Los Angeles, CA | NBC 4 Interview | Dr. Avi Ishaaya Centers

Narcolepsy interview with Dr. Bruce Hensel


Chuck: If you have trouble sleeping, you are certainly not alone. America has some 50 million insomniacs; so what really is the best solution? There are so many new products out there in the market, how do you choose and what are the benefits and the risks? Our own Dr. Bruce Hensel is here now with the answers and advice, Bruce.

Dr. Bruce Hensel: Chuck as you say there are many different choices, over the counter and prescription. We're going to cover the four most popular and as you said, you need to know the benefits and downsides and you need to know about a test that could save your life.

Brennan: I used to think that I was really depressed and have a lot of anxiety and have all these issues.

Dr. Bruce Hensel: Brennans real issue was lack of sleep. Like millions of Americans he spent many sleepless nights until he felt he couldn't take it anymore. So he turned to the first most common choice, over the counter remedies.

Brennan: I've taken it all, tried everything and nothing really worked.

Dr. Bruce Hensel: And because most over the counter remedies contain antihistamines, they may stay in the body for a long time and may cause a problem the next day.

Dr. Avi Ishaaya: It causes a lot of the lingering hangover feeling or the daytime sleepiness.

Dr. Avi Ishaaya: Hey Brennan, how are you today?

Dr. Bruce Hensel: So Brennan reached out to Dr. Aviishaaya who treats all sorts of sleep disorders. The first step: Rule out any physical problems, blood tests and a physical exam, then a special test for a serious sleep problem.

Dr. Bruce Hensel: If you think you sleep well at night, but you're tired during the day all the time, you might have something called sleep apnea which needs to be checked out in a sleep lab like this. It doesn't look like a sleep lab, but it is. It has everything you need: Bed and technical.

Dr. Bruce Hensel: These tests make sure the person doesn't stop breathing at night and Brennan did not have sleep apnea, so Aviishaaya's next step...

Dr. Avi Ishaaya: Then we talk about prescription sleeping aids.

Dr. Bruce Hensel: Brennan's second option, the most common sleeping medicine, Ambien.

Brennan: I did notice an improvement in just how I felt during the day.

Dr. Bruce Hensel: But there are also potential risks for some people.

Dr. Avi Ishaaya: Patients who experienced sleepwalking as a result of taking the pill.

Dr. Bruce Hensel: If Brennan didn't like Ambien, his third choice might've been the newest sleep medicine, Lunesta. Some experts say it works faster than Ambien, within minutes and it gets out of the body faster and it may be taken every night when necessary with one potential downside...

Dr. Avi Ishaaya: There's a really bad taste in the morning.

Dr. Bruce Hensel: If that bothers you, there's a fourth option.

Dr. Avi Ishaaya: Sonata because it's the shortest acting of all the sleeping aids.

Dr. Bruce Hensel: That means it leaves the body quickly so some people feel less groggy the next day, but while the latest options provide many benefits, even if they are non-addictive, they are not a permanent solution.

Dr. Avi Ishaaya: The idea behind sleeping pills is to avoid using them on a nightly basis.

Dr. Bruce Hensel: So Brennan used the Ambien to get his body used to sleep, then slowly got off the medicine and he's finally spending more time sleeping than stressing.

Brennan: Oh, I feel better. Emotionally, I have more energy. More positive about most everything.

Dr. Bruce Hensel: That happens with most people who cure their insomnia. Let's talk about sleep apnea for a minute. If you're tired during the day, but think you slept well, you should get checked for sleep apnea. Treatment could really save your life and it's a simple test. Now of course avoiding late night food, caffeine and alcohol helps along with a cool bedroom used only for sleep. I've talked to Aviishaaya and he pointed out that many people take Ativan or Valium for sleep. Those are anti-anxiety medicines, they may work but they stay in the body for a long time. Bottom line: See an expert, consider all the options and you should be able to sleep well. Chuck, back to you.

Chuck: Thank you Dr. Bruce.