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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday — April 9, 2004

Weekend Living

The Sleep Doctor is in

Sleep disorders are source
of many health problems

By Tony Evans
For the Mountain Express

Do you sleep well? The answer to this question may be more complicated than you think.

Dr. Kimberly Vorse, the owner and director of the Sun Valley Pain and Sleep Center, is a specialist in the realm of sleep studies and sleep disorders. She believes undiagnosed problems with sleeping are the hidden source of many health problems, ranging from hypertension and sexual dysfunction to chronic pain and even life-threatening conditions like sleep "apnea."

Dr. Kimberly Vorse Photo by Tony Evans

"Sleep is where we spend one-third of our lives," said Vorse in a recent interview. "It is critical that we restore natural healthy patterns to the architecture of sleep. It is now thought that up to 10 percent of patients visiting a family practitioner could benefit from a sleep study."

Only 50 years ago did scientists discover the phenomenon known as Rapid Eye Movement sleep and its relation to dreaming. In 1970, the world’s first sleep laboratory was established at Stanford University to standardize sleep studies with the use of the electroencephalogram, or EEG, and respiratory and cardiograph monitors to record brain wave patterns and bodily functions through the night. Until that time, sleep and dreaming was terra incognita to science, the stuff of myth and of psychology.

Scientists and doctors like Vorse can now see into the complex, nocturnal activities of body and mind from the perspective of physiology.

"Sleep is an active state with predictable patterns," Vorse said. "Overall health is affected by imbalances in these patterns because every organ in the body supports sleep activities at different stages."

Vorse operates a sleep laboratory in Ketchum, as well as others in Gooding, Arco, and Jerome, in order to study sleep disorders. A sleep study patient is screened and evaluated before arriving around 9 p.m. for a night away from home in the comfortable surroundings of the "lab." In another room, a sleep technician monitors a spectrum of bodily functions, including REM sleep patterns using sensors attached to the scalp. Heart rate and respiratory function are also measured through the night. A thousand pages of data are collected and interpreted from an evening in Vorse’s sleep lab. Results are compared to healthy sleep patterns before arriving at a "sleep plan" that might involve changes in diet, vitamins, exercise patterns, or other treatments.

Sleep studies aren’t cheap and should not be conducted for run-of-the-mill insomnia. However, they can be life saving for those suffering from the dire consequences of sleep apnea, a disorder that disturbs breathing continually through the night. Consistent snoring can be an indicator of sleep apnea.

Are you getting kicked in the night? According to Vorse, 70 to 80 percent of those with "restless leg syndrome" actually have "periodic limb movement disorder," which sleep studies can identify and treat.

Vorse’s sleep studies pay close attention to various levels of sleep states, including REM; a complex period associated with dreaming. According to Vorse, "REM sleep is vital in the consolidation of information in the mind, in creativity and learning, and is a factor in mood and personality. Roughly 20 percent of our sleep as adults is spent in REM. Getting into REM too quickly can suggest depression or narcolepsy. Getting to REM too slowly can result from certain kinds of medication."

An anesthesiologist and pain management specialist by training, Vorse is concerned with the effects of a wide range of medications on sleep patterns.

"Insurance companies and Medicare pay for sleep studies because it is good business. The significance of a sleep study is that it can head off very serious, and expensive conditions down the road."

Currently she is writing a book on the correlation between chronic pain and sleep disorders. For more information or to fill out a questionnaire for sleep disorders, go to Kimvorsemd.com



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