April Is Insomnia Awareness Month

DSC_0001Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint among Americans. Polls taken by the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health revealed that about 30-40% of adults experience periodic symptoms of insomnia, and about 10-15% of adults report experiencing chronic insomnia.

Polls taken by the National Sleep Foundation in 2005 found the following statistics relating to symptoms of insomnia:

  • 38% report waking in the morning without feeling restored or refreshed.
  • 32% have experienced wakefulness during the night.
  • 21% have had difficulty falling asleep and awoke too early in the morning.

What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is used to describe the inability for an individual to get the necessary amount of sleep to feel refreshed and well rested.  Insomnia may be an acute or persistent disorder that can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or both.

Types of Insomnia and Possible Causes

Insomnia may be diagnosed as a primary or secondary condition.  Secondary insomnia is the most common, presenting symptoms of sleeplessness as a side effect of certain medications or some other underlying problem. Secondary insomnia may be caused by a variety of factors including:

  • Excessive stress, anxiety, worry or other emotional disturbance
  • Anticipation of life events
  • Chronic pain, such as arthritis
  • Digestive problems
  • Other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Hormonal imbalances

Primary insomnia is much more rare and is not identifiably caused by any other medical, psychological, or environmental factor.  The International Classification of Sleep Disorders  identifies three types of primary insomnia:

  1. Psychophysiological insomnia – a learned or behavioral condition, often associated with worried thoughts about not being able to fall asleep.
  2. Idiopathic insomnia – lifelong sleeplessness linked to abnormal neurologic control.
  3. Paradoxical insomnia – also called “sleep state misperception,” is characterized by complaints of severe insomnia without any objective physical evidence of sleep disturbance.

Effects of Insomnia

Because sleep is an essential physical need, insomnia can very negatively impact one’s body and mind.  The effects of insomnia on physical health can include:

  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Impaired motor skills and reduced task performance
  • Increased risk of accidents
  • Increased chances of developing heart disease
  • Stunted height and growth
  • Weakened immune system

Insomnia also effects mood and mental clarity.  Inadequate sleep can cause irritability, fatigue, poor memory and reduced concentration.  Insomnia can also intensify symptoms of depression.

Treatment of Insomnia

Insomnia is often linked to behavioral or environmental factors; these recommendations can significantly improve insomnia symptoms.

  • Alter habits that can disrupt sleep including caffeine intake or exercising late in the day.
  • Evaluate your sleep schedule and try to synchronize your bedtime with your biological clock.
  • Learn to neutralize anxiety about sleeplessness with Cognitive Therapy
  • Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or guided imagery
  • Practice good sleep hygiene by creating an environment that promotes restfulness

If insomnia persists, consult your physician about other treatment options.  A sleep test may reveal an underlying condition that could be causing your symptoms.

For more information about insomnia or to schedule a sleep test, please contact us today.



March is Narcolepsy Awareness Month

Teen-boy-girl-asleep-school-shutterstock_91930403This month, Lion Sleep Labs is recognizing the importance of narcolepsy awareness.  Narcolepsy is believed to be an autoimmune neurological disorder that affects 200,000 Americans and 3 million people worldwide.  Despite its prevalence, it is a condition that too frequently goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Those who suffer from narcolepsy symptoms can tell you that the disease is a serious challenge that can cause undesirable cognitive and behavioral deviations.  Narcolepsy is most often characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), but other symptoms can include:

  • Hallucinations that are vivid and often frightening
  • Temporary sleep paralysis during waking or when falling asleep
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Disturbed nocturnal sleep
  • Hyperactivity, leg jerks and restlessness
  • Attention deficits
  • Decreased mental clarity
  • Memory problems

In some extreme cases, narcolepsy can cause sudden uncontrollable sleep attacks that can be very dangerous during daily activities such as eating, walking or driving.  Some types of narcolepsy also involve a symptom called cataplexy – a sudden loss of voluntary muscle control that is often triggered by intense emotions such as anger, laughter or surprise.  Cataplexy symptoms can range from slurred speech to total body collapse.

