Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Falls Asleep on Air

 

The other day, Fox correspondent and commentator Tucker Carlson was caught sleeping while taping the show Fox & Friends.  When he awoke he appeared not to be aware that he had been on air during his nap.  Take a look:

I understand that there were media references to narcolepsy (a sleep disorder associated with nocturnal sleep disruption, daytime sleep attacks, and other symptoms) pertaining to Carlson’s on-air snooze, and that he afterwards stated that he had found his nap refreshing.  However, if you listen to the above video carefully, you will hear him suggest that sleep deprivation may have been to blame:  “I sat in for Sean Hannity last night. It went late and all of a sudden I was sitting there and I was just having these happy thoughts and just dozed off.”

Alas, falling asleep on-air is a phenomenon not new to Fox News.  Just for fun, I present to you yet another incident, this time from the Fox affiliate in Austin, Texas:

This sort of thing shows up in the media from time to time:  someone in a televised program dozing on-air.  It also makes sense for morning reporters and anchors particularly to be prone to this problem, because they typically have to awaken so early to go to work.  Everybody’s having a great time with this latest episode with Carlson, too, as you can imagine:  “Tuckered Carlson!” “Fox Snooze!”  Though these incidents are kind of funny to watch, they also are an opportunity for people like me–who work in the realm of sleep medicine–to make some important points about daytime sleepiness.  Here goes:

1.  Daytime sleepiness is much more commonly caused by plain ol’ sleep deprivation than by narcolepsy.  Most adults require around 7.5-8 hours of sleep per night to feel fully rested, and in our American culture many of us do not make time for this much sleep, at least consistently.  How many people do you know that regularly get 7.5-8 hours of sleep each night?  Sleep deprivation may well be the single most common cause of daytime sleepiness in the U.S.  Narcolepsy, though not necessarily a rare disorder, is much less common than sleep deprivation.

2.  A tendency to fall asleep by accident during the day is not equal to or the same as having narcolepsy.  Narcolepsy is a central nervous system disease, of which daytime sleepiness is a cardinal symptom; however, it is a very complex sleep disorder that we in sleep medicine continue to strive to understand through research.  Many other things can cause daytime sleepiness:  sleep deprivation; irregular sleep schedules; insomnia; untreated sleep apnea; the list goes on and on.

3.  If you really DO have narcolepsy, a brief (15-20 minute) nap usually IS refreshing.  This is one of many potentially distinguishing clinical features of narcolepsy; a brief nap in the setting of sleep deprivation alone may or may not be refreshing, and can often cause the napper to feel worse, not better, upon awakening, because only a small amount of the “sleep debt” was “paid back” during that nap.  For my narcoleptic patients, I in fact typically recommend scheduled naps as part of their management regimen.  But just because you find your naps refreshing doesn’t necessarily mean you have narcolepsy either.

Have a great Labor Day, everyone!

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It’s Not About the Nail!

In this video, a woman describes some difficulties she’s had recently:  a multitude of strange, bothersome symptoms, including problems sleeping.  Take a look.

I thank my great friend and former partner in crime, David B., for bringing this piece to my attention.  It’s absolutely hilarious, but this video short does illustrate a couple important and serious reminders for me, however.

First, for each of us, there may be times in which the underlying cause of a problem can be right under your nose (or in this case, nailed to your forehead) for ages before it’s realized.  I saw a woman in my clinic this morning, for example, for her insomnia.  She’s awakened at 3 a.m. every morning because her cat sits on her face.  She told me she then gets up to put the cat into the garage.  I asked her how often she does this.  Her answer:  “every night.”  Sooo . . . why not put the cat in the garage at the beginning of the night before bedtime?  My point is that we’re creatures of habit, and we’re used to what we’re used to.  Whether we’re talking about sleep hygiene or a nail protruding from your head, what you’re used to is your “normal.”

Second, though we docs are trained and conditioned to move quickly to act and save our patients from their medical problems, sometimes what is asked of us is to just listen.  Given the changes happening in health care at the moment, I fear that the doctor’s ability to spend the time to listen to our patients will become as extinct as the dinosaurs.  Many feel that it already is.  I hope that someday there will again be a place for more humanity in the administration of health care.

Have a great evening, everyone, and remember, “it’s not about the nail!”

Fall-Asleep News Blooper; Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Hoping everyone had a great weekend!  It was an absolutely gorgeous one out here in the Pacific Northwest!

