New Findings on Diagnosing Sleep Problems

This is the future of testing for sleep issues.

Posted Apr 17, 2019

Deposit Photos
Source: Deposit Photos

In the past week, I have seen two research studies that both involved blood testing for sleep disorders. But before I tell you about one of those you will find most interesting, let me first answer the question:

Why on earth would we even consider looking at your blood when it comes to sleep? I will give you three reasons:

  • Your Thyroid. There are a TON of data to show that a malfunctioning thyroid can have a huge effect on your sleep. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) appears to be related to sleep apnea and weight gain. And hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can be the cause of many forms of insomnia. Also, if you have Hashimoto's hypothyroidism (where you go from hypo to hyper all the time) can wreak havoc on a person’s sleep.
  • Vitamin D. There is a national deficiency in this area. But we know this affects your energy levels and sleep (see my blog post on Vitamin D), but recent research indicates that Vitamin D may influence both sleep quality and sleep quantity.
  • Magnesium. No one has enough of this in their system. And it has direct connections to sleep (see my blog post: Magnesium- How it affects your sleep).

These are three blood panels I always try to run on patients, as they are relatively easy to address.

Now, research has now shown that a new path may be forged in the assessment of sleep disorders, especially for sleep deprivation.

Medical News Today reported: "scientists at the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom have been developing a blood test that would enable them to evaluate biomarkers of sleep deprivation. … This prototypical test, the researchers report in the study paper published in the journal Sleep, could eventually be built upon and developed into an assessment of chronic sleep loss….. Researchers identified 68 genes whose expression was affected by lack of sleep. They were able to find out with 92 percent accuracy whether the blood samples came from a person who was sleep deprived or who, to the contrary, had had enough rest."

While this is not out quite yet, the future of this work could be a standardized way to measure sleep deprivation immediately and accurately. This could be helpful, for instance, when someone goes to drive a car, play a sport, or even head to work!