medications as caffeine, modafinil, and sympathomimetic medications (direct and indirect acting), including pemoline and methylphenidate (Mitler and O’Malley, 2005). In a randomized clinical trial caffeine and modafinil showed similar benefits for performance and alertness (Wesensten et al., 2002). Modafinil is the only FDA-approved drug for shift work sleep disorder, although it is not approved for sleep loss. Behavioral approaches developed for insomnia also may be useful for sleep loss, but no formal studies have been undertaken expressly for sleep loss. Furthermore, there have been no large-scale clinical trials examining the safety and efficacy of modafinil, or other drugs, in children and adolescents.
Sleep-disordered breathing refers to a spectrum of disorders that feature breathing pauses during sleep. The most common disorder is characterized by obstructive apneas and hypopneas (White, 2005), where repeated episodes of collapse (apneas) or partial collapse of the pharyngeal airway occur, usually a result of obstruction by soft tissue in the rear of the throat. Snoring, which is produced by vibrations of the soft tissues, is a good marker for OSA (Netzer, et al., 2003). Apneas or hypopneas (a reduction without cessation in airflow or effort) typically result in abrupt and intermittent reduction in blood oxygen saturation, which leads to sleep arousal, often accompanied by loud snorts or gasps as breathing resumes. Episodic interruptions of breathing also frequently cause cortical and brainstem arousals, interrupting sleep continuity, reducing sleep time, and causing increased sympathetic nervous system activation. These broad systemic effects on gas exchange and nervous system activation may lead to a range of systemic effects that affect vascular tone, levels of inflammatory mediators, and hormonal changes. As discussed in the following sections, these in turn may contribute to the development of hypertension, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke, glucose intolerance, and diabetes.
The defining symptom of sleep-disordered breathing is excessive daytime sleepiness. The symptom is likely influenced by sleep fragmentation tied to recurrent arousals that occur in response to breathing pauses. Other symptoms of fragmented sleep include decreased concentration and mood changes. The diagnosis of OSA requires detection, by polysomnography, of at least five or more apneas or hypopneas per hour of sleep (Thorpy, 2005). This rate is expressed as an index, the apnea-hypopnea index (or respiratory disturbance index), which is the average hourly number of apneas plus hypopneas.