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Helene A. Emsellem, MD
COVID, Insomnia, Apnea + Other Sleep Disorders
The Center for Sleep & Wake Disorders
. https://www.sleepdoc.com

COVID, Insomnia, Apnea + Other Sleep Disorders


Insomnia is a pervasive sleep disorder during these troubling times. Patients with insomnia are approached with a careful review of their entire history and customized treatment plan is formulated for each patient using cognitive behavioral strategies in conjunction with the judicious use of medications when necessary. Insomnia can manifest as difficulty initiating sleep, multiple unexplained nocturnal awakenings, and early morning awakening with difficulty completing the night asleep. Each type of insomnia has differing underlying causes and we approach each patient’s problem individually.

Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty with episodes of airway closure at night that may be punctuated by snoring, gasps and arousals in many individuals (but silent in some). Diagnosing and managing sleep apnea is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic as there is evidence that treating sleep apnea may help prevent worsening of lung disease associated with the coronavirus.

Patients are encouraged to be proactive, listen to their significant others about concerns about their respiratory pattern at night and seek treatment. Reliable, portable home diagnostic equipment is available that is designed for single use so that a diagnosis of sleep apnea can be safely made even during the pandemic. A multi-disciplinary approach to the management of sleep apnea includes using body positioning techniques when appropriate, the use of dental mandibular advancement appliances, and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices.

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, Narcolepsy and Idiopathic Hypersomnia

Daytime sleepiness is a sleep disorder that impairs our ability to function optimally during the day and enjoy life. There are a myriad of causes and we work together with each patient to explore potential contributing factors, quantify the sleepiness and treat the problem.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

It is extremely frustrating to get to the end of a long day looking forward to going to sleep only to find that your legs (and sometimes arms too) will not settle down. The irresistible urge to move relieves the discomfort only to recur seconds to minutes later making it difficult to fall asleep and sending many patients pacing the halls at night rather than getting much needed restorative sleep. We approach our RLS patients searching for underlying triggering factors including abnormalities of iron metabolism and pregnancy, and treat both behaviorally and with medications.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders

Were you a bit of a night owl prior to the pandemic and find that your sleep wake schedule has drifted out to 2AM to 10AM making it difficult to make it to the 9AM work tele-conference? Without the usual “zeitgebers” or time keepers of our schedule (a mandatory wake-up time and schedule consistency) many of us are increasingly challenged to fall asleep at the appropriate time at night and arise on time in the AM. We approach circadian problems with a full understanding of the variables impacting the time of sleep including light (especially blue light exposure at night) with carefully designed and personalized treatment strategies.

MD (301) 805-6805 | VA (703) 288-3130