Adult Sleep Disorders

WebMD Live Events Transcript

How are American adults sleeping? Meir Kryger, MD, co-chairman of the National Sleep Foundation's 2005 poll task force, joined us on March 31. 2005 to reveal and explain the results of the 2005 Sleep in America poll.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD Live, Dr. Kryger. Thank you for joining us today.

KRYGER:
Hello. How are you?

MODERATOR:
Sleep deprived!

KRYGER:
Is that because someone in your home kept you awake last night?

MODERATOR:
Yes it is. How common is this?

KRYGER:
This is the first time this has been looked at by the National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America Poll, and it turns out that about one-fourth of the population of married partners leave the bed or sleep separately because of the bed partner's sleep problem. There are two types of sleep problems that lead to this kind of response. First is the bed partner who has loud snoring or has sleep apnea and the other common type of bed partner is the one who fidgets and twitches and doesn't stop moving when they sleep.

MODERATOR:
So what should I do to get a good night's sleep?

KRYGER:
The most important thing in this situation is to make sure that your bed partner doesn't have something serious such as sleep apnea. The clues that your bed partner has sleep apnea are loud snoring and you observe that they stop breathing repetitively, especially if they're on their back. And during the daytime they may be very sleepy, falling asleep at the wrong time and the wrong place.

It is very important that if you suspect your bed partner has this problem that they see a doctor, so that an accurate diagnosis can be made and the right treatment started. A very important caution is that if someone has sleep apnea, they should not take sleeping pills or use alcohol because both of these can make the problem much worse.

MODERATOR:
Let's talk about sleep apnea.

KRYGER:
Sleep apnea is a condition in which people repetitively stop breathing when they sleep. The most common cause is being overweight, but in children it can be caused by big tonsils and adenoids and can also be caused in other age groups by an abnormally small jaw. If someone in your family, no matter what age, has the features of being sleepy, snoring, and stopping breathing, that's something that should be looked into.

Now, to get back to your question about sleeping with a person with a sleep problem, we mentioned a minute or so ago that it interferes with your sleep . It turns out that such a bed partner of such a person loses almost an hour of sleep, actually 49 minutes, each night. That is about 300 hours per year. Many bed partners of patients have told me how much better they feel when their bed partner's sleep problem has been treated. So a sleep disorder can be contagious. If the person sleeping next to you has a sleep disorder and it is interfering with your sleep, the solution is not for you to take a sleeping pill, but to make sure that your bed partner receives the right medical care.

"If the person sleeping next to you has a sleep disorder and it is interfering with your sleep, the solution is not for you to take a sleeping pill, but to make sure that your bed partner receives the right medical care."



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