Ask The Sleep Doctor: How Common is Sleep Apnea, Vagal Nerve Stimulators, Ambien and More

Sleep doctor ready to answer questions

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

It seems like many of my friends, have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. How common is it?


Overall, 25 million Americans have sleep apnea. In fact, a study in 2014 showed that 26% of all adults between 30 and 70 have sleep apnea.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My husband has epilepsy. He had a vagal nerve stimulator implanted last year. Since then he snores and is more tired. What do you think?


We know that vagal nerve stimulators can affect the throat muscles and cause sleep apnea. In fact, in a recent study the incidence of developing sleep apnea was 25% after implantation. I would recommend, as did the authors of the study, that your husband bring this to the attention of his doctor. He probably should be studied for sleep apnea.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My 9-year-old granddaughter gets about seven to eight hours of sleep. She is always tired and frequently moody. I told my son that I think she needs more sleep. What is appropriate for this age?


9 to 11 hours is an appropriate amount of sleep. Certainly, her symptoms could be due to inadequate sleep.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My elderly mother is unsteady on her feet. She has a hard time going to sleep and recently was placed on Ambien (zolpidem) to help her sleep. Her doctor said it was a very low dose. I am concerned because she gets up several times a night to go to the bathroom. What do you think?


Personally, I would prefer she not be placed on zolpidem. Several studies have shown the risk of fractures, especially hip fracture, increases by as much as 70% in patients on this drug. I would recommend cognitive behavioral therapy be the first approach to her insomnia. Another approach, in the elderly, is low doses of melatonin taken about one hour before bedtime.


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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1 thought on “Ask The Sleep Doctor: How Common is Sleep Apnea, Vagal Nerve Stimulators, Ambien and More

  1. Karen Reply

    I have been on stilnox for over 20 years for insomnia! I’m completely stuck as without I do not sleep. Do stilnox impact vagal nerve? I’m concerned long term impacts for brain nervous system etc?

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