The exact cause of narcolepsy is still unknown, but it has been linked to low levels of hypocretin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate sleeping and waking cycles.  Although narcolepsy may run in some families, it is not typically recognized as a genetic condition.

Testing for Narcolepsy

Proper diagnosis of narcolepsy should involve a physical exam and an exhaustive evaluation of a patient’s medical history.  A spinal fluid sample may be used for a hypocretin test to check levels of the neurotransmitter in the fluid that surrounds the spine. There are also several in-depth analyses and essential sleep tests that should be conducted in our specialized facility to confirm a narcolepsy diagnosis.

A polysomnogram (PSG) test will measure a variety of signals during a patient’s sleep cycle using electrode technology.  During an overnight evaluation, a PSG test will monitor the electrical activity of the brain, muscle and eye movements, and breathing patterns.

A multiple sleep latency test will measure how long it takes a patient to fall asleep during daytime hours when asked to take several periodic naps.  People who have narcolepsy will fall asleep easily and quickly enter into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Treatments & Coping  with Narcolepsy

There is currently no known cure for narcolepsy, but symptoms can be managed with behavioral therapy, lifestyle modifications and medication.  Some practical methods of managing symptoms of narcolepsy include:

  • Taking several short (10-15 minutes) naps daily to cope with excessive sleepiness
  • Establishing and maintaining routine exercise, eating, and sleeping schedules
  • Avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol

Approximately 1 in every 2,000 people, including many children, are affected by narcolepsy.  Though there are many public misconceptions about the disease, it can involve very serious symptoms that can interfere with a happy and healthy lifestyle.

If you would like to learn more about narcolepsy or for more information on the specialized sleep tests that can help diagnose narcolepsy and other sleep-related conditions, contact Lion Sleep Labs today.

Adolescent Sleep Needs and Patterns

Funny KidsDid you know that adolescents typically require somewhere between 8 ½ to 9 ¼ hours of sleep each night?  Yet a recent study found that only 15% of teens actually get that amount of sleep on a regular basis.

During adolescent development, biological sleep patterns for both sleeping and waking naturally shift toward later in the day.  It is very common for a teen to have trouble falling asleep before 11:00 pm, but this makes it difficult to get enough sleep on school nights when they have to wake up early.  This lack of sleep is usually coupled with irregular sleep patterns—staying up late and sleeping in on weekends—which negatively affects an adolescent’s “biological clock” and diminishes their quality of sleep.

As a result of these bad sleeping habits, many adolescents suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.  Fortunately, these are treatable conditions that can be diagnosed through Pediatric Sleep Testing.

Inadequate sleep is also associated with other consequences including:

  • Weakened immune system and higher rate of illness
  • Weight gain
  • Limited cognitive abilities such as learning, listening, focusing and problem solving
  • Increased forgetfulness
  • Acne-prone skin and other dermatological problems
  • Moodiness or depression
  • Increased likelihood for accidents or injuries
  • Impaired physical abilities
  • Dangerous driving

Behavioral or mood-related problems associated with a lack of sleep are prominent among adolescents.  In a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 73% of teens who reported feeling unhappy, sad, or depressed also reported excessive sleepiness during the day and inadequate sleep at night.

Research shows that while a lack of sleep can negatively affect mood, a depressed mood can lead to anxiety and sleeplessness.  To stop this vicious cycle, it is imperative that parents take action to help their children get good sleep.

Supporting Healthy Sleep

There are several ways to help your adolescent get better sleep at night.

  • Create a bedroom that is optimally conducive to good sleep.  Keep the room cool, dark and quiet.  Blackout curtains or eyeshades at night can be helpful.
  • Avoid caffeine (like coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate) during the last part of the day.
  • Do not eat, drink, or exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid stimulation from technology (TV, computer, phone, etc.) for at least an hour before going to bed.  Quiet, calm activities like reading will help your child fall asleep faster.
  • Establish structured sleeping and waking times and stick to the schedule every day—even the weekends! Once the body adjusts to a natural pattern, it will become easier to fall asleep and easier to wake up every day.
  • Create a bedtime routine that gets repeated every night.  For example, dim all the lights in the house, then shower and read a book.  Doing the same things every night will train the body to recognize signals that it’s time to sleep.

