Sleep Problems - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Tuesday, Nov 23, 2004

Sleep Problems

Having trouble getting a good night's sleep? If so, you've got lots of company. As many as 40% of Americans have trouble with insomnia and other sleep disorders. There are some things you can do to help.  But in some cases, you may need to check in with a sleep specialist--a doctor trained in sleep disorders.

It never occurred to Gerry Gelley that he had a sleep problem. Sure...he'd nap during the day. But he figured it was normal. Until one day about 6 years ago.

Gerry Gelley\Retired Airline Pilot: "My wife said: 'you stop breathing at night time and I think you have sleep apnea' and I said: 'No, I sleep fine during the night.'

But his wife's persistence eventually brought him here to the Sleep Center at Jupiter Medical Center where he learned his wife was right. Sleep apnea is caused when the airway to the lungs is obstructed, causing breathing to shut down temporarily.

Dr. Agustin Castellanos\Sleep Specialist: "The oxygen in the body drops and sends a signal to the brain to wake up and breathe and that will happen hundreds of times every night."

Sleep apnea, though, is only one aspect of insomnia. Dr. Castellanos defines insomnia as having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or having fragmented sleep.

Dr. Agustin Castellanos\Sleep Specialist: "The causes range from everything from bad habits, to stress, to actual medical conditions and medication. Psychiatric conditions actually come out a lot with insomnia."

Let's take a look at habits that promote a good night's sleep:

  • First of all, maintain a regular schedule for getting to bed and waking. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine.. Such as soaking in a hot bath or reading a book.

    Dr. Agustin Castellanos\Sleep Specialist: "In general, it's not a good idea to do anything that stimulates the mind--that you're actively participating in--like going online or watching a program near bedtime."

  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress in a dark, quiet, and cool environment.

  • Finish eating at least 2 to 3 hours before your regular bedtime.

  • Exercise regularly, early in the day. Not before bedtime.

  • Avoid caffeine close to bedtime and that includes coffee, tea, and many sodas.

  • And stay away from alcohol close to bedtime.

    Dr. Agustin Castellanos\Sleep Specialist: " Alcohol, for instance, washes out of your system after a few hours, so you rebound and you're now sleeping lighter for the rest of the night."

If all this fails, you may have a sleep disorder and probably need to see a sleep specialist. Doctor Castellanos says he often prescribe sleeping medications to help a patient get into a sleep rhythm. But most of all he searches for a cause, and that can entail an evening at the sleep center, wired up to monitors that will test for brain waves, eye movement, snoring noises, heart rate, breathing, leg movement, and oxygen in a person's system.

Gerry had a sleep study which confirmed sleep apnea. He got a C-Pap machine. Now he sleeps with a mask, hooked up to a device that provides C-PAP: Continuous Positive Airway Pressure which keeps him from snoring and from having episodes of sleep apnea.

Gerry Gelley\Retired Airline Pilot: "It changed my life dramatically. I was no longer getting up in the morning tired. I was no longer getting up with a headache and I was no longer sleeping during the daytime."

Gerry has formed a Support Group for anyone with concerns or questions about sleep disorders. You can reach him at 627-3986 or you can call the Jupiter Medical Center Sleep Center directly at 744-4478.

Dr. Castellanos tells me many sleep disorders are covered by medical insurance.

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