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24 hours in Lawrence

Sleepless subjects

May 22, 2007

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Sharon Cobbinah and Jeff Asbury, technicians at Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Sleep Center, monitor the sleep patterns of three patients who can be seen on the TV screens above.

Sharon Cobbinah and Jeff Asbury, technicians at Lawrence Memorial Hospital's Sleep Center, monitor the sleep patterns of three patients who can be seen on the TV screens above.

While most of Lawrence is sound asleep, Sharon Cobbinah is wide awake, albeit sipping on a can of caffeinated Pepsi.

Cobbinah, 32, of Kansas City, Mo., is a technician for somniTech that contracts with the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Sleep Center on Clinton Parkway.

Cobbinah and Jeff Asbury, 26, of Kansas City, Kan., are monitoring three patients. It takes about 45 minutes to hook up each subject to monitors that track sleep stages, airflow, respiration, snoring and oxygen saturation. They also are tracking "events," or times when a patient stops breathing for a moment because of sleep apnea.

"Most of the time you are extremely tired," she says of people with sleep problems. "We see a lot of truck drivers, shift workers and the elderly."

Cobbinah works three 15-hour days each week, which is not exactly conducive to, in her case, a good day's sleep. "If I get four to six hours sleep, I'm fine," says the mother of an 8-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl. She admits her husband says she snores. "But he does, too," she adds.

How can people improve their sleep?

"No clocks near the bed, no radio or TV, no computer, just no distractions," Cobbinah says. "And keep the food downstairs."

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