The Doctor Is In: Help for the Sleep Deprived

Join Deena Centofanti and our experts from Henry Ford Health System as they tackle the topic of getting enough sleep. 

Kathleen Yaremchuk, M.D.
Chair, Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Henry Ford Hospital
Meeta Signh, M.D.
Senior Staff, Henry Ford Sleep Disorders Center

Hectic schedules have many of us cutting into time that we should be allowing for sleep. Sometimes not getting enough sleep is by choice, other times despite our best efforts to doze off, sleep just won't come. More than one-quarter of the U.S. population report occasionally not getting enough sleep, while nearly 10 percent experience chronic insomnia.

The negative consequences associated with lack of sleep:
Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression
Motor vehicle and machinery-related crashes, causing substantial injury and disability
Reduced work productivity due to lack of concentration, accuracy, mood, and creativity

Many therapies and treatments promise a good night's sleep but what delivers?
Supplements like Melatonin, Magnesium and Inositol
Sleep lights
Sound therapy machines
The scent of lavender on bedding
New surgical options for serious sleep disorders, including sleep apnea
More over-the-counter sleep aids are bought than any other OTC drug

How important is one's sleep position in terms of guaranteeing a good night's sleep?

The position that you sleep in can cause back and neck pain, muscle cramping, impaired circulation, headaches, heartburn and impact sleep apnea and snoring.
Only eight percent of people sleep on their backs- but it's the healthiest neutral position for many. However, the tongue can block the breathing tube, making it a dangerous position for those with sleep apnea or who snore.
Fifteen percent of adults are side sleepers - where your torso and legs are relatively straight. The position is good for avoiding back and neck pain and reflux. It's a good posture for snorers and those with sleep apnea because it keeps airways open.
A whopping 41 percent of adults sleep on their side in a fetal position; torso is hunched and knees are bent.  Being curled up too tightly can strain the joints or back in arthritis sufferers. Reduce hip strain by placing a pillow between your knees.
Seven percent of adults sleep on their stomach, which can lead to back and neck pain, since it's hard to keep your spine in a neutral position.

When is snoring a sign of bigger sleep problems?
Snoring is more than an annoyance to your bed partner. In many cases, loud snoring can signal a more serious sleep disorder, including sleep apnea which causes repeated stops and starts in breathing during sleep that wake the individual.

Sleep apnea is two times more common in men than women, and it can lead to significant sleep loss and prevent deep, restful sleep.

CPAP is a common treatment for sleep apnea, delivering air pressure through a mask placed over your nose while you sleep - but it doesn't work for everyone.

A new implantable pacemaker-like device is now available for sleep apnea patients - Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation is designed for those who find CPAP uncomfortable and don't use it consistently. Inspire allows patient to activate the device with a remote before they go to bed.

At what point should one seek medical help?

If your sleep problems persist or if they interfere with how you feel or function during the day, you should seek evaluation and treatment by a physician, preferably one familiar with assessing and treating sleep disorders.  Keep a diary of your sleep habits for about ten days to discuss at the visit. You can also print out a report if you wear one of the increasingly popular activity trackers that can also track your sleep.

To learn about sleep studies being offered at Henry Ford, call 248.344.2396 or visit