Ask The Sleep Doctor – Narcolepsy, Sleep Apnea, Oral Appliances, Sleeping Pills

Sleep doctor ready to answer questions

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My dad was diagnosed with narcolepsy. My son is 22 and complains of being tired. I’m wondering if there is a hereditary link in families.


Actually, there is but not that strong. The incidence in primary family members is about 1 in 100.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My dad had a stroke a few months ago. He was diagnosed after the stroke with sleep apnea. He rarely uses his machine. Is there anything I could tell him that might motivate him to use it?


Yes, most definitely. A study published this month in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine showed that 60% of stroke patients have significant sleep apnea. When followed over a one-year period, 3% of those treated for sleep apnea have a recurrent stroke. Those who were not treated had a 15% incidence of recurrent stroke in the first year. This is a very impressive study and should be used to encourage those with stroke and sleep apnea to be treated.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. I am thinking about getting an oral appliance for my sleep apnea. Can you give me some idea of the success rate with these?


Yes, providing you are considering a custom-made oral appliance from a sleep dentist. Recent studies have shown the success rate to be 70 to 80%. The same cannot be said for the commonly advertised online devices. You should seek out a dentist with expertise in the field—a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine is a good place to look.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I have had problems falling and staying asleep for years. I’ve tried several prescription and OTC sleep medications. I’m wondering about medical marijuana. What do you think?


Many people smoke marijuana for sleep. However, there is a potential down side. If you do it chronically and then stop, you may experience vivid dreams and nightmares, as well as worse insomnia for up to 45 days. There are however, several studies demonstrating that cannabidiol, a cannabis derivative in the form of oils, is effective. The other advantage of cannabidiol is that it is non-psychoactive and therefore does not produce a high. It is the THC that does that.


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. 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 which offers a wealth of information on sleep topics.

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