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It might not be the first thing you associate with pulmonology, but the study of the lungs actually has quite a bit to do with the study of sleep. Dr. Seema Khosla didn’t really make this association either until she slowly began learning about the importance of sleep and the critical role it plays in our health. “It was something that I never really thought about when I was a resident,” she recalls, mentioning a time when she thought going days without sleep and pushing through it was more like wearing a badge of honor than engaging in a dangerous and detrimental way of living.

She now serves as the medical director of the North Dakota Center for Sleep, where she sees patients who are suffering from a variety of sleep conditions ranging from insomnia, to narcolepsy, to sleep apnea, to REM sleep behavior disorder—a disorder that causes people to act out their dreams. She discusses pulmonary-related sleep issues, including poorly-controlled asthma, emphysema, and other chronic medical conditions that can cause insomnia and fragmented sleep.

She provides a glimpse into the fascinating world of sleep studies, where real-time changes in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood are correlated with real-time brain wave changes, indicating disruption from certain sleep stages. Dr. Khosla also touches more broadly on how people’s attitude toward sleep seems to be changing for the better, effective options for the treatment of sleep apnea that do not involve CPAP machines, and why so many people are initially resistant to the idea of seeking help from sleep doctors. Lastly, she discusses her takeaway from a recent conversation she had with a Fitbit representative regarding plans to further implement sleep tracking technology in their products.

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