I always tell people if you give me an hour of your time to talk to you about sleep, I’ll diagnose you with a sleep disorder. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, to me it means I can help you sleep better. And it’s a reflection of the current state of affairs in our 24-7 technological society. I’ve dealt with several sleep disorders over the course of my life but I’ve found solutions to them that have worked, most of them behavioral or lifestyle modifications.
As a teenager I had very pronounced delayed sleep wake phase disorder which was symptomatic and drove my lark mother bonkers.
As a resident I had shift work disorder and insufficient sleep syndrome.
As a fellow I had a sleep study with esophageal manometry (PES) that showed sleep disordered breathing. I wore CPAP for awhile until I had a tonsillectomy.
As an adult and before I had a baby I had social jet lag which was cured instantly when I had a baby.
If you ask me today if I have a sleep disorder I’ll probably tell you “no.” That’s for a few reasons. The first is because I’ve dealt with all of them. I think that’s important because I firmly believe if I’m going to advise others, I need to practice what I preach. The second is I try not to center myself or my experiences in discussions with others about sleep unless I know it will be productive or helpful. This is especially true when I’m being asked to help other people, I want all of the attention to be on them.
But if you send me a patient or come to see as a patient I want you to know I believe in what I do and what I advise and I also want you to know we all struggle with sleep, the struggle changes and waxes and wanes throughout our lives but the pressure is always there to devalue our sleep.
Sleeping well is a fascinating paradox of prioritizing it but not focusing on it too much – it’s incredibly complex and deceptively simple at the same time.
Have you ever talked to a doctor about your sleep?