On the Front Lines

Haunting nightmares of war and trauma can keep veterans from a healthy night's sleep. The fear of wearing something on their face has driven some of my patients to not wear their CPAP masks, leaving their sleep apnea untreated. Scars from past experience can persist for decades.

Monitoring the Rest You Need, All on Your Wrist

Scientists have been using devices that track movements for at least 30 years with a theory being, if you move a lot you are probably not asleep. The devices, called actigraphs, can be a decent rough measure of a person’s sleep time and have been used in sleep research. Today's technology offers even more ways to measure your sleep.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie? When Animals Disturb Your Sleep

We have all been awakened by the neighbor’s howling or barking dog, meowing cat, and chirping and singing birds starting their day. Certainly being awakened by somebody else’s pet isn’t a reason why we would ever go to a doctor. Or, is it?

Charles Dickens and Sleep

What does English author Charles Dickens, the man who wrote “A Christmas Carol” and who described marvelous characters like Tiny Tim, Scrooge, Oliver Twist and Mr. Pickwick, have to do with sleep, and why am I writing about Dickens on a sleep blog? You will be surprised to know that Dickens and his writings have had a great impact on me and my career.

The Tigers Come at Night

Patients sometimes have symptoms that are so distressing that they are afraid to discuss them. Sometimes these symptoms involve sleep issues such as intense dreams or sleepwalking which can be attributed to REM Sleep Behavior Disorder.

Too Many Sleeping Pills!

One of the sights that terrifies some doctors is when a patient comes to a consultation bringing a shopping bag containing vials of pills. I personally was dumbstruck recently when I saw a patient's assortment of pill bottles. She reassured me that this bag contained only the medications she used to help her sleep, but ultimately she wanted to be off the medications.

Dreams That Kill

What happens when people physically react to their dreams, and in so doing, harm others or themselves?

Mass Insomnia at the Witnessing of Trauma

In our personal quest to make sense of the Boston Marathon bombings, millions of people lost sleep the night of April 15, 2013. Some may continue to experience sleeplessness, or awaken from nightmares triggered by the images they witnessed either in person or via the media. Why does witnessing a traumatic event disturb our sleep even when we are not in imminent danger?

The Mystery of Narcolepsy

Patients with narcolepsy — a difficult and dangerous sleep disorder that can elude diagnosis — have the manifestations of REM sleep at the wrong times in the wrong places, sometimes with serious consequences. The three case studies I talk about here suggest that many doctors do not know enough about sleep disorders in general, and narcolepsy in particular.

Collateral Damage

Medical science does not yet understand why witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event sears that event into the brain and may cause symptoms decades later. Are there actual chemical or structural changes in the brain related to fear, pain, guilt, and shame? What is the role of disrupted sleep and nightmares in perpetuating symptoms of PTSD?

A SAD Tale

For those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, spring can't come soon enough. There's hope because Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow on February 2.