Nov 23, 2012 by MARCO TORRES
Do You Like To Sleep? You Will Now Be Labeled As Having A Sleeping Disorder?
Enjoy a good nights sleep? How about getting in a good 10 hours of snooze time? Feel very groggy when you awaken? According to new research, you may soon be labeled as having primary hypersomnia to be treated with stimulant medications.
Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine released the results of their study in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The researchers suggest that some people appear to have a distinct, disabling sleep disorder called "primary hypersomnia," which is separate from better-known conditions such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy. They regularly sleep more than 70 hours per week and have difficulties awakening. To break it down on a daily basis, that's only one hour more per day on the higher end of the range that doctors and sleep professionals recommend to working adults which is typically in the 7-9 hour range. Most teenagers require 9-10 hours sleep per day and if they don't get it, they feel very sleepy and find it difficult to function during the day. So are they primary hypersomniacs?
Another question is what percentage of the population has difficulties awakening from sleep? There is a massive segment of the American population that are sleep deprived and many of them have difficulties awakening whether they have 6 or 10 hours of sleep. This is mostly attributed to poor diet, stress and lifestyle habits.
"These individuals report feeling as if they're walking around in a fog -- physically, but not mentally awake," says lead author David Rye, MD, PhD, professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine and director of research for Emory Healthcare's Program in Sleep.
I'm not sure if David Rye has actually caught a glimpse of the American population lately or their behavioral tendencies, but most of them are not mentally awake at any waking point.
"When encountering excessive sleepiness in a patient, we typically think it's caused by an impairment in the brain's wake systems and treat it with stimulant medications," said Rye.
Yes, I'm sure stimulant medications are the solution to the problem of people needing to adjust their diet, stress level and lifestyle. That will fix everything. More than 67% of Americans drink soda pop laced with sugar and artificial sweeteners, or consume more processed food with high fructose corn syrup and other chemicals than any other population in the world. Adding stimulant medications is to address this problem?
The clinical study is clearly a marketing hype for the drug
flumazenil. Emory researchers showed that treatment with the drug flumazenil can supposedly restore alertness.
Flumazenil is usually used in cases of overdose of benzodiazepines, a widely used class of anesthetics and sedatives such as diazepam (Valium) and zolpidem (Ambien). The small list of its side effects include seizures (convulsions), weak or shallow breathing; continued drowsiness, confusion, fear, panic attack, fast or uneven heart rate, headaches, blurred vision, shivering, and tremors. Did you happen to catch the part about continued drowsiness? So one of the side effects is actually self-defeating the goal of the medication itself.
Merrill Mitler, PhD, a program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke said they don't even know what really causes a person to be a primary hypersomnia yet still recommended the medication. "Primary hypersomnias are poorly understood. This study represents a breakthrough in determining a cause for these disorders and devising a rational approach to therapy," she stated.
The paper goes on to describe how samples of patients' cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) contain a substance that enhances the effects of the brain chemical GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid). GABA is one of the main inhibitory chemicals of the nervous system -- alcohol, barbituates and benzodiazepines all enhance the effects of GABA. This is how they promote the need for the drug.
"Previous studies with flumazenil indicate that it does not have a wake-promoting effect on most people, so its ability to normalize vigilance in this subpopulation of extremely sleepy patients appears genuinely novel," Rye says. So the real question is why even prescribe it??
There may certainly be some people with an actual sleep disorder and severely impaired
consciousness that prevents them from functioning in their daily lives, however the researchers here are attempting to herd a very large percentage of Americans into this profile and assign a label where none should exist -- all to increase clientele for flumazenil.
The most disturbing fact of this study is that the researchers have not even identified the GABA-enhancing substance. It could be a specific hormone or neuromodulator that is malfunctioning as a result of environmental or chemical toxins associated with the food supply or other drugs themselves. They simply don't know, so their solution is to treat the symptoms instead of attempting to address the real cause which is external stimuli, not internal.
Considering the junk food factor and that more than 78 percent of the working population is overworked, stressed and in need of more sleep, doesn't that sound like a more suitable hypothesis as to why people are not functional in their daily lives?
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.