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Sleep Is Best Medicine

Posted May. 13, 2002 10:25,   


Office worker Kim (41) never let his 14 year-old son ride his car, while he is driving, until a month ago.

That is because of daytime sleepiness. He even once woke up from a ripping sound, as his car ran into the side road on highway. Although he keeps a sharp object next to the wheel to be used when he is sleepy, those who know about the reason do not ride on his car.

He sometimes fell asleep even in business conferences. It was such shame to wake up from his own snoring, but he was helpless with the falling eyelids despite such shamefulness.

Kim went through a `polysomnography test` at Korea University’s Ansan Hospital last month, by which electrocardiogram, level of snoring, blood pressure, and respiration conditions were tested while sleeping. Name of the disease was Central Sleep Apnea Syndrome. It occurs when the brain forgets to send signals to breathing muscles, which consequently stops breathing frequently. He was often tired and sleepy in daytime, because he was unable to sleep well during nighttime.

Although he snored severely, doctor discouraged surgery, since it may become dangerous that it will be difficult to know whether he is breathing or not. Kim slept with a kind of oxygen mask instead, which thrust steady pressure of airflow into the nose. Along with this, he even slept wearing a silver thimble on his middle finger according to the theory of acupuncture. Snoring seems to have become much better.

Kim said that “he no longer feels sleepy in daytime nowadays, and it is almost like a new life”, and added, “I want to go on a trip with my son this summer.”

Causes may differ, but many people suffer from sleeping disorders in night and suffer from sleepiness in daytime. There are people, who fall asleep during tests, interviews, conferences, and even sex. Diseased daytime sleepiness is especially dangerous, as it often results in traffic accidents. It must be examined through polysomnography test at clinics, and be treated accordingly.

Although it may not become diseased daytime sleepiness, insomnia in nighttime is harmful for health. Average sleep hours for adult require 8 to 9 hours, even though they may differ for different individuals. The appropriate sleep hours are when there is no feeling of fatigue after waking up without alarm clock.

Seong-Ju Lee stein33@donga.com