Broken Sleep May Be Natural Sleep
March 01, 2007
Once again your patient, an accountant and tax specialist, is complaining about his sleep. More nights than not he awakens at about 2 am. An hour goes by, sometimes 2, before he returns to sleep. You've prescribed 4 different hypnotics. Each gave the same unsatisfactory result. For 2 weeks, your patient got the 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep he-and you-seek, but then the old pattern returned. Following your instructions, he avoids caffeine, doesn't exercise after 6 pm, and confines his activities in bed to sleep, but to no avail. You refer him to a sleep laboratory, and the results there are entirely consistent with what he's been telling you. In the sleep lab he falls asleep at 11 pm, awakens at 2:30 am, returns to sleep at 4 am, and awakens for good at 7:30 am. He does not have sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or depression.