Some adolescents may respond well to keeping a sleep diary to track their sleeping patterns.  If anxiety is a problem, a notepad next to the bed can help release thoughts.

Sleep is just as important for the body as eating, drinking and breathing.  If your adolescent is struggling with behavioral issues or other problems, inadequate sleep may be to blame.

Lion Sleep Labs offer Pediatric Sleep Testing to measure body functions during sleep to help pinpoint the reasons your child may not be sleeping well.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, please Contact Us today.

Mastering Your Sleep Hygiene – Start With A Good Mattress

what-is-inadequate-sleep-hygieneI had a conversation the other day about camping and the comfort of the great outdoors; tent, no tent or Winnebago. It was a random out of the blue question and I thought about it. It went from there in my head to all the places I had slept and got me to thinking about the fact that as an owner of a sleep company, I needed to do some self reflecting. The sort of thing you want to do if you want to really talk about a subject. How can you speak to a topic of bedding if you don’t sit back and say, “What do I really know about the subject?”

And after considerable deliberation and an overall review of my collective memory I decided it was quite a bit! I have had a stellar career of finding comfort (or not) in many beds because I travelled extensively for years through work, vacations and I just plain moved a lot! I can honestly say I have lost count. I know I’ve lived in excess of well over 10 different houses, several apartments, couple condos, two or three basement bedrooms, 5 dorm rooms, countless couches, concrete floors and hundreds of hotels. Some may not have been for very long but hey, I am a light sleeper! I took copious mental notes carefully stored in the event I needed to write a future article. Here is my chance.

I am such a light sleeper that I can hear a fly scratching his hind legs in the kitchen and that’s got to be some kind of record. But while I wait to hear back from The Guinness Book of World Records, I don’t relish it in the least bit because I need my rest. We all do and we seem to make such light of the fact and brag about doing all niters for crazy reasons that impart a general lethargic lifestyle that is counter productive and doesn’t do well for our daily active performances. I am not talking stage acting, dancing or singing. I am talking about parenting, working, eating healthy and others – or more importantly will I live through today without the burning desire to blast a hole in my budget on Starbuck’s with a caffeine load meant for Raja the elephant.

When I started in the sleep business I kept hearing about “sleep hygiene”. I thought, hmmm, brush your teeth, wash your face,…you know, hygiene stuff! Fast forward to the first conversation with my coordinator Theresa and a whole new world of hygiene opened up before me. She quickly educated me on the simple but completely neglected topic of “Sleep Hygiene”. And as you step back and think about it, sleep hygiene makes perfect sense and I was breaking every rule and I needed an intervention. As I learned more and more I found that for the most part we all needed an intervention with our “sleep hygiene”. A quick little survey of friends and I found we were all “sleep criminals”. We routinely hold our circadian rhythm hostage to poor mattresses, unfit pillows, terrible temperature variations, nighttime eating and cable TV. Not good says the sleep doctor, and that would be a universal across the board response from the entire lot of those boys of sleep!

There is no shortage of great products like the new technically superior mattresses in contrast to the stuffed sausages of my youth that were set upon an array of a bent metal canopy. My sleep company has used several different mattresses and it’s a matter of taste and needs when working with patients. We are solely collecting data and while that is a short limit time, say one or two nights, we do make it comfortable during the testing procedures.

Typically people pay so little attention to the one area where we all spend the bulk of our life in one spot, sleeping. It’s time to do a little shopping and clean your self up and wonder have I created the best spot for me to lay my weary head and get my “Circadian Rhythm” back! You’ve seen all the commercials and their virtues but it’s simply a matter of trying them out and working on a budget. So while they may look like a good pair of jeans,…you need to try them on! Mattresses are no different and I highly suggest you go bounce around on as many as possible to find the one best for you, just make sure you have your clothes on,…jail cells have horrible mattresses so I have been told.



Sleeping With Fireflies

urlAs impossible as this seems I grew up without air conditioning. As a matter of fact we didn’t even have a fan. The first house I grew up in to the age of five was a one bedroom house with a sort of make shift room where five of the nine of us slept. Not what you would call luxury accommodations but given my age I don’t remember much except when someone was sick, the ripple affect was undeniable.

