Ask the Sleep Doctor

Ask the Sleep Doctor – Topics: sleep apnea and A-Fib, inadequate sleep, eating fish, naps hurting sleep

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Is it true that sleep apnea, if untreated, can cause Atrial Fibrillation?

Answer:

Yes, recent studies have shown that over 50% of patients with atrial fibrillation have sleep apnea. In another study, sleep apnea was found to increase the incidence of A Fib three times the normal. Finally, a number of recent studies have demonstrated that the recurrence rate of atrial fibrillation, after reversion to normal rhythm, is very high in those with untreated sleep apnea.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I don’t get enough sleep during the week. Therefore, I sleep in on weekends. However, come Sunday night, I cannot fall asleep at an earlier time. As a result, I don’t get enough sleep, and I am miserable on Monday. Can you explain?

Answer:

Yes. By sleeping in on weekends, you are delaying your normal exposure to sunlight in the morning. As a result, the normal elevation of body temperature triggered by this starts later in the day and is still high as you try to go to sleep. A drop in core body temperature is a very strong signal to fall asleep. I would recommend you ensure at least seven to nine hours of sleep on weekdays and do not sleep in on weekends. Otherwise, you will remain in the same viscous cycle.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Is it true that increased fish consumption can benefit sleep? If so, I would like to see my two children who never eat seafood and have a terrible time falling asleep, eat more fish.

Answer:

Yes, there are several studies indicating that the consumption of fatty fish–defined as having greater than 5% fat content–can benefit sleep. In one study in Oxford England, children who consumed increased amounts of salmon slept on average 45 minutes more than their peers did. Another study done on prisoners resulted in improved sleep quality and decreased time to fall asleep. We believe it is a combination of factors, including increased vitamin D as well as the PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) that contribute to improved sleep.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My husband retired about a year ago. He is bored and has not yet developed any new interests. He naps anywhere from two to three hours a day. He is frustrated by the fact that he has trouble falling and staying asleep. He blames it on his retirement. I think the naps are a factor. Your thoughts?

Answer:

I agree with you. Napping for over 45 minutes will decrease the drive to fall and stay asleep. As soon as we get into deeper stages of sleep, the brain will subtract that from your ability to fall and stay asleep. I would encourage your husband to be more active, nap no more than 20 minutes at a time, and exercise regularly, especially in the morning sunlight. If he does that, I think he will see a rapid return to normal sleep.

 

Dr. Robert Rosenberg, D.O., FCCP, DABSM

Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, FCCP, is the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona and sleep medicine consultant for Mountain Heart Health Services in Flagstaff, Arizona. Dr. Rosenberg is board certified in sleep medicine, pulmonary medicine, and internal medicine. He is a contributing sleep expert blogger and his advice has appeared in Women’s Health, Prevention, Ladies’ Home Journal, Parenting, and O Magazine, among others. Dr Rosenberg is a weekly newspaper columnist addressing sleep Q&As. Dr. Rosenberg appears on TV and radio and lectures throughout the country on Sleep Medicine. His book Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day  is a best seller. Dr Rosenberg’s latest book is The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety. Visit Dr Rosenberg’s website WWW.AnswersForSleep.com which is a wealth of information on sleep topics.

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