Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona shares more about sleep apnea

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What is sleep medicine?

In a nutshell, sleep medicine is the field of medicine that is responsible for the evaluation and treatment of over 80 sleep disorders that include conditions such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia, sleep walking, excessive daytime fatigue and sleepiness, and circadian rhythm ("internal biological clock") disorders.

I am a part of a medical field of very few full-time sleep medicine physicians, but one that is desperately in need of more physicians.

There are many healthcare professionals attempting to treat various sleep disorders. However, it is very important to remember that sleep apnea, in particular, is a medical disorder with significant risks to your health, and if it is not treated properly, can cause complications such as a major stroke, heart attack, or fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

Given my background in Internal Medicine, the vast amount of evidence showing that the quantity and quality of sleep one obtains nightly effects most major medical conditions ranging from hypertension to  obesity is absolutely remarkable. All this evidence gives the much needed credence that sleep is actually an extremely important part of our lives.

Why am I so tired during the day even though I sleep 6-8 hours per night?

This is likely the most common complaint that I see in my clinic, but at the same time, a complaint that has the largest differential diagnosis amongst sleep disorders. First off, we in sleep medicine like to differentiate "tiredness" into if one feels "physically fatigued" versus "drowsy." The reason for this distinction is that "physical fatigue" may occur secondary to other medical conditions unrelated to sleep, but "drowsiness" is usually always due to an underlying sleep disorder.

If an individual averages good quality 7-8 hours of sleep per night then he or she should not experience daytime drowsiness. The symptom of drowsiness during the day is a sign that the brain did not receive enough "deep sleep." If you give your brain a situation to recover lost sleep, i.e., sitting quietly at your desk after lunch, reading a book, or watching TV, then it will start attempting to recover lost "deep sleep," thereby causing the feeling of drowsiness.  

There are various intrinsic sleep disorders (i.e. sleep apnea, insomnia, kicking your legs while you are asleep) that leads your brain to being woken excessively.

It is normal for your brain to wake up 15-20 times per hour (for a duration of 1-3 seconds on average) but if there is any reason for the brain to wake up more than 15-20 times an hour then it forces the brain to spend more time in lighter stages of sleep and less time in REM (dream) sleep.

Ultimately, if you feel drowsy and physically fatigued during the daytime, despite feeling that you are obtaining decent quality of sleep, I would highly suggest you seek a consultation with a sleep specialist as it is very likely that you suffer from an underlying sleep disorder.

Ruchir P. Patel, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Internal Medicine - Sleep Medicine
Medical Director, The Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona

The Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona
8330 E Hartford Drive, Suite 100, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

The Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona is a paid advertiser of Sonoran Living Live

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