Right before I turned six we moved into a home my father built. It was certainly more spacious considering it was a 3-bedroom ranch. The new house had huge acreage to play all sorts of games like hide-n-seek and tag and the traditional sports of baseball, basketball and football. With a total of nine family members it relegated four of us to the basement, which had one room to squeeze us in to. The upper level had an attic fan, which pulled air in and would drop the temperature of the house considerably during the hot Midwestern summers. The basement was comfortable because for the most part during the summer months it was nice and cool. On the flipside, the winters were brutal so the saving grace was a fireplace, which was located at the opposite end of the house. Not close enough to keep the frost off the single pane windows in the basement bedroom but efficient enough to stop frostbite.

We were pretty poor I guess by current standards. The beds were bunk beds and metal to boot. I don’t know but I am assuming they were military style and possibly issued. The mattress was a stuffed flat striped cloth covering a pile of dense cotton fibers pad. Most of the time we didn’t even have sheets. Sleeping head to toe feet cleaning was a priority. But given how long ago and the fact we played from sun up to sun down I can imagine I could have slept on a concrete floor and remembering doing as much a couple of times in the makeshift living room placed centrally near the fireplace.

Times have changed and I now have the luxury of a king size bed, central air and an overhead fan. But unlike being five or thereabouts I have an acute awareness I am not sleeping well or the fan isn’t on or the thermostat is set too high. Kids have heightened my spider senses to coughing, throwing up, sneaking in the kitchen, sneaking out of the house, sneaking in the house or sneaking to play video games long after the bell has sounded for lights out furthering my one eye open sleeping style!

Many things affect the perfect environment for sleeping. Way back when I was little comic books were popular and a handy flashlight would suffice to keep me well supplied to read into the night once the sentry (Mom or Dad) went off duty and retired to their quarters. There were four of us so plenty of minds to create interesting games and pillow fights. And during firefly season we would capture a bunch of them in a jar and let them go and fly around the room. I still don’t know if my parents ever knew that.

Kids today have a lot more “distractions”. The list is long and the need or more appropriately the want tugs at the sandman to stave off sleep for well beyond reasonable hours. Internet, cell phones, MP3 players, video games, and bedroom televisions are a constant battle. Looking further we analyze the meals and types of food we eat and just as important when we eat. High sugar products with lots of caffeine weren’t the norm. I grew up going to bed early. With only 4 TV stations, other than reading or playing board games what else do you do requiring you to stay up so late? And dang I was tired we played so much.

I’d be less than honest if I told you that I didn’t have a TV in my bedroom, and yes I have my IPhone next to me.  I am a product of my environment but hey this isn’t about me, this is about you! Let’s display some basic ground rules for the best possible sleeping environment.

A good mattress is vital. Most people cringe because they can be expensive but remember you spend one third of your life laying on it, it’s money well spent. The best temperature varies from individual to individual but the cooler environment is typically best. If you get too cold, add a blanket. Now you’ve created a nice cool spot to lay down and sleep. Is that your phone buzzing? Turn it off. You are supposed to be sleeping and unless you are on call or are required for immediate services like say, a surgeon it will wait. Statistically speaking 99% of all phone, computer and internet uses in the bedroom are not necessary and purely for entertainment and robbing you of your health!

Let’s refresh here, good mattress, cool room, no food, no electronics and last but not least turn off the TV. Lots of distractions, which don’t allow your mind to relax and calm down from the day’s worked are carried into the bedroom. Use a fan or purchase one of the many different sound machines, which now mimic rain or waves crashing on the beach. Once you are set sleep is more likely and the outside world is where it belongs, outside your bedroom. Just don’t forget the alarm, you certainly are going to sleep better.

Getting The Kids Back On A Sleep Schedule After Summer

o-STUDENTS-SLEEP-facebookMy kids are back in school, yes freedom at last. I do not have to worry about the classic line. “Dad, I’m bored.”  Let’s get to bed early because the bus comes pretty early and that means they have to get up earlier. After a summer of late nights watching movies, playing video games and hanging with friends, the honeymoon is over kids! Time for back to school and concentrating on grades and after school activities.

