New York Neurology & Sleep Medicine

Allen Towfigh, MD

Sleep Disorders

Insomnia

Insomnia refers to the inability to get the quantity or quality of sleep that your brain and body needs in order to feel refreshed. Insomnia is the most common sleep related complaint and according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) it affects approximately 30-40% of adults in any given year.

There are many causes of insomnia and it is important to investigate, diagnose and treat this condition. Treating insomnia can improve quality of life, reduce the incidence of accidents and injuries and reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Treatments for insomnia range from implementing simple lifestyle measures and cognitive behavioral techniques to implementing pharmacotherapy with naturopathic remedies or hypnotic agents. Once a thorough evaluation has been completed, our practice can help design a tailored treatment plan to optimize your sleep and improve your daytime performance and quality of life.

Sleep Apnea & Sleep-Disordered Breathing

Sleep-disordered breathing including obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea is a chronic sleep disorder that disrupts your ability to sleep through the night due to shallow breathing or pauses in breathing which in turn interrupts your sleep and diminishes your sleep quality, which in some cases can lead to daytime symptoms of fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Many people with sleep-disordered breathing are unaware that they have it because symptoms only occur during sleep. Often times, it is a family member or bed partner that identifies the problem.

Sleep-disordered breathing has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke and therefore should be identified and treated by a sleep expert.

Our practice works in tandem with Weill Cornell Medical Center to identify and treat patients with sleep-disordered breathing and also help identify and treat associated cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risk factors to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome was first described over 50 years ago and is now recognized as being one of the most common sleep related complaints, affecting as many as fifteen million adults in the U.S.

Restless leg syndrome is characterized by an uncomfortable, throbbing, crawling, pulling or other unpleasant sensation in the legs which often remits with movement such as shaking of the legs or walking.

Symptoms often occur in the evening or while at rest and restless leg syndrome can disrupt sleep quality and cause daytime fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness which in turn can lead to difficulty concentrating and reduced daytime productivity.

Restless leg syndrome can also make traveling uncomfortable due to the often long stretches of time spent seated in tight quarters.

While the cause of restless leg syndrome is often unknown, it is believed to involve the movement centers within the brain including the basal ganglia and related structures. Up to 90% of individuals with restless leg syndrome also suffer from involuntary jerking movements of their legs during sleep, known as periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS). Laboratory studies and neuroimaging as well as sleep studies can help identify treatable causes or triggers of restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movements of sleep.

Treatment is available for people suffering from restless leg syndrome, therefore identifying treatable causes and initiating appropriate therapy can help improve or abate symptoms, restoring sleep quality and improving daytime function and quality of life.

Narcolepsy

Since it was first described in 1880, great strides have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of narcolepsy. This disorder causes significant distress to those afflicted with it due to its often debilitating symptoms including excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep attacks and involuntary loss of muscle tone, known as cataplexy, as well as intermittent paralysis and hallucinations.

Advances in the field of sleep medicine including nocturnal polysomnography (NPSG), multiple sleep latency testing (MSLT) and recently identified biomarkers and genetic studies now allow us to diagnose and treat this debilitating disease effectively, improving the quality of life and safety of individuals suffering from narcolepsy.

Jet Lag

Jet-lag describes the misalignment of our body's internal circadian clock with our external environment. Symptoms of jet lag include insomnia, hypersomnia, poor concentration and loss of focus, difficulty with memory as well as a host of gastrointestinal issues including diarrhea and constipation.

Top athletes and business travelers face the challenges of this modern day disorder frequently, but with the right planning and strategy many of the symptoms of jet lag can be treated or avoided to ensure optimal performance and enjoyment when you travel. Our practice can discuss your travel plans and priorities and create a plan that addresses your individual goals and needs.