Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sleep diary and sleep apnea

If you have ever kept a diary or a journal of your life it can be rather illuminating. It can open your eyes up to certain patterns in life and how you deal with them. Although it would be another daily task that you have to keep up with, the rewards can be great. So if you can start keeping track of your daily life why not track how much sleep you get. Not only how much sleep but also how rested you were the next day. Now if you have sleep apnea you would think that your diary would be repetitive but that isn’t necessarily so. It is true that your sleep apnea would affect you every night. But there may be nights that are better than others.


Tips for keeping a sleep diary:

  • Buy a notebook and only use it for sleep diary and not a miscellaneous note pad. 
  • Be consistent and write every day. This can be difficult but it will be worthwhile in the long run. 
  • Write down anything that happened during the day that might have affected your sleep. 
  • Be truthful 
  • Be descriptive. Don’t just say ‘sleep was bad’ that really doesn’t tell anything. 
  • Ask your partner about how you slept. Was your snoring worse than usual? Did you toss and turn all night? 


Since a New Year is starting this is the perfect time to start a sleep diary. Give it a try!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nocturnal asthma and sleep apnea

Breathing or lack of it at night is a common sign of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea, which has only become recognized as a sleep disorder the last few decades, is caused by blockage in the back of the throat, by loose tissues in the throat or enlarged tonsils and tongue. A rarer version of sleep apnea called central sleep apnea is caused by signals sent to the brain. While sleep apnea is becoming more prevalent you need to check with your doctor to make sure it isn’t something else besides OSA. One possible condition could be nocturnal asthma.

What is nocturnal asthma?
According to nocturnal asthma is “when asthma symptoms arise during the night. About 75% of people with asthma have symptoms that disrupt both the length and depth of their nighttime sleep at least once a week – a condition called nocturnal asthma.”

Nocturnal asthma can be caused by such things as a narrow airway which can trigger night time coughing. Allergens may also have an effect on nocturnal asthma. GERD can an influence on this as well.

Nocturnal asthma and sleep apnea are similar in many ways and often folks with one disorder also have the other. In fact nocturnal asthma can be confused with sleep apnea because of sleep interruption and the effect of lower oxygen. Since using the CPAP machine is the most popular way to cure sleep apnea it has also been shown that it will help with the nocturnal asthma as well.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sleep apnea and brain trauma

As most people know sleep apnea and its effect isn't limited to just the lack of sleep. Severe consequences like heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure problems and depression are among the many disorders that could accompany sleep apnea. There is also an indication that sleep apnea and other sleep disorders are common with folks with brain trauma.

What are the effects of brain trauma?

According to Wikipedia brain trauma or traumatic brain injury TBI “can cause a host of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effects, and outcome can range from complete recovery to permanent disability or death.”

Does treating the sleep apnea help the brain trauma?

There was a study done by Richard J. Castriotta, M.D., director of the division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston to try to "Determine whether treatment of sleep disorders identified in brain injured adults would result in resolution of those sleep disorders and improvement of symptoms and daytime function." 60 percent of the participants didn't have sleep disorders while the rest did. The sleep apnea sufferers were treated with the CPAP machine for 3 months. The study conclusion was that after the treatment daytime sleepiness wasn't resolved even though the sleep disorder was apparently resolved. In other words it seems that if you have brain trauma and sleep apnea you’re your sleep interruption will be improved but you will still be sleepy during the day.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sleep apnea plus

There are many sleep disorders that one can suffer from such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, bruxism, snoring and circadian rhythm disorders but the most well known one is insomnia which can be broken down into many separate disorders. Insomnia isn’t just the inability to fall asleep it is the lack of quality of sleep that you get. Unfortunately, sleep apnea patients are often burdened with insomnia as well. This condition is known as sleep apnea plus.

When I first read this I wondered how one could go about fixing this problem. If you have sleep apnea then you are probably going to try a cpap or even have surgery. But if you also have insomnia and that isn’t recognized while you are trying to resolve the sleep apnea then they might feel that the cpap or the surgery wasn’t effective. I know that using a cpap mask takes time and effort to get used to, but what if the insomnia is the problem and not the cpap mask. It seems that would lead to a good bit of frustration and confusion.

One of the most effective ways to solve insomnia is changing your sleep behavior or by having cognitive behavioral therapy. I suppose if you have sleep apnea plus then it would probably be a balancing act as to what sleep disorder to fix first. It is definitely something that should be discussed with your sleep doctor.

For more information on sleep apnea plus go to the following website

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Melatonin and sleep apnea

Information is constantly being sent throught out our bodies. In our brains there is something called serotonin that is a neurotransmitter which is a nerve signaling chemical that is sent to the brain to regulate our mood, it is one of many chemicals that provide some kind of information to the brain. While we are sleeping the chemical melatonin works in conjunction with our Circadian Rhythm that controls when we sleep and when we are awake. It is also used by some as a sleep aid. So is there any connection between sleep apnea and melatonin?