Sounded good but then a whole other set of problems arose that I tend to put in the back of my mind. School projects, football practice and games, art club and the dreaded “My boyfriend and I want to go to the movies” tugging at the remaining hours of the day.

Okay, “But it’s Wednesday night, this is a school night”, and so the fight goes on.

The homework comes rushing in and the extracurricular activities delay the inevitable task of homework and studying, dinner and any sensible conversation from either party. My worries grow exponentially. I want a well-rounded child but managing the whole sleep thing just got way to complicated.

The reality is pretty straightforward –  no one wants my child to sleep except me. Neither my daughter nor my son wants to go to sleep. Video games are very exciting and stimulating and the weaning process is flat out exhausting (curses to you Xbox!). There are to many ways to “talk” to your friends. Twitter, Facebook, Skype, texting and of course the “Dad will never know” phone conversation at 1 AM. The coaches need to put in that extra practice time because the team needs a little extra after last week’s loss. The monumental task of integrating homework between teachers is never going to happen so on any one given day it becomes paramount to a college “all-nighter” to get the homework done.

Sluggish and struggling from the transition of a summer of long days and endless nights, we all struggle with the issue of sleep for our children. As parents we really don’t change much in the way of sleep patterns. And for those of us that struggle or have those situational changes we resort to a good cup of java! Well, so do our kids. I don’t mean it is necessarily coffee but they reach for some sort of sleep deprived stimulant. Monster, AMP, Full Throttle, 5 Hour Energy and all types of teas help the lethargy that is school induced “zombie” children.

Years ago I was told that if you gave 4o hours of effort into school work you’d be a straight “A” student. If you added in classroom work and homework with study time for a combined 40 hours you’d be able to get really good grades. I believed it and I still do. I preach it. So how do I get the buy in from my kids? Rules and discipline are the only way unless you have the rare child that is driven to excel. We fight an uphill battle with technology and the “Jones Complex” of everyone else is doing it. I don’t care Xbox –  you aren’t pulling my child from me. And last time I looked, 5 Hour Energy drink isn’t sponsoring my car let alone my child.

Where do we start?

  • It’s 9 PM, technology, you get your fanny straight to the kitchen counter and don’t get off that counter until I tell you it’s okay like when my kids leave to get on the bus.
  • Mr. Xbox it’s weekends only for you unless you start to erode my child’s brain and then it’s summer, vacations or not at all.
  • Monster (perfectly named) you can forget it. You and your buddies have no place in my house or the bubble that is my parental force field enveloping my child throughout the day. Ever hear of glycemic control? Of course not! Monsters don’t have rules.
  • Coach I appreciate your desire to make my child an NFL superstar but I really need him to make the grades. Based on my iPhone calculator I have figured that the odds of being in the NFL are approximately .009976%. I see a lottery ticket in my future.

Diet, exercise and sleep are the backbone of quality health. Kids are rarely disciplined enough to comply. As we look around the influences today they are staggering! It’s difficult to monitor and control everything our children are involved in or influenced by. It’s pretty exciting to fight an Alien at 11:30 at night sipping on a Rockstar eating Reece’s pieces with another kid from Japan on the other side of the planet. Thing is, I get to pull the plug!

Pediatric Sleep Testing Now Available

Pediatric Sleep Testing O'Fallon, ILLion Sleep Laboratories is happy to announce the availability of pediatric sleep testing in our O’Fallon, IL location. Please contact us if your child has the need for a sleep test.

Poor Quality of Sleep has a Cinder in the Attic

candleThere is a dirty little word in the healthcare industry called STAT:

stat 2 |stat|
(in a medical direction or prescription) immediately.

As in I need it right now! You’ve probably heard it on television many times where the ER doctor yells out “I need 2 units of Type B STAT!” These are life saving measures. So why is it a “dirty little word”? Because it means get your feet moving and we need it now! It’s a call to action where the normal is turned upside down and it is disruptive. Staffing has to get out of their comfort zone and do what is not “typical”.

