helping people with sleep disorders for more than 20 years.  He was the co-founder and initial driving force behind the non-profit Reggie White Sleep Disorders Research and Education Foundation.

Mark graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in allied health and earned his polysomnographic  technologist registration at the Stanford School of  Sleep Medicine.  He formerly served as the coordinator of the sleep disorders center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.  He was a frequent public speaker and lecturer on sleep disorders topics and was the author of “How to Guarantee Your Experience with CPAP is a Happy One.”

Always alert to new opportunities to serve, Mark created the CPAP2GO retail stores that now operate in the Milwaukee area.  He recognized that many people get inferior customer service from DME providers, and correctly determined that by offering convenient locations and hours, excellent customer service, and a wide selection of products from which to choose the stores would be successful in reaching CPAP users.

Mark’s knowledge, creativity, wit and willingness to think outside the box made him great.  He will be sorely missed.

Golfers, don’t miss the chance to play one of the midwest’s most highly rated courses and support the Mission of the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Foundation as Philips Respironics hosts the 4th Annual “Reggie” on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the 5-star rated Hawks View Golf Club in Lake Geneva, Wis.

For just $700 per foursome, you can enjoy a sensational day of golf, mingling with celebrities, great food, a dynamite auction, and most importantly helping a great cause!  Each foursome will be matched with a celebrity golfer from the worlds of sports, television and radio, or with a Wisconsin golf pro who can offer you tips to improve your game as you play a spectacular course.  To check out Hawks View, please click here.

Among the celebrities already signed up to play are former Green Bay Packers star fullback William Henderson and former Packer and now golf long drive champion Bill Schroeder.  Bill will also put on a special Trick Shot and Long Drive Exhibition sponsored by Advanced Ear Nose and Throat Specialists of Milwaukee.  Additional celebrities include Milwaukee Wave Head Coach Keith Tozer, Milwaukee Panthers Head Basketball Coach Rob Jeter, Stephanie Sutton of WISN-TV Sports, Golf radio host Chuck Garbedian, former Wisconsin Badger football stars Derek Engler, Jamie Vanderveldt and Tarek Saleh, former Marquette University and Los Angeles Laker star Tony Smith, and a group from Todays TMJ4 that includes Susan Kim, Lance Allan, Brian Gotter, and Heather Shannon.

For more information or to sign up for the event, please click here.

And by the way, we’ve decided that having a thunderstorm in the middle of the event last year wasn’t such a great idea, so we’ll be skipping that this time around!

Steve Gardner

Executive Director

A driver carrying equipment for Carrie Underwood’s Play tour was killed Saturday morning when his truck crashed on Interstate 95 just outside Stonington, Conn.  Police reports indicate that the truck was traveling at a high rate of speed but there were no skid marks on the pavement to indicate that the driver had tried to stop before running off the road.

The questions must be asked:  did he have sleep apnea?  Was he a drowsy driver?  The pattern described in reports to date are consistent with what is often seen in such accidents.  If post-mortem tests do not show any sort of impairment, either medical or drug-related, what would cause a professional driver to lose control and die a fiery death without even trying to stop or regain control?

This was obviously a personal loss for Ms. Underwood, who gave a teary salute to the driver in her concert Saturday night (see below).  To the driver’s family and to Ms. Underwood and her road crew, we offer our deepest condolences.  To everybody, we urge you to recognize the need to get sufficient sleep and, if you have symptoms of sleep apnea – such as snoring at night and exhaustion during the day – get tested before you or someone else on the road dies.

Click here to see a news report of the accident and Ms. Underwood’s tribute.

In the highly competitive world of marketing one’s products, the folks at Vicks have unintentionally (I hope) made a blunder in promoting their night time cough medicine, Nyquil.

Nyquil’s current ad features people asleep and snoring rather loudly.  Unfortunately, it looks more like an advertisement promoting sleep apnea.  One man, in particular, fits the sleep apnea profile to a “T.”  He’s overweight, nearing middle age, and snoring like a freight train.

This is not intended as a comment on Nyquil’s effectiveness.  Rather, this is a comment about how an advertising agency apparently sold a client on using one of America’s increasingly common and dangerous health problems to sell a product that has nothing to do with that health problem.

Not a very good idea.

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