When insomnia kills
Fatal family insomnia is a very rare but actually existing disorder associated with BSE (mad cow disease). Affected people develop progressive sleep disorders, accompanied by hallucinations, panic attacks and rapid weight loss. Severe cognitive impairments set in, at some point the person concerned can no longer speak. Death ultimately occurs as a result of the relentlessly progressing sleeplessness.
Relax. You don't have this disease. Although this condition occurs so rarely, most people struggling with sleep feel that they too are in a hopeless situation. Few health problems cause more stress and anxiety than sleep disorders and few are so harmless and easy to treat. As a neurologist, I was already dealing with serious and devastating diseases.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as LouGehrig syndrome, leads to a loss of muscle control and, as a result, to a slow and painful death. A stroke that can rob a patient of speaking is a terrible disease with frequent consequences, for which there are hardly any options for treatment. Sleep disorders can seriously affect health, but unlike many neurological disorders, there are treatment options. Sleep disorders can be remedied. This is certainly not to downplay the importance of sleep disorders.
Diseases such as sleep apnea, in which a patient stops breathing several times during the night, can cause high blood pressure, diabetes and heart failure. In 2007, the outstanding sleep researcher Tom Roth found that a third of our population can be affected by insomnia at any time. Maurice Ohayon's studies showed that restless legs syndrome can be responsible for poor sleep quality in at least 5 percent of adults.
Typical clinical pictures due to poor sleep
Sleep disorders can contribute to problems as diverse as gastroesophageal reflux disease, mood disorders, memory problems, and weight gain. These are serious problems that affect a large number of people. But why not just lie on your GP's examination table to fix the problem? Maybe it's because less than 10 percent of you have ever seen your family doctor to specifically address your sleep problem.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, only 30 percent of general practitioners ask their patients questions about their sleep if they don't address the issue themselves. This is shocking because we spend almost a third of our lives sleeping. To date, I have never had a sudden change in vision or significant rectal bleeding, but I am asked about these symptoms every time I see a doctor. Believe me, if I suddenly saw blood coming out of this opening, my doctor would find out immediately. After that, he wouldn't have to ask me first.
Hereditary systems are influenced by better sleep
Most people think their genetic makeup is something they have very little control over. If you have the genes for green eyes, there is little you can do to change that other than wearing colored contact lenses. It has been shown that people who have the apolipoprotein E ε4 have a ten to thirty times higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than people who do not have this apolipoprotein. Until a few years ago, you were pretty unlucky when it turned out that you have this gene. However, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2013 seriously questioned this hypothesis.
In this study, 698 older participants were observed in a large community-based study. The sleep quality was also assessed in this study. During the study period, 98 of the subjects developed Alzheimer's disease. A result analysis showed that better sleep quality could influence the influence of apolipoprotein E ε4 on the severity of the disease. Patients with a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer's disease could significantly delay the onset of the disease and / or reduce the risk simply by better sleep. Think about it for a minute: Genetic predispositions are influenced by better sleep. We consider a genetic predisposition to be inevitable and inescapable. This study showed that our decisions and behavior can influence our body at a genetic level. Keep the reins in your hand!
Sleep disorders and cancer
As someone who has worked in the field of sleep for as long as I do, I still find the looming connection between sleep disorders and cancer very worrying. While there is clear evidence that poor sleep quality can be associated with various types of cancer (prostate, mouth, nose and colorectal cancer, as well as cancers that primarily develop in nerve tissue), the strongest link between poor sleep and breast cancer appears to be consist. Sleep disorders, such as those caused by shift work and lack of sleep, are not only considered a potential risk factor for the development of breast cancer, but epidemiologist Amanda Phipps also found that insufficient sleep before the diagnosis can provide an indication of the expected therapeutic outcome.
In 2007 the World Health Organization (WHO) published a monograph entitled "Carcinogenicity of shift work, painting / varnishing and fire fighting". You have to let that affect you first. The WHO classifies shift work as a trigger for cancer not only in the same group as inhaling color vapors or smoke from a fire, but also names shift work in the first place! In this initial study, the scientists found a relationship between shift work and breast cancer and a general deterioration in the immune system. Subsequent studies, which focused in particular on shift work, prompted the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an organization of the World Health Organization, to classify shift work as likely to cause cancer (group 2A).
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German edition: ISBN 9783965962248
English version: ISBN 9783965962255 (Translation notice)
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