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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.

Preliminary reports of the tragic death of Chicago Bears defensive end Gaines Adams, 26, indicate that he suffered a heart attack, possibly in his sleep (according to NBC).  Reports have also stated that he had an enlarged heart, which is a common side effect of obstructive sleep apnea.  Therefore, unfortunately, it is possible that sleep apnea played a role in his untimely death.

Professional athletes, especially those who play such positions as defensive or offense line in football, are at significant risk for sleep apnea.  They usually have larger than normal necks, which is a definite risk factor, and their body mass index will often be significantly higher than the norm.  For instance, someone who is 6’3″ tall and weighs 319 pounds has a body mass index of 40, which places them at SEVERE risk of sleep apnea.  If their neck measurement is 17″ or more, they are at increased risk.  Does that sound like anybody on your favorite team?

It is important that athletes, their families, their doctors, team trainers all be aware that the body type now so typical in football is, in itself, dangerous to health.  If it leads to sleep apnea, it places them at risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma, depression … and for 38,000 Americans each year it leads to their death.

We’ve seen it before.  On Christmas Night of 2004, NFL legend Reggie White passed away of a heart attack due to complications of sleep apnea.  Sadly, we will see it again.  We may have just seen it in the case of Gaines Adams.

To his family, we send our deepest condolences.  To his peers, we send our deepest concerns that they take the time to find out if they are at risk for sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea is dangerous … but very treatable.  Death from sleep apnea is unnecessary.  Knowledge is the key to preventing further tragedies.

Keep this in mind … if you snore at night and feel exhausted during the day, you might have sleep apnea.  If you neck circumference is 17″ or more (15″ for women), you may be at risk.  If your Body Mass Index is 30 or more, you are likely at increased risk.  Don’t wait … contact your personal healthcare provider and find out if you are at risk.

We have a free online sleep apnea risk assessment test available in two locations … on the home page of the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Foundation website, www.reggiewhitefoundation.org, and at www.sleepwellandlive.com Free, easy, comprehensive … it will only take a few moments for you to find out if you are at risk for sleep apnea.  Take the test.  The alternative is something not to be taken lightly.

Steve Gardner, Executive Director

Reggie White Sleep Disorders Research & Education Foundation

Have you been told that you might have sleep apnea and are wondering whether or not it’s worth the time and expense to find out?  Here are some important reasons why you should:

  1. Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause death.  38,000 Americans die every year of complications due to sleep apnea.
  2. Sleep apnea can cause or exacerbate cardiovascular disease.
  3. Sleep apnea can cause or exacerbate diabetes.
  4. Sleep apnea can cause or exacerbate high blood pressure.
  5. Sleep apnea can cause stroke.
  6. Sleep apnea can cause or exacerbate asthma.
  7. Sleep apnea can cause or exacerbate depression.
  8. Sleep apnea’s loud snoring and choking/gasping for air at night can damage and even ruin relationships.
  9. Sleep apnea can make you so exhausted that you can’t perform at work.
  10. Sleep apnea can cause extremely dangerous drowsy driving.
  11. And if that’s not enough, sleep apnea can cause or exacerbate erectile dysfunction.

Add to all of that the fact that sleep apnea sufferers experience frequent morning headaches and frequently nocturnal urination, and you’ve got a whole host of reasons to consider sleep apnea as something you don’t want to let go untreated.

And here’s another reason:  most cases of sleep apnea can be treated rather easily and effectively!

You’re rushing about wildly, trying to get the shopping done, get to the relatives’ house, trying to jam extra hours into the day, maybe even partying late on week nights.

‘Tis the season … for dangerous drowsy driving.

The roads filling up with college students returning home (often after all-nighters studying for finals), families on the road to visit relatives and friends.  Early morning shopping deals and days that begin and end in the dark all contribute to reduced sleep time and impaired wakefulness.  Add sleep apnea to that mix, and there is strong likelihood that you will encounter or become one of the  drowsy drivers on the road.

Driving simulation studies show that when drivers have been awake for 19 hours, they drive as poorly as when they have a blood alcohol level of 0.10, which is above the legal limit in most states.  If you pull an “all nighter” and then drive, it’s equivalent to driving drunk.   When sleep apnea is also present:  people with untreated mild to moderate sleep apnea, alone, perform worse behind the wheel than people with blood alcohol level of 0.06.

The National Traffic Safety Administration says there are 100,000 crashes per year due to fatigue and sleepiness each year.  And 1,550 deaths.

On average, it takes as little as two seconds of dozing at the wheel to cause you to inadvertently change lanes, swerve into oncoming traffic, or run off the road.

Most drivers do not realize that they are too sleepy and over-estimate their vigilance.  The most common warning signs are:

  • Trouble focusing
  • Frequent yawning and rubbing of eyes
  • Daydreaming and wandering thoughts instead of concentrating fully on the road
  • Drifting in your lane
  • Not remembering the last couple of miles

What to do if you notice ANY of these warning signs:

  • Pull over … call the people you are driving to visit and take a nap in a motel
  • If there is another person in the car with you, switch drivers
  • Don’t be macho … recognize that your warning signs can be the precursor to an accident … often not only involving you and the people in your car, but pedestrians and people in other cards.

What to do if you suspect sleep apnea:   take our free online sleep apnea risk assessment test at www.sleepwellandlive.com .

Don’t hesitate to contact your local sleep center and get evaluated.   Lives may well hang in the balance.