Sleep and Anxiety?
The Sleeping Child
Now, this week’s episode was called The Sleeping Child, and we talked with paediatric respiratory and sleep medicine physician and specialist Dr Jim Papadopoulos. I’ve had the privilege of referring patients to Jim for over 10 almost 15 years, and he has always been terrific come in the feedback one gets is fabulous.
I first spoke to Jim on a podcast about eight or nine years ago when I did my initial podcast with Dr Michelle Woolhouse called The Good Doctors healthcare is “unplugged.” It was so interesting to catch up with Jim now, and I came away, I was really looking forward to it, and I was even more impressed after it and I was excited before it because you would just listen to Jim’s approach to this, and you wish that every specialist or medical practitioner that you came into contact with had this kind of, well, this holistic approach. It’s a word that I have used myself professionally for over 40 years now.
It’s always associated with some sort of new age, philosophy or something like that. As though we’re putting crystals on people’s bodies and healing like that – no. It just happens to be a reference to the fact that that’s how the body is put together holistically, and that is how the planet is put together holistically.
While we have spent a great deal of the last few hundred years dividing up medicine in the human body into compartments and symptoms, at the end of the day, the person that’s sitting, listening to this and that includes me we are a whole person and that includes every patient that sits before a health practitioner.
It’s so easy with health practitioners, particularly when they have, if they have, limited time and the average medical consultation with medical practitioners, something like 10 to 15 minutes and people’s health is a complex story. If your experience with practitioners has been like that, then you are in a symptom-based practise. You go in with inflammation and your doctor will give you an anti-inflammatory. You go in, maybe feeling depressed and you get an antidepressant and so on.
Addressing causes and getting good outcomes is something that we all should be striving for. And I think that episode with Jim Papadopoulos highlights, for example, the connection of gut health with sleep quality. The fact that with children and he’s a paediatrician, as basic training, but then specialised in respiratory and sleep medicine.
But with 30-40% of children have undiagnosed sleep-disordered breathing conditions, and he goes into what some of the signs of that are. It could be that the child is snoring. It could be that they are just breathing heavily, could be that they have their mouth open while they’re asleep and what are some of the symptoms?
Well, when adults don’t sleep well, they tend to be listless and lacking in energy. But when kids don’t sleep well, the reaction is often the opposite. They get hyperactive, and it’s sobering to know that attention deficit disorder, ADHD or ADDD attention and hyperactivity disorder, anyway, that disorder affects well, I know the official figure group together is 6-7%.
Well, you know, there is a difference between males and females, and males tend to be much higher. And they may even get up to one in 10, which is an extraordinarily high figure as well. It’s sobering to know that almost 50% of people diagnosed with ADHD have an undiagnosed sleep-disordered breathing condition.
That gets even higher when we talked about neurological developmental issues can be as high as 60% undiagnosed sleep-disordered breathing. Of course, we touched on in this episode the children that have been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. So that those figures are up around 80%.
It was a really interesting discussion, we talked about bedwetting, we talked about night tremors, restless legs. We talked about night terrors. We talked about sleepwalking. We talked as I said about bedwetting. People often don’t associate bedwetting with sleep-disordered breathing conditions, but it often is. And even when things are looking OK in the upper airway, gut issues and solid reflux can also be implicated. This was a really far-reaching podcast and one that I would thoroughly recommend you listen to. He is a wonderful practitioner and of course, we have links to that.
The Biggest Health Challenge Question
I also interestingly, love to ask my guests, you may have noticed, regular listeners may have noticed that at the end of a podcast, I like to get a more personal view of a person’s response to the question. You know, “Take a step back from your role as a health practitioner. Can you tell me, you know, we’re all on a healthy journey through life in this modern world, what do you think an individual’s greatest challenge is in that journey?” Look, I’m not going to give it away. Jim identified anxiety as being a major cause of problems, and I’ll let Jim explain that for himself.
I think it is such an interesting point to make in this day and age, and I think this is ties into how the pandemic has been managed over the last two years. Actually, the influence of social media on our lives and media. I hesitate to refer to outlets now as news outlets. I’ve come to realise throughout this pandemic that they are not news outlets, they are media outlets.
I remember when my book first came out and the publisher engaged the PR agency for the first six months, and I ended up writing several articles for newspapers and magazines, and a member of my family was a senior executive at an electronics company in managing the PR department.
