BIO | Job description sleep medicine: How to become a stress and sleep doctor?

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Text comes from: Müde war gestern. Wie du deine Schlafstörung selbst behandelst und wieder Schlaf findest (2018) from Dr. Chris Winter, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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Sleeping well is important for health and stress reduction. A doctor tells how and why he made the subject his specialist focus. Best of HR –®

Here writes for you:


Dr. Chris Winter is a well-known sleep doctor and neurologist.


Late risers as a child

I always liked to sleep, that was always important to me. I remember how great it was when I was a child that I slept well on weekends. I also have very clear memories of how I got up when it was snowing to get ready for school, and eagerly listened to the radio hoping that there would be a message that the school would remain closed.

If the school was actually closed once, I could go straight back to my bed and treat myself to an extra hat full of sleep! Since my parents both taught at a public school, it always became a family event.

The decision to become a doctor

When I was seven years old, the doctor prescribed medication for a bad cold. It had to be taken around the clock at regular intervals, so my mother woke me up at night and I had to swallow the intensely tasting liquid antibiotic. Waking up at night and then falling asleep again seemed to make the night longer. I loved it.

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In the third grade my decision was made to become a doctor because I enjoyed drawing organs and was happy to remember the Latin names of the muscles. Family and friends always praised me when I talked about my plans, which certainly strengthened my determination.

Fascinating sleep

Later I worked in dermatology for a while, in pediatrics for a while and even in orthopedics. Various life decisions and a lucky coincidence ultimately made sleep my area of ​​work. I was concerned with sleep long before I became a doctor. Even before I even studied medicine.

I was fascinated by the study of sleep, carried out sleep studies and also got my hands dirty when it came to research. My hands got really dirty during studies of sleep apnea with Yucatán mini pigs, which I did when I was a student. Pigs are fantastic experimental "people" for sleep studies, they can snore as loudly as any human apnea patient.

For all those who are not so familiar with the Yucatán mini pig: "Mini" is actually nothing but their patience when a teenager tries to shave her tail and attach a probe. When it came to sleep, the price wasn't too high for me to smell like a dung heap. My curiosity has remained unusually high to this day.

Medical self-experiments

As a doctor, I want to know as much as possible about what my patients are going through. For this purpose, I have had my blood drawn voluntarily over the years and have completed a three-hour neuropsychological test battery. I put a stomach tube through my nose, electrocuted my muscles, and injected lidocaine into my hip gold, making it numb. I even got a strong electromagnet attached to my head, causing my arm to cramp uncontrollably.

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My medical experiments culminated when I asked during a boring standby night if I could not jump into the MRI tube to get some pictures of my brain. I was interested in the experience itself and also wanted to know what was going on in my upper room. All of my patients said that the tube was very loud, that claustrophobia was easy and that it was pitiful overall. I wasn't particularly impressed. What impressed me was the size of my cerebellum - it was strangely small. The next morning I hung up my MRI image in the reading room of the neurologist.

It was customary to post unusual pictures or a diagnostic dilemma so that other physicians could write their presumptions and theories alongside the pictures. Of those who did not register my name on the recordings, virtually everyone wrote "cerebellar hypotrophy of the cerebellum" or "unusually small cerebellum." Surprisingly, my cerebellum (the part of the brain that is responsible for muscle coordination, indicated by the arrow in the picture) was a little tiny, as can be seen in the picture. The vast majority of those who noticed my name were "testicular atrophy" (testicular loss). Smart ass.

Experience what my patients experienced

The bottom line is: Despite some occasionally unpleasant information, I would like to have seen what my patients experience. This creates trust and a common ground on which to work. I want to help my patients with their problems as best I can and understand what they are going through. As a sleep expert, I help patients with their sleep problems every day. I am also very lucky to work with many professional athletes to help them solve their sleeping problems too. That can mean, for example, that I am one Team help plan for a long road trip the cheapest times to go. It can mean that I help an athlete and his family adapt to a new baby in the house.

Many athletes suffer from sleep disorders before important competitions or after poor performance. In every situation, I hope to help players optimize their performance by improving their sleep. The great thing about sleep is that it affects a wide range of people. Over the years, in my home country, the United States, I have been able to work with elite members of the military and technology as well as with students and help them achieve better results through better sleep.

Become a better doctor through experience

This experience has made me a better doctor for my patients. It is a rewarding task. This book was born out of the desire to help my patients. I wanted to give people who are struggling with sleep something concrete so that they can take control of their own sleep again. And I wanted to share what I have learned in this field in more than twenty years.

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Speaking of doctors, I would like to take a look behind the scenes of a typical medical school. Regardless of the subject area that a doctor will ultimately choose, every student in a medical school studies everything. Medical students spend years listening to one lecture after another on all aspects of medicine. Therefore, this part of medical training is not suitable for an exciting TV series.

Why medical training to sleep is often insufficient

In my second year of study, a neurologist who taught sleep medicine entered our lecture room and told us that we would learn about sleep disorders for the next fifty minutes. I still remember this lecture well. She started by video recording an interview with an older couple. The woman was crying when her husband said in a choked voice that he had dreamed of chasing a deer through his stable. He remembered that when he caught the deer and was about to press his head against the stable wall, he woke up with his wife's head in his hand.

This was an example of a REM sleep behavior disorder in which the motor skills, which are normally reduced in sleep and dream, are maintained. The neurologist also discussed sleep apnea, but I don't remember that because, like most other students, I was too shocked to watch out by the video we just saw. As soon as the lecture started, it ended again. That was the full scope of our sleep training and your family doctor may not have learned about sleep.

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