Chill Pill: Is There A Link Between Sleep Disorders and Opioid Use

Chill Pill: Is There A Link Between Sleep Disorders and Opioid Use

Chill Pill: Is There A Link Between Sleep Disorders and Opioid Use

 Sleep Apnea Presentations from Former All-Pro Wide Receiver Roy Green and Top Sleep Expert Dr. Todd Swick, M.D., Senior Physician of Neurology and Sleep Medicine Consultants of Houston Wowed Sleep and Wellness 2014 Conference Attendees


Ogden, UT-May 21, 2014- Sleep talking while walking was the name of the game at the recent Sleep and Wellness 2014: A Conference For Healthcare Professionals, held earlier this month in Scottsdale, AZ.  As celebrities and sleep professionals arrived on The American Sleep and Breathing Academy’s Red Carpet, attendees anxiously awaited the upcoming educational presentations of keynote speakers. Over the three day conference focused on ASBA’s integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to sleep education, experts in the Sleep Science & Medicine field including Stanford’s Dr. Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD., and Dr. William C. Dement, MD, presented a variety of information regarding new findings in narcolepsy and sleep health.  Other keynote speakers of interest included NBC Biggest Loser Nutritionist, Cheryl Forberg, RD, speaking on the science of nutrition in overall wellbeing, and former NFL All-Pro wide receiver, and sleep apnea awareness advocate, Roy Green.

Green, while personally challenged with sleep apnea, expressed his desire to help raise public awareness for sleep apnea education and causes throughout his keynote presentation, in which he described his personal experience; “. . .I’ve had two strokes previously, I had two heart attacks previously, and there is no question in my mind-well along with the pounding in my head, and getting beat up by big guys-that I wasn’t getting any oxygen in my lungs, I wasn’t sleeping, I was tired all of the time, I didn’t have the energy to go out and exercise. . .”

Another presentation of particular interest at the conference was on the impact of consistent Opiod use for pain management on sleep apnea delivered by Dr. Todd Swick, M.D., Senior Physician of Neurology and Sleep Medicine Consultants of Houston and, Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology at The University of TX School of Medicine/Houston.

Dr. Swick later spoke with ASBA to give this quote on the topic:  “The interaction between pain and sleep is enormously significant.  Just as significant is the treatment of pain-that has enormous implications on the quality and quantity of our sleep. Over the past 50 years the amount of very potent pain medications (Opioids) has exploded.  This is in turn has caused a serious alteration in our ability to sleep well, and to enable our bodies to heal from whatever trauma is being treated.  The reason behind this, is that Opioids adversely affect the two most important components of sleep, in particular, that part of sleep that is responsible for body restoration and cognitive restoration.  The net result is that when too many Opioids are prescribed without realizing their negative effects on sleep, the patient is put at a distinct disadvantage.   We have recently realized that the combination of sleep apnea and Opioids represents a particularly dangerous combination.”

According to WebMD, Opioid analgesics, have been cited directly with a range of severe adverse reactions that can impact the severity of sleep apnea such as;  “Lung Failure causing Loss of Breath, A Spasm of the Larynx, Problems with Circulation, Vocal Cord Swelling, Collapsed Portion of Lung, Significant Decrease in Lung Function, Somnolence (sleepiness), Periods of not breathing, Trouble Breathing and Chronic Trouble Sleeping”.  Adding to Dr. Swick’s statement on the topic,  The Mayo-Clinic Diseases and Conditions site page for Central Sleep Apnea states, “Taking certain medications such as Opioids — including morphine sulfate (Ms Contin, Avinza, others), oxycodone (Oxycodone HCL, Oxycontin, others) or codeine sulfate — may cause your breathing to become irregular, to increase and decrease in a regular pattern, or to temporarily stop completely. . .Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles. Central sleep apnea can be caused by a number of conditions that affect the ability of your brainstem-which links your brain to your spinal cord and controls many functions such as heart rate and breathing. . .”

Summarizing the benefit of both conference presentations to sleep disorder education, Sleep Specialist, Dr. Syed I. Nabi stated, “The American Sleep and Breathing Academy is dedicated to educating the public in sleep apnea and sleep disorder awareness and treatment. The link between Opioid use and sleep apnea impact is not something we should take lightly in sleep medicine. If sleep patients are armed with beneficial information about contributing factors in sleep apnea, they will have a better opportunity for safe treatment and overall well-being. It’s wonderful to know that respected figures, such as Mr. Green and Dr. Swick , are contributing their voice and expertise to raise awareness within the public and their respective industries, regarding the causes and safe management of sleep apnea.”

For more information on ASBA’s Sleep and Wellness 2014: A Conference For Healthcare Professionals Program Overview, visit:


About The American Sleep & Breathing Academy:

The American Sleep & Breathing Academy is an educational institution for sleep disorders. The organization serves the community at large and educates medical doctors and other sleep health providers, in the field of sleep science and sleep disorders. In addition to organizing and hosting wellness events such as the 2014 conference, the Academy publishes a quarterly publication, Sleep & Wellness Magazine, which can be ordered through the company website,  Visit for more information.