Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sleep Problems are Common in Primary Care Patients

A study recently published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that over one-third of adults who visit a primary care practice have sleep problems.
As summarized by the American College of Physicians:

34% woke up at least three times a night
14% had symptoms of sleep apnea
28% had symptoms of restless legs syndrome at least weekly
55% felt sleepy at least once a week during daily activities
37% dozed off at least once a week during daily activities
33% snored loudly at least once a week

Not all of the complaints could be attributed to specific sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome. Pain was a common cause of sleep disturbance. However, it is often difficult to tell if pain alone is causing the sleep disturbance:

Chronic back pain, arthritis, and joint pain and stiffness were associated with all of the sleep complaints studied. This finding is consistent with clinical research indicating the connection between pain and sleep disturbance21; however, in these analyses, it is impossible to determine which preceded or caused the other.22 Our analyses also identified increased risk of OSAS in patients with musculoskeletal pain. The cause of this relationship is unclear, but it can be postulated that disability and medications (especially opioids) may contribute to sleep apnea. RLS symptoms were also significant in patients with pain, a finding that mirrors others in the literature.23 Thus, a plan that addresses the sleep complaints as well as the pain can optimize the treatment of pain and improve quality of life.

Sleep disturbance is common in primary care patients. In many cases, the primary care physican can evaluate and treat the problem. In difficult cases, or when sleep apnea is suspected, referral to a sleep specialist is indicated.


Wei-Shin said...

Indeed, I see at least one person a day who says they do not sleep well or is already on a sleeping pill. I'm a family physician in Stamford, CT. (http://www.highridgefamilypractice.com) I enjoy reading your website/blog. I often have trouble sleeping as I stay up thinking and worrying about patients and such. I've tried writing down To-Do lists and follow the Sleep Hygiene rules as best I can, given my on call schedule. Despite being a doctor who routinely prescribes sleeping pills, I do not feel that chronic use of pills is a good practice. Therefore, I explored various non-medicinal options for sleep.

Over the past year, I have developed a product called the SleepPhones System. It employs binaural beats for brainwave entrainment. This technology works better for some people than others, but on the whole, it's pretty harmless and may help most insomniacs. I know that it has definitely helped me. As you probably already know, binaural beats are a sound phenomenon discovered in 1839. Scientific American published a paper in 1973 about how it may entrain brainwaves (Auditory Beats in the Brain, Oster 1973). Using binaural beats for brainwave entrainment to induce sleep is not new. There are many products out there already.

I'd like to let you know how the SleepPhones System is different. We actually include SLEEP HEADPHONES in the kit. I designed and patented these headphones myself.

As far as I know, we make the FIRST and ONLY HEADPHONES DESIGNED FOR SLEEP. Most regular headphones are too bulky for a side sleeper. Earbuds should not be worn over and extended period of time due to risk of out ear infections and decubitus skin ulcers in cartilaginous tissue (very bad - especially hard to heal!). The headphones I designed are soft fleece headbands with thin high-quality speakers inside. The single cord exits from the Front of the headband, since few people actually sleep face down. I think that the design is very innovative, and the product quality is excellent.

We have been selling online for less than a month and have already received some very positive responses. I hope that you find this product interesting and would be honored if you would blog about the SleepPhones System. I would be happy to send you a sample SleepPhones System, currently retailing for $59. Our website is http://www.SleepPhones.com.

Thank you for your attention!

Wei-Shin Lai, MD, CEO
AcousticSheep, LLC

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