Sleep Health Comes of Age

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In 1937, audiences laughed hysterically as Walt Disney’s seven dwarves snored mightily in various buzz saw tones. More than three quarters of a century later, it’s obvious that “Doc” should have sent every one of his diminutive companions to the sleep lab (I know, they didn’t exist) for a sleep test. Far from a laughing matter, poor sleep is no longer considered a mere inconvenience. In fact, many physicians are including sleep as a vital leg on the sacred three-legged stool that includes diet and exercise. After all, the average human exercises 15 minutes to an hour per day, but sleep (with any luck) takes up a third of most lives. Mass media outlets are taking note, with influential magazines such as Time running widely circulated articles that boldly proclaim The Power of Sleep. “New research shows a good night’s rest isn’t a luxury,” writes Time reporter Alice Park. “It’s critical for your brain and for your health.” Richard K. Bogan, MD, chief medical officer, Sleep Med Inc, Columbia, SC, agrees that the general awareness of not only obstructive sleep apnea (a condition where breathing pauses during sleep due to a narrowed or partly blocked airway) but all sleep disorders, is certainly increasing. “The world has begun to recognize that sleep is one of the three legs of health, and there’s a lot of awareness from the consumer perspective, but certainly from the clinical perspective,” says Bogan. Bogan has seen awareness blossom, and these days he is more confident than ever about the future of sleep medicine. Ultimately, that future must encompass all of sleep disordered breathing, from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) to insomnia. Since consistency and compliance are so vital in any continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment, long considered the gold standard for treating OSA, many experts agree that it’s a good idea to buy a light and portable CPAP unit than can be easily used by patients who like to travel.

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