Daytime Dozing: Something to Wake Up About
By Lisa E. Stafford
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON -- Do you feel drowsy at mid-morning? In the
afternoon? At work after a heavy lunch? Or all the time, even when you
think you've had a full night's rest? Your problem may be a sleeping
Excessive daytime sleepiness, or EDS, is the prime symptom of a
number of disorders, including narcolepsy and apnea. Victims can't
stay awake in the day even after getting "enough" sleep at night. They
may fall asleep uncontrollably at inappropriate times and places.
"Due to greater public awareness of sleep disorders, the Navy has
seen an increase in the number of referrals for service members and
their families with sleep disorders," said Navy Dr. (Capt.) D. R.
Kang, specialty leader for Otolarynology and residency program
director at Naval Medical Center San Diego. "The shift work schedules
of many Navy personnel can affect the quality of their sleep and
possibly lead to insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness."
The Navy addresses sleep disorders via sleep laboratories and
various medical specialists with backgrounds in neurology, pulmonology
or otolarynology. The Navy has two sleep labs that specifically treat
active duty service members with sleep disorders. One is at Naval
Medical Center San Diego and the other at National Naval Medical
Center Bethesda. Other naval hospitals send patients out to civilian
sleep labs for evaluation.
The Naval Medical Center San Diego sleep lab has plans to do a
pilot study of sleep patterns in service members with closed head
injury. The lab is also interested in looking at sleep patterns and
the effect of low ambient light exposure on some Navy ships and
"I think it is good that there is finally more attention on sleep
disorders," Kang said. "It would certainly help more people to get a
better night's sleep."
This issue is especially important in military settings, where
service members must be alert at all times, particularly during
"EDS interferes with a person's ability to concentrate and
perform daily tasks and routines. People often report feelings of low
esteem, frustration and anger about being misunderstood," said Dr.
Michael J. Thorpy, director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at
Montefiore Medical Center in New York. People with some sleeping
disorders also tend to have problems with their social, work and
family relationships, he said.
According to a new National Sleep Foundation Gallup survey, about
one-third of American adults -- 63 million -- operate at levels of
sleepiness considered hazardous by a scientifically validated sleep
measurement by the American Board of Sleep Medicine.
"Car accidents caused [by drivers] falling asleep at the wheel
tend to be deadlier than other crashes and account for at least
100,000 police-reported crashes and 1,500 deaths a year in the United
States," Thorpy said. "Moreover, sleepiness contributes to
inattention, which accounts for one-sixth of all accidents."
Being tired all the time is not something to dismiss, foundation
experts said, yet 36 percent of those surveyed believe afternoon
sleepiness is normal. Feeling tired or sleepy can negatively affect
productivity, but most of those surveyed who experienced daytime
sleepiness didn't consider it serious enough to consult a doctor, the
In the survey, 82 percent of adults reported taking measures to
stay awake; 70 percent said they drank coffee or other caffeinated
beverages. Naps were surprisingly popular, with nearly one in five
reporting at least one a day.
"EDS can be a symptom of a medical condition such as insomnia and
is also characteristic of several sleep disorders," said Christine
Englehardt, executive director of the American Sleep Apnea
Association. "Nearly 95 percent of individuals who suffer from sleep
disorders go undiagnosed and untreated," Thorpy said. The condition is
rarely caused by psychological or psychiatric disorders such as
depression, he said. However, several sleep disorders associated with
o Narcolepsy, a disorder affecting a part of the brain that
regulates sleep and wakefulness. It affects an estimated 200,000 adult
Americans. Narcolepsy usually begins in the second decade of life and,
once it appears, is a life-long condition.
o Sleep apnea, a disorder that causes a person to repeatedly stop
breathing for short periods during sleep. Victims are often unaware
they've stopped breathing and won't awaken whether they resume
breathing quietly or in explosive gasps and snores. These disruptions
prevent deep, refreshing sleep. An obstructed airway is the most
common cause of apnea. Approximately 12 million Americans, mostly men,
have sleep apnea.
o Restless Legs Syndrome consists of involuntary movements of the
legs, feet and or toes during sleep. Victims are often not aware of
these movements and often complain of several other symptoms such as
insomnia and EDS.
o Circadian Rhythm Disorder affects about 70 percent of the 25
million Americans who work night shifts or other nontraditional
schedules. While a day has 24 hours, most people's bodies
unconsciously operate on a sleep-wake rhythm of 27 to 28 hours, and
while they adapt to a night schedule, their bodies still "prefer" to
be awake in daylight. The disorder interrupts a person's "body clock"
rhythm. It can take different forms and, for instance, can be as
simple as delayed sleep phase syndrome, in which a person gets totally
off kilter by progressively going to sleep later and awakening later.
You can consult one of the following for sleep disorders:
American Sleep Disorders Association
1610 14th St., NW, Suite 300
Rochester, MN 55901
Web site: http://www.asda.org
American Sleep Apnea Association
2025 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 905
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 293-3650
Fax: (202) 293-3656
Web site: http://www.sleepapena.org
P.O. Box 42460
Cincinnati, OH 45242
Phone: (513) 891-3522
Fax: (513) 891-9936
Web site: http://www.websciences.org/narnet
National Sleep Foundation
729 15th St., NW, 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Web site: http://www.sleepfoundation.org
Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 7050, Department CP
Rochester, MN 55903-7050
Web site: http://www.rls.org