I asked her, “When you look at the newspaper, how much of the newspaper are actually PR exercises articles masquerading as news?” She estimated that something like 70% of them was, and that was about five or six years ago. She said the first 10 or 15 pages of a newspaper are about 70% PR masquerading as news. I think that figure has gone up even more now.
Anxiety coming back to that. One of the things we are going to be exploring this year is trauma, depression, anxiety and the influence of media and social media and the impact that’s having on all of our lives. Because at the end of the day, when we look at our lives, you know, some of the statistics are good and some of the statistics aren’t.
We’ve been a world more or less at peace. There have been out our breaks of war in Afghanistan and in Iran and Syria. These have been terrible instances. If you had a look back at the podcast I did on Trust the Science??? Just before Christmas.
One of the while I shared with you, one of I believe, the most important speeches that have been given in the last, well, I would even say in the last century, and it was given by President Dwight Eisenhower on the day that he stepped off as president at the inauguration. Well, he was leaving the presidency in early January 1961.
Now this guy, Dwight Eisenhower, was the leader of the armed forces in the Second World War in Europe, he was a Four-Star General and he was the Republican President for eight years. And so he was not what you would refer to as a left-leaning liberal peacenik or whatever. His warning to the world, then, was that the thing we had to fear most was the unwanted, the unwanted influence, the unsolicited influence of the industrial-military complex.
That was a very sobering thing for a man of his background to say. I think if you look at the way things have unfolded, you follow the Vietnam War, you follow what has gone on in neoliberalism, and allow markets to dictate how things are. We are a market-driven economy. And then along comes media and digital media and social media.
A market-driven economy means that social media is driven by the selling of ads and what sells ads is engagement and what engages people is bad news what does bad news do? It causes anxiety. This brings me back to what Jim Papadopoulos identified as the biggest challenge for those of us, all of us on a healthy journey through this modern world.
The question is, how much do you want to engage with that digital technology? And that’s why we had psychologists Jocelyn Brewer and Nir Eyal who talked about his books Hooked and Indistractable. I think the key here is, I think the two take away lessons from all of this podcast, and I’ll just give you my update at this point, having spoken to so many wonderful people and trying to tie this all together in my own head and having this wonderful opportunity to share it with you, is turn off notifications.
If you are the sort of person that has got an email, news services, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, you know there are others out there as well. You haven’t got time in your life for anything other than being on your phone the whole time.
If this pandemic has taught us one thing, certainly taught me this, personal engagement with people, face to face, looking at them, sharing space with them, looking at their faces, looking at their body language, listening to their tone of voice, giving them a handshake, giving them a hug, smiling, laughing, frowning. All of those personal things have literally made us great as a species.
Our ability to communicate and cooperate is one of the things that has stood us in very good stead as a species. In fact, arguably it has given us the edge over every other species on this planet. So when that is taken away from us, by isolating us, by locking us down, by creating fear, by bombarding us with bad information, which keeps us engaged and keeps us clicking, and makes us feel fatalistic and then gives us simple ways to buy this with one click and pay this over for payments, or just put it on your credit card.
We go down this rabbit hole and there are many rabbit holes we could go down in this online world. Then we create a state of anxiety and fear, which is what many people are currently experiencing.
We’re going to be exploring this theme over the coming months and years. We have been, as I’ve been talking about, preparing an online programme and ultimately that online programme is about creating a supportive community of like-minded people and practitioners who can take control of their own health and be the best they can be.
Because at the end of the day, I think the message that I’ve taken away from all of my reading over the many years is that my health is just too important to leave to anybody else. I have to take control of it myself. I am eternally grateful for the incredible system we do have. I acknowledge that I’ve been the beneficiary of that, and I’m talking about the incredible Western health model that is there for crisis therapy.
How do we define a crisis? That might be the subject of a whole other podcast we do. But how we define a crisis is really the key to how we run a health system. Is it a system that is built on just managing chronic disease? As I’ve said many times, a great economic model that benefits the chemical food, pharmaceutical, media, and social media industries.
Now, I’ve lumped them all together as one. This is part of, I guess you could call it, a great reset. I know it’s been written about and that’s something we’ll explore as well, but it’s a great economic model for those industries. It just doesn’t happen to be a very good health model for the 99.9% of us who aren’t financially benefiting from that experience.
That’s what we’re about at the Holistic Health Institute and on this podcast and all the things we do from here. I hope you’ll join us. I hope this finds you well until next time.
This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.