Please Explain: Insomnia and Other Sleep Disturbances

Friday, April 04, 2014

Dr. Matthew Ebben of Weill Cornell Medical College’s Center for Sleep Medicine discusses what normal sleep is and what happens when it gets disrupted by disorders such as insomnia, snoring, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, sleep walking, and narcolepsy. He explains the causes and treatments for sleep problems. Dr. Ebben is Assistant Professor of Psychology in Clinical Neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College.


Dr. Matthew Ebben

Comments [20]

MBB from CT
I am now 82, I have been using a sleep apnea apparatus for almost 20 years. I now find it more annoying than useful and I often remove it during the night. Often I don't even put it on. In the AM my head does not feel like it is full of liquid and I don't continually blow my nose for more than an hour. Did I outgrow the need for the CPAP? This new one is barely a year old. Is it safe to just stop using it? I have no one here to tell me if I am back to snoring. Thank you MBB

May. 01 2014 09:46 PM
Beth from NC

Dr. Ebben emphasizes that individuals are quite different in their sleep needs and problems, but he makes many generalizations, and they don't align with life experience. Among these comments: that depressed people don't actually sleep more, they just spend more time in bed. And funny, Dr. E said that sleep talking is seen in adults over 50 and more often in men; I'm a woman who's been sleep talking since my 20's at least.

It sounds like Dr. Ebben's data come from lab studies; having been through a few sleep studies, I can't believe that lab data are reliable or generalizable since there are a number of foreign variables present when sleeping in a lab, no matter how "homey" they try to make it. And this points to something not addressed adequately by Dr. Ebben--the effect of one's emotional state on sleep. For example, anxiety can not only keep someone from falling asleep, but can cause someone to be a "light" sleeper, awakening easily and often. Also, waking in a darkened room creates a different emotional response in individuals than waking in a sunlit room.

My point isn't that my experience is universal, but that Dr. E needs to learn about real-life experiences of people. Collect data by talking with people and their sleep-partners to really get a picture of what's going on, similar to what Kinsey, Masters, and Johnson did. Brain waves, pulse, and O2 levels can be measured in a lab. A person's inner experience can only be collected by talking with them.

Apr. 06 2014 02:34 PM
who from Bushwick

Eat Marijuana an hour before bed.

Apr. 06 2014 10:32 AM

when I was pregnant I experience poor sleep due to nausea, so I started (with my OB's consent) to take unisome. It was the only way to help the nausea and sleep. Is that something that is not recommended because it was not "natural."

(the babies are healthy by the way)

Apr. 04 2014 01:55 PM

There are a number of really good sleep researchers who study infants and parents together. James McKenna and Helen Ball are the most well known. The oxytocin released from breastfeeding helps mothers go back into deep sleep faster. In fact, mothers forget 50% of the feeds they do at night when they breastfeed. Dads get oxytocin from holding their babies. When infants and parent sleep in the same room, their sleep cycles tend to synchronize -- and furthermore, the risk of SIDS is 30% lower.

Apr. 04 2014 01:53 PM
Milos from Brooklyn, NY

Why does the doctor say the word "circadian," which should be pronounced "sir-KAY-dee-an" as if it were spelled "sarkeedian"? (Leonard just pronounced it correctly, as did a caller.)

The doctor is an expert and he can't properly pronounce the most crucial word in this conversation. It's driving me crazy. I won't be able to sleep tonight.

Apr. 04 2014 01:51 PM
John Frenzser

I read an article recently that suggested 8 hours of sleep is a recent development since the invention of electricity. Before that humans went to sleep as soon as it was dark (because it was too dangerous to go out in the dark before street lights). There were citations in literature of a "first sleep" and "second sleep" with a normal wake-up period after four hours. True?

Apr. 04 2014 01:50 PM

My mother couldn't sleep UNLESS the TV was on. If my dad tried to turn it off, she'd wake up and demand it be turned on again. Do some people need light and sound stimulation to sleep?

Apr. 04 2014 01:49 PM

I find the Doctor very general in his answers, things we mostly know already. It seems that Leonard is more knowledgeable than him.
Not a very helpful discussion.

Apr. 04 2014 01:48 PM
Lauren from NYC

I sleep walk when I drink 5+ drinks. What is the cause of this?

Apr. 04 2014 01:47 PM

Because I want my daughter (9yo) to get as much sleep as possible-- I have blackout shades on her window to totally block out sunlight. Is is bad to use them all the time? Is her circadian rhythm being messed up with the black out shades since she does not wake up to natural light?

Apr. 04 2014 01:45 PM
Daniel einbund

What is the relationship between sleep and epilepsy?

Apr. 04 2014 01:44 PM
Gary from Port Washington, NY

ABC Nightly News had a report on ASMR or Sleep Whispering: Autonomous sensory meridian response: What is your comment on this? Thank you.

Apr. 04 2014 01:44 PM
Sue from Glen Rock, NJ

I had a problem falling asleep and was given a prescription, which I became dependent upon. I spoke with my doctor and transitioned to melatonin, which is available over the counter in various strengths.

Apr. 04 2014 01:43 PM
Elaine from Baltimore

Is it safe to give children melatonin if they have trouble getting to sleep?

Apr. 04 2014 01:39 PM
Nicole Diz from Hastings-on-Hudson

Is it helpful to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each night?

Apr. 04 2014 01:38 PM
Kris from Brooklyn

Can the speaker talk about the impact of amino acids (L-Theanine and Gaba) and nutrition on sleep. I have found L-Theanine to be helpful but I wonder about the side effects of taking amino acids. Thanks

Apr. 04 2014 01:36 PM
Melissa M. from Brooklyn, NY

I'd like to learn more about autism and sleep. I have a 6 year old son with autism who cannot fall asleep well on his own. He also tends to wake up very early and be very active. I hear that this is common in children with autism. Can this be explained?

Apr. 04 2014 01:36 PM
Mary Beth from Manhattan

Can wearing socks and gloves help with falling asleep?

Apr. 04 2014 01:34 PM
Rachel from New York City

My 19 year old son takes a long nap after classes. He's been doing this since high school and continues in college. He then wakes up for dinner and homework and stays up late. (I'm guessing since he's away at college.) Recently he went to a counselor because he said he couldn't concentrate for longer than 20 minutes. The counselor suggested he may have ADHD, but I suspect his sleeping habits are getting in the way of his concentration. Your thoughts?

Apr. 04 2014 01:33 PM

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