I never cease to be amazed at the similarities of people from all over the world, every ethnicity, every country, and how small the world has become making it easier to learn about each other. I was recently in Kyoto, Japan, and was stopped on the street by a gentleman who wished to welcome me to his city. It turned out that he was educated in the U.S. at the same schools that I was. He had recently retired as Professor of English Language and Semantics at the University of Kyoto. As we spoke of many things, including medicine, he asked questions regarding sleeping pills, sleep disturbances, and alcohol relating to whether these represented character deficiencies and weaknesses (as one would consider when looking at most literature).
Actually, this is a very important topic. Despite the new development of sleep laboratories and sleep studies we know very little about the subject. Indeed, even the newest and most expensive of our tests is unable to predict when a person in a com...
"Disease exists, if either sleep or watchfulness be excessive" (Hippocrates, Aphorism LXXI, from a worthwhile article on sleep disturbance in The Lancet 2004; 364: 1959-1973). I had mentioned in a previous column that not feeling well in the morning was a sign that all things might not be well with your body, and have been asked to expand on this. Our bodies are wonderful machines that replenish the system during our down time: sleep. Sleep mode (a very poorly understood phenomenon that we share with other mammals), is associated with heart rate and blood pressure decrease, disconnection from dealing with external stimuli (our monitor shuts down), and our endocrine glands reduce production of hormones. Complex changes occur within our brains, and the thoughts and worries that we take to bed are replaced by new morning thoughts on arising. We wake up "refreshed". Continuing the computer analogy, we have rebooted. When this rebooting isn't complete, somethi...
Irregular sleep-wake syndrome is sleeping without any real schedule.
Sleep-wake syndrome - irregular
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Some people have an irregular sleep-wake pattern because of a problem with brain function, the body's internal clock (circadian pacemaker), or other reasons.
This disorder is very uncommon. It typically occurs in someone with a brain dysfunction who does not have a regular routine during the day. The amount of total sleep time is normal, but the body clock loses its normal circadian cycle.
Similar symptoms may be seen in people who have frequently changing work shifts and in travelers who often change time zones. These people have a different condition, such as shift work sleep disorder or jet lag syndrome.
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