Welcome to our E-Health Connect Web Chat.
Today's topic is sleep issues.
To ask a question, simply enter your name and email address, click join, then ask your question in the message box. Please note your email address will not be used for any other purpose than to contact you if needed about the chat.
Today's chat is with Dr. Kimberly Mebust. She is a sleep medicine specialist with Neurology & Neurosurgery Associates. She attended Medical School and completed her Internship at the University of Connecticut and did her residency at Duke University Medical Center
I know that you are supposed to get the same amount of sleep each night, but if you can't, is it possible to "catch up" on sleep by sleeping longer for one or several nights?
It is a temporary fix so you might feel a little better for a short time. It is preferred to continue with a regular schedule. It can throw off your body clock if you use that method.
What causes snoring at night?
Snoring is cause by vibration of excessive tissue in the airway affecting the nose and throat.
My son is 8. He gets up around 7am each morning, so we try to put him to bed around 8 each night, so he gets 10 hours of sleep. A friend recently said they thought that was too much sleep for him and he should stay up later. How much sleep should be be getting?
9-11 hours of sleep is appropriate for a child that age.
That's a good system you have with your child.
Are sleeping troubles more prominent in men than in women?
There is different kinds of sleep problems that affect men and women. Women are more likely to have insomnia while men are more likely to have sleep apnea.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is cessation of airflow when a person is breathing at night. Often when someone has loss of muscle tone and a collapse of tissue that can cause obstruction.
My wife constantly is waking me up at night and asking me to roll over because of my snoring. I'd like to try an over the counter fix before going to the doctor. Are those nose strips I've seen on TV really helpful?
If you have a lot of nasal congestion, sometimes that can help open the nasal passages. So, it can help a little along with a nasal congestion medication. However, it could also be caused by another reason. Snoring and sleep apnea my be caused by other issues. I would suggest a sleep evaluation to determine any other potential issues.
Are there any drugs that can help with snoring?
A prescription nasal inhaler to reduce the congested nasal tissue. Also antihistamines may help.
The over the counter snore sprays can cause additional inflammation in the lungs when breathed in. So be cautious of those products
What does a sleep evaluation involve?
A sleep evaluation involves seeing a sleep specialist to talk about their sleep complaints, habits and medical history. Then determine if there is an underlying sleep disorder that might need further evaluation and/or treatment.
My PCP has recommended a sleep study to me. What's involved in the study?
A person goes into a laboratory around 7pm and a technician will place wires on a patient's head to monitor things like brain wave activity, breathing patterns, heart rate, oxygen levels and body movements. We have people go to bed around their normal time. There is a TV in the room if people like to watch TV before bed. They sleep through the night and then go home. A technician is there to help the patient if they need anything during the night.
I'm afraid I won't be able to sleep in a strange environment. Do you give patients anything to relax them before the study?
You would need to talk to your doctor about that. We are not able to prescribe a medication at the sleep lab, but your doctor can provide something to help. You can also use an over the counter sleep aid to help you sleep. Sometimes we discourage the use of prescription medication because it can affect the results of the study.
MultiCare also provides sleep studies for children and infants. You can learn more about these services by tuning into E-Health Connect Chat next month with Dr. Makari.
I hear about sleep cycles - how do I know I'm sleeping through each cycle? Does this matter?
It does matter. If there is something that is disturbing someone's sleep and they can't progress through a cycle appropriately then that can lead to daytime fatigue, memory loss, behavioral problems and mood changes as well as other problems.
My wife is pregnant and not sleeping well. She used to take a sleep medication, but doesn't during pregnacny. Any recomendations?
Pregnancy and sleep is very difficult. Sometimes sleeping in an upright position, perhaps in a recliner can help. Create a comfortable sleep environment that includes a cool, dark place in the home.
I work shift work, so my daily routine and bedtime is not always the same. How can I keep my sleep patterns from getting too off track?
