Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, June 11-14, 2007

SLEEP 2007

Almost 6,000 sleep medicine researchers, physicians, clinicians and sleep technicians from around the world met June 11-14 in Minneapolis, Minn., for SLEEP 2007, the 21st annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. The scientific meeting is a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

"It's been great," said Nancy Collop, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "Sleep medicine is very diverse, so the people attending the meeting come from a broad range of specialties."

Presentations ran the gamut "from soup to nuts," said Collop, who is on the board of directors of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "And as far as things you can attend, there's basic science research, clinical research, clinical talks on a variety of topics, and all sorts of discussion groups."

In the keynote address, Mark Mahowald, M.D., of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis, former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, outlined his theory that all sleep disorders are associated with parasomnias such as sleepwalking or sleep terrors, REM sleep behavior disorder, nocturnal seizures or confusional arousals.

"There's growing evidence that conditions that interfere with consciousness in general are due to a breakdown in integration of whole brain binding," said Mahowald, who is an expert on parasomnias.

"Wake and sleep are due to a disconnection between parts of the brain. There's evidence that breakdowns in the waking brain cause impairments in consciousness. The two really good examples are autism and schizophrenia," Mahowald said. "Wake and sleep and consciousness are all related, and involve varying types of integration."

Mahowald said the fact that thousands showed up for the meeting was a testament to the explosive growth of the field of sleep medicine. "One exciting thing about the meeting is that nearly 6,000 people were there. Last time the meeting was in Minneapolis was 17 years ago, and there were only 500 or 600 people. So there's been extraordinary growth in the field."

Much attention at the meeting focused on new diagnostic strategies and treatments for sleep disorders, from drugs to therapeutic equipment. Other research involved linking memory and neural mechanisms, the epidemiology of sleep duration, dreaming, REM sleep and the effect of various drugs.

"There is a lot of interest in portable monitoring devices for doing sleep studies in the home -- that's a pretty hot topic," Collop noted.

Other research presented at the meeting covered fields ranging from sleep and well-being in the elderly to the sexual content of dreams. For example, study results presented at the meeting linked suicides in the elderly to disrupted sleep.

Rebecca Bernert, of Florida State University in Tallahassee, and colleagues analyzed 10 years of epidemiological data and information on sleep quality and depression in 14,456 elderly people. After comparing data on 21 suicides with data on 20 controls, the researchers reported that poor sleep was significantly linked to suicide.

Other research presented at the meeting focused on sleep disturbances in police officers. Shanta M.W. Rajaratnam, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues reported that more than one-third of police officers involved in a survey had some sort of sleep disorder.

After analyzing survey data on obstructive sleep apnea with or without insomnia, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy with cataplexy, and shift-work disorder in 4,471 police officers, the researchers found that 38.4 percent had a sleep disorder of some type: 35.1 percent had obstructive sleep apnea, 6.8 percent had insomnia, 0.7 percent had restless legs syndrome, 0.5 percent had narcolepsy and 2 percent had shift-work disorder.

Also a study on dreams suggested that many dreams contain sexual content, most often involving sexual intercourse. Based on an analysis of 3,564 daily dream reports recorded by 109 women and 64 men in their 20s and 30s, Antonio Zadra, Ph.D., of the Universite de Montreal in Canada, and colleagues found that 8.2 percent of men's and women's dreams focus on sex.

The researchers found that 41 percent of women and 45 percent of men reported one sexual dream or more. Most often, the focus was sexual intercourse, followed by sexual propositions, kissing and sexual fantasy. Four percent of both men and women's sexual dreams involved masturbation and 4 percent involved orgasm.

SLEEP: Suicide, Disrupted Sleep Linked in Elderly Patients

THURSDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults who report problems sleeping have a higher suicide risk than those who sleep well, researchers reported at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Minneapolis.

Abstract (#0977; Page 363)

SLEEP: Both Men, Women Often Dream About Sex

THURSDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- About 8 percent of both men's and women's dreams contain sexual content, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Minneapolis.

Abstract (#1093; Page 405)

SLEEP: Many Police Officers Experience Problems Sleeping

WEDNESDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- More than one-third of police officers have some sort of sleep disorder, according to a survey reported during the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Minneapolis.

Abstract (#0620; Page 238)

Physician's Briefing