While most of the Brazos Valley is sleeping, David Elizondo is wide-awake.
"It's been a big nightmare,” claims Elizondo. “It's been going on for the last seven or eight years."
Elizondo says it is hard to recall the last time he got a good night's sleep.
"Really bad headaches, waking up in the morning and feeling just tired throughout the day and not feeling functional."
After running on empty he finally found himself checking in to the Sleep Clinic at the College Station Medical Center. After undergoing a sleep study, doctors were able to pinpoint the culprit.
"David has what we call non-restorative sleep, which means he can sleep through the night, even till noon, he will wake up feeling un-refreshed,” explains Dr. HarryKissoon. “It’s almost as if he got run over by a bus.”
But Elizondo is not the only one living this nightmare--more and more doctors are finding sleep disorders in children. In fact, Dr. HarryKissoon says “Sleep disorders in childhood is about as prevalent as asthma in childhood."
Fourteen-year-old Beth Akin suffers from Sleep apnea.
"By far the most common sleep disorder is obstructive sleep apnea where the upper airway closes off and narrows as we sleep causing a fall or reduction in the oxygen levels in the blood stream when you sleep at night."
Causing symptoms that are commonly misdiagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD, in addition to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. According to recent studies, over 18-million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, while an estimated 10-million Americans remain undiagnosed. Just in the past year Dr. HarryKisoon says he has treated roughly 600 patients in the Brazos Valley--and that's just one doctor.
Beth’s mother Louise Akin says, "It's scary because you see all of these things going on with your child and you don't know what the cure is."
Since her daughter was an infant, Louise says Beth has been in and out of the hospital for various health reasons. After being misdiagnosed too many times, she became frustrated. But that all changed when Dr. HarryKissoon came into the picture. After a proper diagnosis and proper treatment, Louise says she finally has her daughter back.
"There's hope, there's light at the end of the tunnel."
While sleep apnea is more common, other disorders like Narcolepsy can be fatal.
"If I was going to die it would be in a car crash.”
Pondering death and playing it out in his mind is nothing new to this 21 year-old Texas A&M student.
"I drive around and I keep this guardian angel coin in my car,” says Robert, whose last name will not be revealed.
Robert has narcolepsy—falling asleep at any given moment is something he has known his whole life—But was not diagnosed until recently.
"Narcolepsy because of this is an intrusion of sleep into wakefulness,” says Dr. HarryKissoon.”
"I've always been known to all of my friends to just be able to fall asleep anywhere. But the scariest part is when I'm driving. There were a number of times that I can remember falling asleep at the wheel, one time I woke up as I was driving into oncoming traffic," says Robert. ”I was like whoa! I could have just died.”
“Whether Robert is in the classroom or driving down the road--when the spells do arrive--he says he is out like (snaps) that."
"There are quite a few people who suffer from Narcolepsy in this community who are just undiagnosed," says Dr. HarryKissoon.
Such a growing problem some dentists are now playing a role in identifying the disorders, including Bryan Dentist, Dr. Craig Scasta.
"We see patients every single day and when we do the exams some patients, we find are at risk of what we call sleep obstructive breathing."
"Not seeking help can be deadly, but treatment exists and can be successful and save your life,” says Dr. HarryKissoon.
Although each patient varies in age, all are victim's who have once shared the same craving--the insatiable need for sleep.
Beyond leaving people drowsy, bleary-eyed, clutching a cup of coffee--failing to get enough sleep heightens the risk for a variety of major illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
For more information on sleep disorders you can contact Dr. HarryKisoon and Dr. Craig Scasta at the numbers below.
Dr. Raj HarryKisoon
Sleep Lab, College Station Medical Center
1604 Rock Prairie Road
College Station, TX 77845
Dr. Craig Scasta, DDS
1615 Barak Lane
Bryan, TX 77802-3315
In addition to the contact information above, you can find links to the Sleep Lab in College Station, as well as other useful links for sleeping disorders.