When someone is working shifts, it is better to have a consistent shift time. For example, only days and/or only nights. If you are on a set pattern, stay on that sleep pattern. If you work nights, and get up at 11pm for work, keep that schedule on your days off.
If you happen to work nights, it is important to avoid light exposure at the end of your shift. The light provides a cue to the brain to "activate" and prevent you from falling asleep. Light boxes at the beginning of a night shift can help make you more alert. The FDA has approved two medicines to help shift workers be more alert.
What is restless leg syndrome and how does it affect sleep?
RLS is an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, sometimes arms, because there is an uncomfortable feeling that occurs. It typically occurs at night or right before sleep and that sensation and prevent people from going to sleep. Some people with RLS can also experience periodic limb movements during sleep that can disturb your sleep cycle and can make you tired.
RLS is hereditary and can be associated with other medical conditions, such as anemia, kidney dysfunction and nerve damage.
My son sleepwalks. On nights that he sleepwalks, he is exhausted the next day. What can I do?
A sleep evaluation would be good for him. There may be something is triggering his sleep walking. If this is worrisome, he should be evaluated.
What causes someone to grind their teeth during sleep?
It is not known specifically why people grind their teeth. It has been associated with stress or other movement disorders in sleep.
Does drinking wine before bed help you sleep?
If it is once in a while, alcohol can help you sleep. If it is every night, it can actually prevent you from getting a good night's sleep.
Do you recommend naps in the daytime? How long should a nap be?
Naps on occasion are ok. You shouldn't sleep for more than an hour. If you sleep more than that, it can prevent you from sleeping well at night. Ideally, a nap should be around 20-30 minutes. If you are napping every day, this may be a sign of a sleep disorder.
Is it true that by lacking on your sleep, you could experience weight gain?
Yes. There are hormones in the body that affect your eating pattern that can get thrown off when you don't get enough sleep.
I can fall asleep fine, but often have trouble staying asleep, why is this?
Something might be disturbing your sleep. I would suggest a sleep evaluation.
I travel a lot for work, and the time zone changes affect my rest. How can I minimize the impact?
When you get to your final destination, try to stay on their time zone. So avoid napping when you are tired. Just stay on that time zone's pattern for sleep. There are also some medications that can help you as well.
Are trouble sleeping and insomnia the same thing?
The definition of insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep and/or difficulty staying asleep that causes daytime fatigue. Any number of problems can cause that.
I'm redecorating my bedroom. Suggestions to create the best sleep environment?
My boyfriend wants to put a TV in the bedroom. I heard somewhere that watching TV right before you sleep is bad for you. Is this true?
If you have sensitivity to light, window treatments that can block the light can create a comfortable sleeping environment.
That is true. It causes over stimulation. Also the light exposure can affect sleep. Some people won't adhere to their sleep schedule if there is a TV in the room.
How bad should insomnia be before I go see a doctor?
If it is impacting your sense of well being and ability to do tasks in the daytime, it is time to see the doctor.
Can the new drug Zolpimist really help you fall asleep and stay asleep?
I am not familiar with that drug. So I am not comfortable commenting on it. I would suggest you talk to your doctor.
Are there any natural remedies - like melatonin - that you recommend?
Melatonin can be a very good sleep promoting agent. Doses of 1-3 milligrams can be helpful.
My girlfriend gives me a hard time about falling asleep at night on the couch in front of the TV/Xbox. But sleep is sleep, right?
That is not the best sleep environment.
I feel like I get enough sleep (7-8 hours a night), but I am almost always still tired in the morning. Why could this be? (I am 32 and not pregnant)
That could a be sign of a sleep disorder. Talk to your doctor.
How often should one have to use the restroom at night?
Most people will awaken 1-2 times a night and may or may not use the restroom and fall back asleep in about 5 minutes. That is normal.
Does caffeine cause insomnia?
Yes. Caffeine is a stimulant and can disrupt the ability to fall asleep. People should stop drinking caffeine after 12 noon, if they have trouble falling asleep at night.
That wraps up our chat for today. Thanks for participating.