View Full Version : Researchers study how sleep works

May 11, 2004, 04:15 PM
Wake-up call

Researchers study how sleep works, how to do it better, and what goes wrong without it

By Carey Goldberg, Globe Staff *|* May 11, 2004

Uwe Koehn's father used to snore with such window-rattling power that you could hear him five rooms away. Never quite well-rested, he needed a nap each afternoon.

In recent years, Koehn, a tall, trim, 64-year-old statistician, began to take after his father -- as his wife, Helen, a retired librarian, could exhaustedly attest.

But times are changing. Instead of accepting tortured sleep as a part of life, Koehn went to the doctor. He was diagnosed with sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous breathing condition, and was prescribed a device that keeps his breathing regular during the night.

Doctors are increasingly recognizing such sleep deprivation as a health issue, as well as a quality-of-life problem. Hundreds of sleep clinics around the country now offer help to patients like Koehn. Drug companies are racing to offer better sleeping and waking in a pill, with two potential blockbuster drugs expected to reach the market in the coming months.

And the science behind sleep medicine is gaining momentum, too, as researchers delve into the basic workings of sleep and learn more about the ill effects of sleep deprivation -- including heightened risks of premature death, heart disease, diabetes and depression.


May 11, 2004, 05:17 PM
Maybe I should look into this. I never seem to get enough rest.

May 11, 2004, 06:48 PM
My dad has sleep apnea, and uses one of those machines. My mom now gets to sleep without hearing the snoring, and my dad gets to sleep restfully. Sleep treatment is a growing area of medicine.

May 12, 2004, 01:48 PM
If they do find out how sleep works, can they tell me? :rolleyes: I've been saddled with insomnia--in my case, an inability to fall asleep--since toddlerhood. I haven't woken up truly rested on a regular basis in literally YEARS. It's more than a little bit of a pain.