Nothing profound or heavy for you tonight, I’m afraid.  It’s Cinco de Mayo, you know, so tonight should be about celebration, not science!  In that spirit, then, please enjoy this Twin Cities’ KARE 11 news blooper, in which an early morning anchor, Eric Perkins, appears to have awakened, uh, perhaps a little too early one morning.  I love his attempt at an on-air recovery upon realizing that he had just dozed off in front of the camera!

This serves as a gentle reminder to get proper amounts of sleep and, particularly if you work during hours other than the traditional 9-to-5, keep your sleep schedules as regular as you can between workdays and non-workdays.  Otherwise you may end up falling asleep by accident when you really shouldn’t be.

Cheers and have a great evening!

My Name is Maracujá!: My Interview With Eduardo Mendonça, Part 2

As those in my musical circles are aware, I have a Brazilian name.  I am Maracujá.

Maracujá is the Portuguese name of a passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) native to many South American countries, including Brazil.  It is often used in desserts and drinks (including the caipirinha, a famous Brazilian beverage, as well as bottled fruit drinks, such as depicted in the photo below).  In addition, it is known as a mild sedative, and it is an active ingredient in numerous sleep aids in Brazil.

I love the name.  It means a lot to me.  There is affection and friendship imbued in it, and as you can see it is also relevant to my career and my work.

Maracujá was bestowed upon me by my friend, Eduardo Mendonça, leader of the Seattle-based band Show Brazil!.  During an outdoor festival performance last year, Eduardo introduced me to the audience as Maracujá for the first time.  He also told the crowd that this was to be a christening:  he summoned everybody to shout out the name after him.  Three times a crowd of hundreds of people roared my new name.  All I could do was bow in gratitude and humility.  It was a wonderful experience, and I have Eduardo to thank forever for that brief but profound life moment.  Eduardo has introduced me to our audiences with this name ever since.

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During a recent chat over coffee I asked Eduardo to recount how he came up with this title that is now mine.

MC: As you know, you are the one who christened me with this name, Maracujá, which I hold sacred, personally, and which I appreciate very much. I was hoping you could talk about how you arrived at the name, and what it means historically and culturally in Brazil.

EM: Sure. To baptize you with this name was very much an honor for me, because giving a Brazilian name to someone requires a very strong connection, a connection with what you do and what kind of person you are. To best represent you, I came up with the Maracujá name because of the work that you do, helping people with sleep disorders and making life better, right? That’s very important, you thinking of the well-being of someone. How I could connect that, your work and yourself as a person helping others with a Brazilian meaning that could represent you very well? Maracujá is used in Brazil as a natural medicine to relax people. Some people put in a lot of sugar, even though sugar doesn’t go well with relaxing.  But if you put in the right dose of sugar, it would be fine, and would really create a natural relaxing time and relaxing moment, to help you with sleep, to help you calm down, and that’s how I came up with the name for you. It was not difficult at all to connect it to what you are, what you do, with something in Brazil that is a function that can make things good for somebody.

MC: There’s clearly a deep connection between relaxation and sleep. Is it known in the Brazilian culture that the passion fruit or its derivatives can help a person sleep? Does it really have a sedative property, actually make you drowsy?

EM: Yes.  Of course it depends on the quantity that you have. Definitely I remember my parents, when I was a kid, preparing the passion fruit, the maracujá juice to make a very energetic kid calm down. It helped me sleep. If you give it a few hours before you go to bed, and of course if you don’t have anything else in your body to cut that effect, it definitely helps you relax and sleep.

MC: Again, I’m honored to have the name, and I wear it proudly.  Thank you, Eduardo.

Show Brazil! plays all year ’round, and the summer season promises to be great this year!  Obrigado, Eduardo!

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Snoring in a Song: My Interview With Eduardo Mendonça

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I play alto saxophone and percussion for Show Brazil! here in Seattle.  Originally from Salvador in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, the band’s leader, Eduardo Mendonça, is an internationally renowned and award-winning recording and touring artist, accomplished songwriter, teacher, community leader and benefactor to the Puget Sound area Brazilian community.  His music is played and appreciated worldwide.  He has played for the Dalai Lama, Pope John Paul II, and Nelson Mandela, as well as audiences all around the world.  I’m honored that Eduardo christened me with my Brazilian name, Maracujá, about which I will write in an upcoming entry.

One of Eduardo’s many great songs is “Vingança,” a live version of which is shown here (from a Carnaval gig we played in 2011).

“Vingança” features both Portuguese and English lyrics.  Here are the English lyrics, which served the basis for a casual over-coffee discussion I recently had with Eduardo pertaining to sleep and snoring.