We have all been through it in our own lives; like remember when the bathroom toilet overflowed because one of your kids wanted to see if Sponge Bob actually really did live underwater and launched him in and flushed. Water going everywhere we start to panic and if we are quick enough we turn the supply valve to the off position. Heart rate goes up and resolution brings us back to normal, a little less none for the wear. So we all know STAT, we have all lived it.

Why do I bring up STAT? What does STAT have to do with sleep testing or any other type of testing? STAT is an extreme, could mean or life or death within minutes. Are most test STAT, not at all. Sleep would not be a STAT test but because it isn’t STAT does not diminish the need or the level of attention your provider should give to you in order for you to get your test or procedure done. You are GOING to have that sleep test! Why?

Impaired sleep is tied to a myriad of health issues. As we learn more and more about sleep, it is now recognized as the third part of the foundation of a quality life:

  1. Diet
  2. Exercise
  3. Sleep

The focus is to get you scheduled for your test, such as a sleep test, as quickly as possible. Once you’ve had your test then it’s a matter of getting results as quickly as possible so you can be treated. Because it’s not an immediate life saving procedure doesn’t reduce the risk for potential issues such as hypertension, diabetes, Congestive Heart Failure or heart attack. I equate it to the smoldering cinder in the attic. If you don’t know it’s there, there is a real possibility that if ignored the house can burn down. You just don’t know it.

Quality of sleep is imperative to better health. Working with the physician and patients to find a quality center and timely results is important in your determination of where to get your sleep testing. We are committed to getting your doctor’s orders fulfilled and you your test results faster than any other company. We like STAT because we know after years of testing patient’s there are lots of “cinders in the attic!”.

We don’t claim to be firemen or firewomen but we know a lot about sleep. Our company doesn’t want you end up on the STAT side because you chose to ignore your “cinder in the attic”. Sleep well my friends or sleep better by getting the knowledge to know if that coal is glowing in your attic.

Medical Bargain Shopping

indexbackDoctor’s orders! We’ve all heard it before and for the most part it makes perfect sense. In order for most doctors to treat you effectively they need to know that what you’ve been ordered to do is followed. Be it a prescription or a special procedure, a sleep test or an MRI, they want to be able to treat you, which is why they ordered it in the first place. But each doctor has his or her own take on what medications, procedure (x-ray) or what diet to take or use and in some cases where and by whom these orders are filled. Those decisions can affect your wallet.

Where and when and by who you get your medical services are becoming more of an issue as more doctors become pressured through external forces such as the insurance companies or the particular hospital or group that own or control their practice. It’s pretty simple, the medical dollar is being ripped apart by different parties to get their fair or perceived fair share of the medical dollar YOU as the consumer spend. Pharmacy, imaging, surgery, laboratory all want you to spend your money with them. Truth is in most cases you get to decide!

Are you looking for a bargain? Yes and no. If you are going to have an MRI done, you certainly want the right test done. You want the best possible equipment to be used during the procedure. The staff should be trained and certified to run the test and report the results. Am I getting a bargain comes down to do I get the same wherever I decide to have the test done and what do I need to consider when I am making the decision of where I will spend my medical dollar.

Ask the right questions:

  • Is this the most cost effective way to get what I need?
  • Are you contracted with my insurance?
  • What am I expected to pay out of pocket?

As the cost of healthcare has risen, alternative options for things like Imaging and Sleep Testing have become available for most patients. As long as the company providing the service such as a sleep test is contracted with your insurance, the chances are that you will be saving money and usually they are more flexible with scheduling and payment plans.

The end result is that you want your test done appropriately by a reputable company but you want to do it the most economical way. With more cost effective options available for many medical procedures and services, we can now save with a more informed decision. Besides, you want to spend your hard earned money on something cool, like a convertible!

Welcome to Lion Sleep Laboratories Blog!

6338284584_1b999809b5_bmainHello, my name is Keith Martin, President of Lion Sleep Laboratories. Welcome to our new blog! We will post articles and information of interest to those wishing to be more informed of the medical industry, especially when it comes to sleep disorders and the technology used to test and diagnose it. Please keep coming back periodically to stay in touch. And if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!