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Reality of Sleep Disorders

The Fountain of Youth World Summit with Dr. Michael Breus, the author of Good Night and Web MDs sleep expert.

Kevin: I think it's going to be an awesome talk. And as many people out there know already, I like to get right into it. So let's start talking about sleep. I know you have some facts and you have some numbers. Let's start talking about them.

Dr. Breus: Oh yeah. Let's get right into it. One of the things that's really pretty fascinating, Kevin, is just how many people are reporting any symptom of a sleep problem. If you look back at the National Sleep Foundation data from 2000, you'll see that roughly sixty-two percent of the overall population was reporting a problem. But now in 2005, this is still data that's two years old, we're seeing that almost seventy-five percent of people are reporting a type of a sleep problem.

Kevin: Wow! So it's a thirteen percent increase.

Dr. Breus: Yeah. It's truly amazing. Right now, we're thinking that more than seventy million Americans are suffering from known sleep disorders. Almost fifty percent of people snore. The thing to remember here is snoring is not necessarily a sleep disorder, but it can be a sign or symptom of a sleep disorder called sleep Apnea.

Kevin: Um Hmm

Dr. Breus: Unfortunately, the medical community classify snoring as more of a social nuisance in terms of keeping other people awake. Here's another fascinating statistic is individuals who sleep with somebody who snores lose on average about one hour of sleep per night.

Kevin: Wow! That's incredible! [Laughs]

Dr. Breus: So it might not even be your sleep problem that's keeping you from getting a good night's rest. It could be your bed partner's.

Kevin: Wow.

Dr. Breus: Sleep deprivation affects things like creativity, productivity, memory, relationships and even sexual activity. So there almost isn't an area that sleep doesn't affect. Interestingly enough, it affects every single organ system available. And here's the thing that was kind of baffling to me when I first started getting into this field - I don't know if you know this, but there are eighty-eight different sleep disorders.

Kevin: No kidding!

Dr. Breus: Yeah. You wouldn't think that there would be so many. I mean you'd figure "Well, you know, I close my eyes, I go to sleep, how many things could go wrong?" Well, the truth of the matter is, there are literally eighty-eight different types of sleep disorders. Now some of them can be long-term, they have specific categories. And there are really four or five main sleep disorders that I [haven't seen to] to deal with them. I practice and also talk about them in my book. And those who fall into the category of insomnia, which could be "having a problem falling asleep" or "having a problem staying asleep" or either "waking too early". there's also a new category of insomnia that we should talk about just for a brief moment, which is called, it's not really called insufficient sleep, it's basically called "poor quality sleep"?

Kevin: Okay.

Dr. Breus: And so it's not about the number of minutes that you get but the quality of those minutes. So what's interesting here is that some people might sleep eight hours but they wake up, and they feel horrible.

Kevin: Right.

Dr. Breus: That's a whole new phenomena that we're just starting to learn more about and trying to investigate more about.

Kevin: Anything about the factors? What are some of the factors about?

Dr. Breus: Well, you know what? That's a good question as there could be multiple factors. It could be anything from stress, to caffeine, to other medical problems, to even medications or supplements that you could be taking that could be affecting your sleep.

Kevin: Mm Hmm.

Dr. Breus: So that's a lot of different things that could affect your sleep. The thing that people don't realize is - I'm kind of like, sort of an internal medicine doctor but, for the night time, if you will, simply because every single area, every single thing you do, can have a potential affect on your sleep. Now that doesn't mean that I want everybody to lock themselves in the room,

Kevin: [laughs]

Dr. Breus: You know, never drink coffee again,

Kevin: [laughs]

Dr. Breus: [Have a glass of wine] or anything like that, because that's just not me, number one. Number two is that's just not realistic. What I'm hoping to do today with this talk is to let people know, first of all, that this is a serious situation. Second, that there are a lot of different things that we'll be able to do. Very quickly, here even today, even notes that you'd be able to take today during this teleconference, that will allow you to sleep better tonight. And they're very realistic, and they're not, [say], going to change your life forever.

