|PHOTO: KATHY PASCO IS STARTING TO
SLEEP LONGER AFTER BEING TREATED FOR
A SLEEP DISORDER FOLLOWING A CAR
It's bad enough that Kathy Pasco had to endure 25 operations after a horrific car accident in 1985. She also developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), along with nightmares and insomnia.
"Most nights I was only able to sleep about three hours," says the 52-year old Romeoville resident.
Pasco's pulmonologist, David McElligott, MD, of Suburban Lung Associates, who was treating her for asthma, suggested an overnight sleep study at the Edward Sleep Center. The result: a diagnosis of severe sleep apnea, a breathing problem that poses a health risk and compromises sleep quality.
Since Pasco had multiple sleep issues, some related to PTSD, she was referred to Keith Warren, MD, also of Suburban Lung Associates, who is a psychiatrist and internist, as well as a sleep medicine specialist at the Sleep Center.
According to Dr. Warren, PTSD is just one of many mental health problems that can cause sleep troubles.
"Depression and anxiety disorders, such as PTSD and substance abuse can bring about insomnia," says Dr. Warren. "The reverse is also true. Sleep disorders can trigger mental health issues, such as irritability and concentration difficulties, as well as memory, mood and anger problems."
Dr. Warren believes in an integrated approach to sleep medicine.
"We have to take into account not only the sleep disorder but also any contributing mental health or physical problems – such as pain or acid reflux disease," he says.
Pasco's sleep disorder treatment includes medication, behavioral therapy, sleep hygiene education and use of a medical device to control her sleep apnea.
Pasco's PTSD treatment includes medication and regular visits to Dr. Warren. She also sees a psychologist.
"It's a real advantage for me to see a psychiatrist who's experienced in treating sleep apnea and PTSD," says Pasco. "Talking with him has helped greatly. I finally started talking about what led to the stress, instead of holding it all in. I can now sleep more hours each night. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm confident I will be."
"We all need to appreciate the role sleep plays in our overall physical and mental health," says Dr. Warren. "It's important to allow ourselves enough time to get the sleep we need."
If persistent insomnia or daytime sleepiness suggests you might have a sleep disorder, National Sleep Awareness Week, March 5–11, is a good time to talk with your doctor about it.
For more information, visit www.edward.org/sleepcenter. And, join Dr. Warren for "Get Back to Sleep," a class on Thursday, April 26, 7–8:30 p.m. in the Education Center Auditorium on the campus of Edward Hospital, 801 S. Washington St. in Naperville. Dr. Warren will discuss the causes and symptoms of insomnia and current treatments. To register, call (630) 527-6363 or register online.