Monday, September 28, 2009

Sleep Apnea and Alzheimer's

We all know that sleep apnea can do many damaging things to our health. It can put us at risk for heart disease and all the serious troubles that come with that. It can also affect our mental state especially concerning our memory. So it is not surprising that there is a connection between sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that kills off brain cells and gets worse as time goes by. At this time there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s. However there is quite a bit of research being done to slow down the progression of the disease and even prevent the disease. Loss of memory is one of the first signs in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. For more information on this terrible disease go to the National Site of the Alzheimer’s Association.

There are some that suggest that sleep apnea patients are at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. A compelling argument is made for this case by Dr. Steven Park, an authority on sleep issues.

In a recent study it was found that Alzheimer’s patients were able to find relief from sleep apnea by using the cpap machine. The study was done by Janet Cooke at the University of California at San Diego.

This is just another reason to try and find some relief from sleep apnea.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Sleep apnea and bad weather

This past week the weather here in the Atlanta area has been horrendous. In the part of the metro Atlanta area that I live in had over 20 inches of rain in the past 7 days. Luckily we were spared any flooding damage. But the weather did make my meniere’s disease and my sleep apnea worse.

Sleeping with sleep apnea is always difficult but for some reason it is particularly hard when the weather is bad. I had to do a little research to find out why. It seems that the atmospheric pressure has some effect on OSA patients. Whereas altitude changes have more effects on central apnea patients. My source for this information is Although they found a connection between sleep apnea and weather changes they are not exactly sure why it occurs.

I think a lot of my problems this week were due to the sound of thunder and the amount of stress I had worrying about the house being flooded. But everything seems to be okay now; of course I still have the sleep apnea.

I still intent to go through with another sleep study sometime this fall. My mouth is almost healed from having a wisdom tooth extracted, so I will probably set up an appointment pretty soon.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two common tests to determine your quality of sleep

There are two common tests to determine your quality of sleep. One is the Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS) and the other is the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).

The Epworth sleepiness scale was developed by Dr. Murray Johns at the Epworth Hospital in Australia. The scale is basically a group of questions that determine how sleepy you are during the day doing certain activities. Your score is tallied and from that your doctor will have a pretty good assessment of how tired you are. The scale is used a lot with sleep apnea patients.

Dr. Johns Website is

The Pittsburgh Sleep quality Index was developed at University of Pittsburgh’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. It was developed because there seemed to be a connection between sleep disorders and psychiatric patients. It is a test that is composed of 19 questions. Like the ESS the answers will help your doctors to determine how bad your sleep disorder is and they can determine if you need a sleep study.

For more information about the Pittsburgh Sleep quality Index click on the following website

With my sleep apnea I have taken the ESS test before but not the PSQI test. Both are considered reliable.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sleep apnea and alcohol

I have never been a big drinker, even when I was in my twenties, I never drank that much. Right now I don’t drink for two reasons: it doesn’t mix well with my medications for meniere’s disease and alcohol is especially bad for those with sleep apnea.

Why is alcohol so bad for sleep apnea?

Like certain medications, alcohol relaxes muscles in the body. If those muscles happen to be in the back of your mouth and you have sleep apnea, you have trouble. The muscles relax and block the airway. Well the airway is blocked anyway so why not drink? Well, if you eliminated alcohol the airway might not be as blocked or not blocked at all. Stopping drinking it seems to me would be better than trying to get used to a cpap machine or a dental device.

Alcohol is also bad for sleeping for other reasons, such as messing with your normal sleep patterns. It is true that a few drinks before you go to bed make it easier to fall asleep. But it will inhibit your ability to fall back asleep if you wake in the middle of the night. And as with alcoholics, the more you drink the harder it is fall asleep because the alcohol isn’t as effective as a sedative as it is with a causal drinker.

So if you have sleep apnea it probably isn’t a good idea to drink at all, at least not before you go to bed.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What is sleep debt?

This shouldn’t be a difficult question to answer especially for someone who has sleep apnea. After days, weeks and years of losing sleep due to sleep apnea your body has been seriously shorted of sleep.

But what are the consequences of this sleep debt?

First of all, an explanation of sleep debt is in order. There are two types of sleep debt:

1. Partial sleep deprivation, which is when someone sleeps too little for days or even weeks.
2. Total sleep deprivation is when there is a total lack of sleep for the same period of time.

So you lose sleep every night just like most of us with sleep apnea do, can you make it up later? That would be quite a few hours of sleep to make up especially if you have had sleep apnea for years. It would seem impossible to catch up if your sleep debt is what amounts to months of sleep deprivation.

If you get your sleep disorder, like sleep apnea, cured the best possible way to make up for sleep debt is to try to sleep a little longer each night and gradually you will regain most if not all of the sleep you lost.

In my case I couldn’t even guess how much sleep debt I have. My sleep apnea has been keeping me up for many years. Hopefully my next round on the cpap machine will be successful and I can start working off that sleep debt.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

What if the cpap machine turns off?