Kevin: Well, that's fantastic. I must get into that. [Laughs]

Dr. Breus: Absolutely. Some people like to know what are some of these big problems that everybody's talking about. So, first of all, about fifty-three percent of people say that they often wake up not feeling refreshed. Thirty-six percent of people say they have trouble falling back to sleep. And then just thirty-one percent of people say they just can't fall asleep in general, [just] that sleep on insomnia, what we call it. Again, kind of interesting but more often than not, people are saying it's not the falling asleep, even though a third of people have a problem with that, it's the staying asleep,

Kevin: Okay.

Dr. Breus: That seems to really get to them.

Kevin: Okay.

Dr. Breus: Now, the other thing that's kind of fascinating is looking at who has these problems. Believe it or not, women have a tendency to report sleep problems more than men do. Now, I think there're a couple of different reasons for that. One of the different reasons I feel is that women, first of all, they have a reasonably better in touch sense with their body. They know and understand their body. They listen to their bodies, but they also have a greater likelihood to talk about these issues.

Kevin: Sure.

Dr. Breus: Not necessarily just with their friends, but also with their physicians, their therapists, whoever happens to be speaking with them. And so, interestingly enough, eighty-three percent of the people who are talking about these are women.

Kevin: Guys are just like "I'm okay.". [Laughs]

Dr. Breus: Right, it's kind of like this bravado "Hey, I don't have any problems. All I need is five hours of sleep. Rrrr".

Kevin: [Laughs]

Dr. Breus: You know. And the truth of the matter is, that's just not the case. You know, I was with executives from Fortune 100 to Fortune 500 companies all over the world. And, you know, men, women, doesn't really matter. What I find is men come in and they say "You know, I'm tough, blah blah blah. But when you get them into room and you talk to them, they're in trouble. They're having a really tough time because they're not eating right, they're not exercising while they're on the road, and they're certainly not sleeping right. And that's affecting their performance not only at work, but at home.

Kevin: Right.

Dr. Breus: And that's a big deal. And we're also seeing, interestingly enough, there's sort of a bimodal distribution where we're seeing a lot of people between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four having sleep problems. But then also in my practice, I'm seeing people who are in their forty-five and up range having sleep problems as well. So it really seems to be the two distributions which probably speak to the fact there're two different types of sleep problems that are probably available in those groups.

Kevin: What do you speculate those to be?

Dr. Breus: I think the speculations would probably fall that the younger group - we're going to see more people with insomnia type problems?

Kevin: Okay.

Dr. Breus: And what I call disordered sleep.

Kevin: Okay.

Dr. Breus: See, there's a big difference between a sleep disorder which is a form of diagnosis like insomnia or [apnea] or [narcolepsy] and what I call disordered sleep, which is just wake up and "I don't feel so hot.".

Kevin: Right.

Dr. Breus: I think those insomnia and the disordered sleep fall in the eighteen to thirty-four range. When you start to get above forty-five, I think that's where we start to see a greater preponderance of sleep [apnea],

Kevin: Mm Hmm.

Dr. Breus: Most of us seem to go throughout any particular age range but restless life syndrome pops up huge in the older population.

Kevin: Okay. Is sleep apnea due to overweight, obesity?

Dr. Breus: Well, here's the interesting thing - is there're multiple factors for sleep apnea. Let's just go into, real quickly, what is sleep apnea.

Kevin: Mm Hmm.

Dr. Breus: Sleep apnea is where you stop breathing in your sleep. Okay. Generally speaking I like my patients to breathe,

Kevin: [Laughs]

Dr. Breus: Okay, and so it's good when they keep breathing all night long. Now the truth of the matter is this - you won't stop breathing in your sleep and not start back, okay. I had a funny time. I was sitting with a patient. I'm explaining her results, studying with her. And I sat down with her and I said "You know, Mrs XYZ, I want to let you know that you stopped breathing in your sleep over two hundred times last night.".

Kevin: Wow!

Dr. Breus: You know what she said to me? "Did I start back up?"

Kevin: [Laughs]

Dr. Breus: Now that's pretty classic. But that's the level of education that we have to get to here in teaching people what's going on. So the answer is - yes, she did start back up. And would you believe me if I told you that her sleep apnea was only moderate, and she stopped breathing over two hundred times a night?

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