Saying good night to sleep disorders

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Nancy Collop, MD:
Saying good night to sleep disorders

"A Brief History of Sleep Medicine"
View video in larger size on YouTube.

Here’s one of the biggest challenges of being a sleep specialist: explaining to people that the problems they’re having while they’re asleep may be causing some of the problems they’re having when they’re awake.  

This thanks to patients having no awareness of what they’re doing while they’re sleeping, says pulmonologist Nancy Collop, MD, director of the Emory Sleep Center.  

“A patient will come in to see a sleep specialist because of a sleep complaint or because of something their physician thinks might be related to a sleep disorder, says Collop. “So, a lot of time patients are unaware that a complaint they have during daytime may be related to a problem during sleep.”  

Snoring, sleep apnea, sleep walking, and restless legs syndrome are just a few nocturnal events that can lead to not only daytime fatigue but can also lead to an erosion of overall health and well being.  

Yet, insomnia is likely the most common sleep disorder, says Collop. “Most people will experience a bout of insomnia during their lifetime,” she says. “Even over the course of a year, probably a third of people will have a bout of insomnia, but only when it becomes more chronic do people actually seek medical attention for it.”  

But some people don’t need as much sleep as they think, says Collop, yet, they worry about it. Most people need between seven and eight hours, she says. However, some people need less sleep and some people need more.  

“What I tell people is you’re getting enough sleep if you can function during the day and not feel tired or sleepy,” says Collop. Some clues that you’re getting enough sleep are if you don’t need an alarm clock to wake up, if you don’t sleep longer on the weekends, and if you don’t use extra caffeine to help you stay awake.”

To hear Collop’s own words about how sleep disorders tie into overall health, use the player at the top of this page or subscribe to the podcast.