She left me just because I snore
It is so bad, I sing when I dream
To me it is nothing, it is nothing to me
Boy, I am crazy, please come back to me
Always back, come back to me
Baby, it is hard, come back to me
Yeah, I made my revenge
I scratched up all her pans
She got that stuff from my mother-in-law
Yeah, it was really nice
I broke her porcelain
It is my revenge because she’s gone away
I am so bad

So, here is my interview with my friend Eduardo, who I asked to provide the song’s backstory.

EM: The wife’s left this guy and he’s really mad. He reacts with non-violence. He wouldn’t hit this woman or anything, but he’s mad, and he starts to destroy the things that she likes, like the porcelain given by her mother-in-law, and he feels really compelled to do this. It’s funny; it’s humor. It’s nothing like asking anyone to be violent to solve the problem. I didn’t compose the Portuguese and English together.

MC: So you wrote the Portuguese portion first and later you added the English?

EM: Right, many years later. After I moved to the United States, I was willing to have Americans understand a little bit more about what I was saying.  I was reflecting about how snoring and sleeping problems really can damage any marriage, right? Any relationship. Snoring is in my family. My mother always complained a lot about how much my father was snoring and sometimes talking in the night, and they stayed married for many years until she passed away. She was a hero to keep living with this problem. They slept in the same room and everything, but she complained, I remember she complained. Later I found out I snore as well, though not all the time.

MC: Your wife complains about your snoring?

EM: When I’m really tired, she starts to complain about the snoring, and she reports it to me, like my mother complained, and I saw that it can cause a problem in the relationship. You sleep when you sleep. You don’t have a clue that you’re interfering with somebody else’s sleep!

MC: It’s no fault of your own, but it’s causing distress to your spouse.

EM: That’s where “Vingança” came from.  From my family’s experience, from my experience, and just to alert people: who has the problem? When I wrote this song, “to me it’s nothing, it’s nothing to me.” Of course not, right? Because you don’t know that you’re causing somebody else’s problem. And that’s the humorous part: when you say it’s not a problem, but it is a problem for somebody else. That’s what’s the music is about: just to make people aware that it’s something that needs to be reviewed, something that needs to be treated and talked about, because it does interfere in any kind of relationship.

MC: So he acknowledges that he is doing something that his wife is not liking, and that is a component in what eventually ends up being a dysfunctional relationship that gets worse and worse.

EM: Yes. She left because of that, right?

MC: But did she really leave only because of the snoring?

EM: Only because of the snoring! [we both laugh]

MC: Now, I will tell you that I have had patients that have gotten divorced in large part because of the snoring.

EM: I can believe that.

MC: And it’s not really because of the loudness and the obnoxiousness of the snoring, but because the person doing the snoring didn’t believe it, or didn’t do anything about it. It’s like, “I don’t care that you’re bothered by it; I don’t care.” So I’ve actually had patients that have been in that situation, when they refuse to do anything about it, knowing that it’s bothering the spouse, and then they get divorced. That’s happened!

EM: Yep, that’s my song.

MC: So what that song is then is basically a communication to people that you shouldn’t be ignoring those things, problems that you may not necessarily help, but don’t ignore it, or else your spouse isn’t going to be happy. And it’s humorous on one hand, but on the other hand, it’s deadly serious.

EM: Yes, it’s serious. The song treats a serious problem in a light way, because sometimes we can address some problem–and can make people reflect–not in a drastic way, but with humor. It’s a way to reflect on some cause, that the action that makes that cause can be changed, can be treated, and can be rethought.

MC: You can do something about it.

EM: Right. And this guy didn’t do anything about it.

MC: And he paid a price, because she left.

Obrigado to my old friend Eduardo for bringing some awareness to sleep problems such as snoring!  His music may be found on Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify; Show Brazil! is constantly touring, throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.  I highly encourage you to explore Eduardo Mendonça’s wonderful songs.

April Fool’s Day Wake-Up Pranks

Happy April Fool’s Day, everyone!

 

Nothing serious to write about today, really.  Instead, in honor of this very special day, I present to you some videos of people being punked awake.

Before you click on the videos below, however, please read and heed the following disclaimers:

1.  You must have a reasonable sense of humor to watch these.  If you don’t, please do not click on them.

2.  I do not condone these pranks, and I definitely do not recommend that you try any of these or similar pranks at home.

3.  A couple of these clips feature some harsh language.  Consider yourself warned.  Do not click on these videos if you’re sensitive to such things.

With all that said, let us begin, shall we?

