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Who’s stealing my sleep? (3/4/11)

March 4, 2011

Thieves of Rest

Who would steal a CPAP machine?  One could imagine patients faced with reluctant health insurers might just go out and their own sleep apnea therapy  – but lifting 39 machines?

Cheryl Pender of Indiana University Health at La Porte has posted bail on the charge of stealing 29 CPAP and 10 BiPAP machines from her employer.  The money was gambled away.   The machines had reappeared in Oklahoma VA hospitals, where the manufacturer recognized them.  She’s facing two to eight years.

Other more common thieves of sleep are spouses, partners, and family members performing acts in the night of which they may be unaware, including:

Sleep Apnea

The snoring of sleep apnea had led to innumerable family crises.  Many sleep apnea victims, including the relatively quiet ones with central sleep apnea (where the brain more or less forgets to sleep) are brought to medical attention by their spouses, children, or roommates.  Sometimes they’ve watched their loved one turn blue and appear ready to imminently expire, but more often the need is personal – “I can’t sleep with that **$*# snoring next to me!”  Repeated attempts with varied forms of noise cancellation technologies have been exhausted;  attempts to sleep in other rooms have been suppressed by the “two motel” rule – “I don’t just hear him (occasionally her) across the room  – I can hear him in another motel.”

Antidote – Fortunately sleep apnea is very treatable by: CPAP machines, providing an air splint to get air down into the back of the throat and lungs; dental devices; weight loss, and with generally far less efficacy, surgery.  For those who snore alone, different positioning in bed and CPAP may help a great deal.

Restless Legs

Restless legs does more than keep people from watching a movie or sitting in an airplane seat. The misery of restless legs includes kicking uncontrollably  – including the folks next to them.

Generally the co-sleeper is not black and blue come morning, but they are often woken repeatedly and unexpectedly.  The results are sleeplessness, daytime sleepiness, and increasing irritability.

Antidote – Leg kickers often do better if they walk in the evening prior to sleep.  Several medications can attenuate leg kicks, though sometimes couples really have no choice but to sleep in separate beds.

Stealing Blankets

A couple of weeks ago a new news report appeared off the transom – couples who slept together slept less well, and often did better with separate beds or at least separate blankets.

That the study was paid for by bed manufacturers should have raised a few eyebrows.  Yet the fact remains – your partner may steal your blanket while you sleep.

And be entirely unrepentant – they will claim they were asleep and didn’t know!

There are plenty of clinical studies showing people sleep better alone than as a couple.  Yet for many reasons, ranging from love to affection to opportunities for sex to social connection, people like to sleep with the one they love.

Antidote – Buying separate blankets is usually a fairly inexpensive solution to a frequently chronic problem.

Sleep Envy

There are only seven deadly sins amidst an infinity of others, but few know about sleep envy.   The culprit – a partner or spouse who sleeps better than you do.

Envy is compounded when the aforementioned “better” sleeper also has sleep apnea/and or leg kicks, waking you throughout the night.

Though some British studies argue perhaps 25% of couples suffer from sleep apnea, the serious cases are rather less common.  Often the problem is highly soluble.

Antidotes – treat the offending sleep disorder that wakes you up; copy your partner’s sometimes superior sleep hygiene skills; learn to walk in morning light and use hot baths prior to sleep.

All the Other Disorders

Many sleep disorders will rob their bed partners of their sleep.  Simmering resentment may be the result but is rarely the solution.  Recognizing what the problem is, talking about it, and then dealing with it is a sensible course of action.

Everybody needs to sleep – everybody.  You can’t live without it.
Rest, sleep, Sarasota Sleep Doctor, well-being, regeneration, longevity, body clocks, insomnia, sleep disorders, the rest doctor, matthew edlund, the power of rest, the body clock, psychology today, huffington post, redbook, longboat key news

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