Heavy Eyelids

In my first blog post for the You and The World project, I have completed a lot of research on sleep disorders, specifically in teenagers. I mentioned insomnia, sleep apnea, and other causes of a lack of sleep. I have listed statistics for both disorders, and I have closed out with an original research plan.

Since my first blog post on the topic of sleep disorders, I’ve had a plan for the original research. I’ve researched a lot, and now it’s time go deeper into it.

My first original research plan was to put a survey in an advisory memo (you can take it if you want, it doesn’t matter anymore), or just send it to every freshman if possible. Most of the questions were about normal sleep, and there were some diverse answers from the few people I sent it to.

Screenshot 2018-03-13 at 10.48.24 AM
Screenshot 2018-03-13 at 10.48.24 AM
According to this chart, everyone who took the survey had said that homework and stress are two big causes of a lack of sleep, and I can agree to that.
Screenshot 2018-03-13 at 11.02.09 AM
Screenshot 2018-03-13 at 11.02.09 AM
The little amount of questions that were about insomnia and sleep apnea had their answers displayed through pie charts. According to these, only one person knew one of the facts mentioned (1 in 3 people have insomnia).

Onto my more SUCCESSFUL original research, I’ve interviewed three people in my school who have insomnia (my first choice was someone at Penn Sleep Medicine, but it was more complicated). Two of the people I interviewed are freshmen in the same stream as I am: Ashton Krause and Izzy Curtin. The third one, a senior, is named Malachi Johnson.

Q: How and when did you learn that you had this problem?
Izzy: I forget the age, but I realized I couldn’t really sleep, and asked my parents, and they said I may have insomnia, and so we got checked out.
Ashton: During the summer.
Malachi: This happened during a rough patch. I went to therapy, and they diagnosed me with clinical depression. From there, we learned that I wasn’t sleeping because of distractions like video games, but when I stopped, I still wasn’t sleeping, and it stuck from there.

Q: What support have you sought for your sleep problem?
Izzy:  I take melatonin, which is a hormone that your body makes. If you obtain a little more, than it helps you sleep.
Ashton: Not a lot, but I do occasionally take blood tests.
Malachi: I’ve mentioned therapy, and I also taken medications, which help you sleep, but it’s not the best sleep you could get.

All three interviews ended in this question:

Q: What do you wish other people knew about insomnia?
Izzy: It can harm you, but you shouldn’t be so scared that you make stereotypes about it.
Ashton: It’s a struggle not being able to sleep at night. Who doesn’t like to sleep? Not having the energy from sleep makes everything harder and slower.  
Malachi: It can effect you a lot of different ways, so it’s not something to tamper with. You have to be aware and understanding of someone not being at their full potential simply because they don’t rest themselves.

I also interviewed one person who has sleep apnea (it was harder to find people who had this than people who had insomnia). The person I interviewed defined sleep apnea the same way this article did:

Q: Could you explain what sleep apnea is?

Brent Hershey: Sleep apnea is a condition where a person’s airway becomes blocked during sleep. Breathing stops, then restarts again. It puts extra stress on your heart and you don’t get much restful sleep, so being extra tired during the day is a symptom.”.

Brent Hershey has slept better after he has gotten fitted for a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, which is a mode of respiratory ventilation used for the treatment of sleep apnea.

Q: How does this affect other parts of your life?

Brent Hershey: Since I’ve gotten a CPAP machine, I’ve slept tons better.  It difference during the day, not as tired, more alert. Not quite as sleepy at night. Feel more refreshed in AM.


Q: What do you wish other people knew about Sleep Apnea?

Brent Hershey:  Just that if you have it, getting fitted for a CPAP machine is worth it. It’s a bit of a pain to get used to but results have been great.  

Before I completed these interviews, I had done a lot of research, but I still knew very little about treatment.  I didn’t really know everything that was to having insomnia or sleep apnea. These interviews have given me a deeper insight on everything about those two sleep disorders. Three different people gave me three different treatments for insomnia: melatonin, blood tests, and therapy, and I’m sure if I interviewed a fourth person, they would have said something completely different as well. I honestly didn’t consider what treatment for sleep apnea could be like (partially because I never had it myself), and I’m sure there is more to the treatment than a CPAP machine (But what is it?). My thoughts on sleep disorders before the interviews (compared to my opinion now) seems a little broad, and as if I thought there were only few things someone could do to be cured.

So, what’s my next move? I need a way to publicize this problem so that everyone could see it. I honestly don’t have as much of an idea yet, but I’m considering publishing something in writing. So, does that mean some kind of article? Whatever I think of at this moment, I’m probably going to change my mind later, like I did with my original research survey.

My annotated bibliography is right here.

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