Education on Sleep Disorders Is Vital

Published Online: Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Experts attending the first National Sleep Symposium stressed that patients and physicians need more education about sleep disorders so that these disorders can be diagnosed and properly treated. The conference focused on several sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy.

On the topic of insomnia, Daniel Buysse, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh, said that it can be caused by a number of vicious cycles. Also, he emphasized that everyone requires a different amount of sleep, making treatment a challenge. There are several treatments available for sleep apnea, but few physicians and patients consider the diagnosis, according to Stuart Quan, MD, of the University of Arizona.

Although restless leg syndrome is easily treatable, it is 1 of several conditions that are underdiagnosed and underreported, noted Mark Mahowald, MD, of the University of Minnesota. Although no drugs are approved for this condition, studies indicate that low iron levels are probably the cause.

In addition, patients oftentimes are prescribed older drugs with serious side effects because no test for narcolepsy is readily available, said Emmanuel Mignot, PhD, director of the Stanford University Center for Narcolepsy.

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