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Tue, Oct. 15

Child's bedwetting, snoring could be caused by sleep apnea

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My 8-year-old is a bed wetter. He snores and a friend of mine tells me I should mention this to our pediatrician. She said the two can be related. Do you agree?

A: Yes - your friend is on top of things. Recent studies have shown that the incidence of bedwetting in children with sleep apnea is 29 percent. That is much higher than the normal rate for children. Even more encouraging is a report that bedwetting was cured in 41 percent of children with treatment of their sleep apnea.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My 78-year-old mother has Alzheimer's and is in a nursing home. She sleeps on and off throughout the day and night. There is no rhyme or reason as to when she falls asleep or is awake. Is this common in Alzheimer's? Is there anything that can be done to help? Most of the time when we come to visit, she is asleep.

A: What you are describing is called irregular sleep/wake disorder. It is fairly common in Alzheimer's sufferers. Their internal circadian clock has become completely disassociated from any semblance of a normal sleep/wake schedule. The best treatment is plenty of bright light exposure during the day along with structured activities. In some studies the addition of small doses of melatonin at night can be helpful.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I am a little overweight and my wife tells me that I snore on occasion. I also have an abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation. I have been shocked on two occasions and went back into the atrial fibrillation on both occasions. My cardiologist is suggesting that I have a sleep study done. Please explain why this is necessary.

A: Your cardiologist is familiar with the high rate of recurrence of atrial fibrillation in people with sleep apnea. Several recent studies have shown that, if untreated, 84 percent of patients with sleep apnea will go back into atrial fibrillation after treatment. If diagnosed and treated, you are much more likely to stay in a normal heart rhythm.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I have severe headaches that usually occur while I am sleeping and wake me up. Doctors have tried all sorts of treatments, but I still get them. My neurologist thinks I should have a sleep study done. What do you think?

A: It's a very good idea. A recent study showed that people with refractory headaches that were associated with sleep had a high incidence of sleep apnea. In fact, 30 percent were found to have it. Treatment of the sleep apnea alleviated the headaches in many of these people. I would recommend you have a study.

Dr. Robert Rosenberg, board-certified sleep medicine specialist, will answer readers' questions by incorporating them in future columns. Contact him through the form at or via mail at the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, 3259 N. Windsong Drive, Prescott Valley, AZ 86314.

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