When I first started to use the cpap machine a though came to my mind. What if the cpap machine turns off in the middle of the night due to a power shortage would I continue to breath?
Of course it never happened because I didn’t use the cpap machine when there was a storm, but what if I didn’t know about a storm coming?

You can buy backup batteries for your machines. I didn’t realize it at the time but it makes perfect sense especially if you get to the point where you are used to the machine and rely on it to get a good night’s sleep. If you have a cpap machine it would seem like a good investment.

As far as the cpap machine breaking down in the middle of the night I don’t think that there is much chance of that because they are pretty sophisticated and probably tested many times. But a problem that I did have was the hose getting loose in the middle of the night. I toss and turn quite a bit and I’m sure that is the reason that the hose didn’t stay attached to the machine. I realized it came off immediately because of the roaring sound it made. That was another reason that I didn’t stay with the cpap that long.

But I am going to give it another try and hopefully I can get past some of these obstacles.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sleep apnea and sleep paralysis

Did you ever wake up and couldn’t move? Unfortunately this type of temporary paralysis does occur. Even though it only lasts for a short it can be very frightening. This type of condition is called sleep paralysis.

While in the REM stage of sleep the body is naturally paralyzed so no injury occurs. This is a concern because during the REM stage the brain is very active and without the paralysis the sleeper may try to “act” out their dreams which may include hitting, kicking or jumping out of bed. With sleep paralysis the sleeper wakes before the REM stage is over but the paralysis isn’t.

Why this occurs is generally unknown but there is some suggestion that sleep apnea may have a connection with parasomnia conditions which is what sleep paralysis is.

This condition is also referred to as “Hag phenomena” because at one time sleep paralysis was considered to the work of the supernatural. You couldn’t move because a witch was riding on your chest.

I haven’t ever had this condition but I have heard of people who have and it can be very frightening. Sleep paralysis isn’t harmful other than scaring you to death but you should check it out with a doctor in case it is related to another health or sleep disorder.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Sleep apnea and insurance

Sleep apnea is a serious disorder when left untreated which can lead to harmful health problems and even death. The treatment of sleep apnea like other illnesses is not cheap. Not only are there office visits to pay for there is also sleep studies and possibly breathing machines such as the cpap. That is why it is important that you know what your insurance companies pay for and what they don’t.

I have been lucky, my insurance companies have never given me any hassles about sleep studies (I have had 7 of them) and the 2 cpap machines that I tried out. Frankly, I can’t understand why any insurance company wouldn’t pay for sleep apnea treatment considering how dangerous it can be if not treated.

Of course if you looking for private health insurance, the fact that you have sleep apnea would probably be a strike against you and your premiums would be higher. But if that is your last resort you would have to pay for it or pay more when the consequences of sleep apnea occur.

With the different types of sleep apnea surgeries most insurance companies would cover that and if they don’t you can have your doctor contact them. You need to be treated for this; it is nothing to play around with.

One other resource to look into is Sleep apnea trials that are conducted to test medication and new medical devices. Here is a link to to find out about any sleep apnea trials.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Sleep apnea and peripheral edema

Do your legs swell at night while you are sleeping? Do you also suffer from sleep apnea? You might have peripheral edema and it could be connected to sleep apnea.

Peripheral edema is where fluid gathers in the lower limbs. Some of the causes of it are getting older, congestive heart failure, drinking and hypertension among other things. This can be a very serious condition that needs immediate doctor’s care.

A treatment for this ailment is made by treating the underlying causes. If there is swelling due to infections then antibiotics are uses, whereas if the problem is heart disease then diuretics are used. Diuretics are well known among Meniere’s disease patients as a source of removing fluid from the inner ear.

From what I have read there seems to be a connection between sleep apnea and leg edema. In an article in the Pulmonary Review, Doctor Robert Blankfield suggests that it is common to see patients with leg edema also have sleep apnea.

I haven’t ever experienced leg swelling but my father who also had sleep apnea and heart disease did have swelling in his legs. So if you have peripheral edema might sure to check it out with your doctor. You might also have sleep apnea.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sleep Apnea and Night Sweats

Have you ever gotten up in the morning to find that you are soaking wet with sweat. You have experienced night sweats. There could be many reasons why this is happening and there may be a correlation between sleep apnea and night sweats.

Night sweats or Sleep hyperhidrosis can be caused by many things such as:
  • Migraines
  • Illnesses where you have a fever
  • Epilepsy
  • Head injury
  • Due to waking up frequently sleep apnea is a cause of night sweats
  • Menopause
  • Acid reflux

    Here are few tips to keep you cool at night:
  • Keep the room cool with a fan or air conditioning
  • Don’t eat much before you go to bed
  • Forget about caffeine, booze or cigarettes before going to sleep
  • It goes without saying that if you have a fever take your doctor prescribed medication or an aspirin
  • Don’t exercise too close to bedtime ( actually this is a good sleeping tip as well)

    The only time that I have had night sweats is when I have been sick with a fever. My sleep apnea doesn’t cause me to sweat that much but then again I always make sure that the house is very cool at night. I also put a fan directly in front of me so I don’t get warm.

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