Firecrackers can be very effective alarm clocks. (There are a couple of bad words here)

Here’s another example of the utility of firecrackers:

Air horns are also excellent awakening tools.

Sometimes an air horn wake-up prank can go terribly wrong, however–particularly if your victim happens to be a judo master.  Witness if you dare:

Not interested in getting clocked while executing your practical joke?  Well, if you don’t have access to an air horn, a machine gun allows you to awaken your loved one from a safe distance.

How about awakening to find an unfamiliar face in your bed?  (There’s a naughty word or two here)

Here’s a great one involving an “oncoming truck:”

Finally, here is my all-time favorite video wake-up prank, also from a moving vehicle.  The victim’s facial expression is priceless.

Be careful where you sleep tonight.  Cheers!

Insomnia . . . For Wichita State and Gonzaga

I am and always will be a Kansas Jayhawk.  But my first awareness of college basketball was thanks to Wichita State University, the very school whose team just advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of this year’s NCAA men’s national college basketball tournament by trouncing top-seeded and top-ranked Gonzaga last night.

Wichita State was an integral part of my childhood.  My dad was a professor there for decades, teaching criminology, editing the journal he founded, The International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, and solidifying his legacy in the field of administration of justice.  I also took math, literature, and computer science classes there in the summer while I was in high school.  And, importantly, WSU’s infamous basketball coach, Gene Smithson, lived three doors down from us.  Growing up, we looked up to him and the young men he coached–particularly Antoine Carr and Xavier McDaniel, who subsequently became nationally recognized professional basketball players.  Smithson popularized (and perhaps even invented) the term “MTXE”–“mental toughness, extra effort.”  I live by this phrase every day.

 

So I have to say I was very pleased with WSU’s win over the Bulldogs last night.  As a Kansas native now living in Washington state, I empathize with both teams and their fans.  Nobody with ties to either school slept very well last night.

Here’s the Wichita State Shocker in bed.  You just watched your team pull down the heretofore #1 ranked college basketball team in the country.  Only now that you’re in bed are you processing what this huge upset means for you and your fellow Wu-Shocks.  It’s pure rapture.  You’re in the Sweet Sixteen in a year of absolute mayhem in men’s college basketball.  There’s no clear, inarguable favorite to take the title like there was last year.  It’s anybody’s tournament; any team can win it all.  This year it might, just might, be the Shockers!  Your head is buzzing from all this emotion and mental racket.  You imagine the improbable run to the championship game, a buzzer-beating final shot that clinches the title, the ticker-tape parade down Douglas Street.  How are you gonna sleep with all that adrenalin running through your brain?

Here’s the Gonzaga Bulldog in bed.  You’ve become tired of the pundits and analysts saying that Gonzaga became #1 by default.  You’ve just heard Dick Vitale on ESPN predicting loudly that “the Shockers are gonna shock the nation.”  Sure, your school is in the West Coast Conference, but you’ve had some wins against quality non-conference teams this season, and going into the Big Dance you know the Bulldogs now have the chance to prove the nay-sayers wrong.  And then . . . crushing, unmitigated defeat–in the third round.  It’s like someone ran over your dog and then sped off.  You feel helpless and in despair, left with the bitter reality of the loss.  You go to bed truly in mourning, knowing the mourning will only continue upon awakening the next day.  How can you hope to sleep tonight, knowing that any temporary rest will bring only minimal reprieve and solace?

Man, I’ve gone to bed both ways every late March and early April for years.  I know exactly how it feels.  And the fact is that all of us have, basketball fan or not, for one reason or another, throughout our lives.  Why?  Because we’re human.  We have emotions, hopes, dreams.  We put ourselves at risk emotionally by daring to hope in the face of adversity or unfavorable statistics.  When the risk pays off, the elation is something you will savor for the rest of your life.  But when you lose, well, that’s also something you remember forever.

It is part of the human condition for these emotional peaks and troughs to affect your sleep.  As such, everybody is susceptible to at least some occasional transient insomnia.  Usually the insomnia burns off as its trigger fades into the background of your life.  However, in some cases the sleeping problem can persist as dysregulation of bedtime schedules and mounting frustration over the insomnia set in and worsen.  It’s at this point that people start to schedule appointments to see guys like me.

Bottom line here:  anything you think about that is of emotional importance–whether good or bad–can cause at least transient insomnia.  Just ask Shocker and Bulldog fans.

I’m hoping that I won’t be going to bed tonight like the Zags did last night.  KU is playing Roy Williams and his Tarheels.  MTXE, baby, and Rock Chalk Jayhawk!