How is melatonin produced?

According to Wikipedia “melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, a gland about the size of a pea, located in the center of the brain but outside the blood-brain barrier. The melatonin signal forms part of the system that regulates the sleep-wake cycle by chemically causing drowsiness and lowering the body temperature.”

The pineal gland is only active at night and that is when melatonin is produced and at its highest level. Besides the time of day, direct light will also lower your melatonin level.

So when I read this I wondered if you produce less melatonin if you have sleep apnea. I didn’t see anything that would back up that claim. Although I did see that the levels of melatonin decreases as we age. As for taking melatonin as a natural supplement or a sleep aid, I would definitely speak to a doctor before taking especially if you have sleep apnea. There are other uses for melatonon such jet lag,

If you do a search on the web you will see quite a few places selling it but check first with your doctor before using it.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lap band surgery and sleep apnea

When you think about surgery for sleep apnea you generally think about UPPP, Maxillomandibular advancement and somnoplasty among others. Some are more evasive than others and the recovery period also varies. What they all have in common is the opening up of the airway in the back of throat, which is the cause of obstructive sleep apnea. There is another surgery that might indirectly help cure your sleep apnea. The lap band surgery helps reduce your weight which is usually a problem with most sleep apnea sufferers.

What is lap band surgery?

According to Wikipedia “a lap band is an inflatable silicone device that is placed around the top portion of the stomach, via laparoscopic surgery, in order to treat obesity. Adjustable gastric band surgery is an example of bariatric surgery designed for obese patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater—or between 35–40 in cases of patients with certain co morbidities that are known to improve with weight loss, such as sleep apnea, diabetes, osteoarthritis, GERD, Hypertension (high blood pressure), or metabolic syndrome, among others. “

What is interesting about lap band surgery is that an FDA is now considering lowering the BMI for potential surgery candidates.

One thing to remember is that being overweight is the reason that folks have sleep apnea. A narrow throat, an enlarged tongue and the shape of the face also causes sleep apnea.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sleep apnea and not being exhausted during the day

If you have obstructive sleep apnea then there are some things that are a certainty, such as grunting and waking up suddenly many, many times each night. The airway in the back of the throat is blocked by loose skin or an enlarged tongue causing your brain to send up a red flag to your system so you can wake up. Blockage can also be due to the shape of your face. Another certainty is that sleep apnea is bad, very bad, for your health, with heart problems being the biggest problem. You might also think that being exhausted all day is something that comes with the territory, but in reality it isn’t.

That is not to say that after a night of waking up hundreds of times you will feel like a million bucks the next day, but you may not be as tired as you think. In my own circumstance I’m not completely exhausted all day and the reason that is because I have gotten used to over the years.

But don’t be lulled into complacency, even if you aren’t extremely tired the next day, sleep apnea can still do damage to your heart and play havoc with other parts of your mind and body. Personally, the problem that I find most disturbing is the memory loss that comes with sleep apnea and the depletion of energy that prevents you doing physical activities that you might want to try.

So even if you can function with sleep apnea it is still best to seek corrective treatments.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What to look for in a CPAP

When I was first diagnosed with sleep apnea after my initial sleep study my Doctor at the time told me what my options were, surgery or wearing a cpap mask at night. I had done a little research before the visit so what he told me wasn’t a surprise. I also knew that the odds weren’t that good that surgery would fix the problem. As for the cpap I had a friend that just started to use one and he was having all kinds of problems getting adjusted to it. But I went ahead and started using the cpap anyway. If you have read any of my posts in the past you know that I tried cpap and bpap and neither one helped me much. But that was a long time ago and there has been a lot of changes to the design and comfort levels of the cpap, especially the mask. If you are going to use a cpap try find one prevents the problems that are usually associated with them.

Things to consider when buying a cpap

The most important thing to remember is that the mask has to be comfortable enough for you to wear it all night. One of the biggest problems that I had was air leakage in the side of the mask. So make sure that the mask is tight enough to prevent leakage but not too tight to be uncomfortable. Keep in mind that it will be strange at first to even wear a mask but preventing air leakage will definitely help.

The first cpap machine that I got didn’t have a humidifier and that was a big mistake! I would wake up in the morning and my throat would either be sore or irritated. A humidifier will keep the air moist going through the tube and will help you avoid having a dried throat in the morning.

Getting the setting right on the pressure of the air coming through the cpap hose will make sure that you are receiving the most benefit out of the machine. If you don’t think that the titration is correct check with your doctor.

If you have a beard you might want to shave it off because this sometimes prevents a tight fit on your face.

If you are worrying about paying a lot for cpap, especially if you don’t have insurance look into buying a used cpap, (You will still need a prescription!)

The most important thing to remember is try and make it work. It may take some time but it should be worth it.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Resistant hypertension and sleep apnea

It is well known that sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure. And that high blood pressure can of course cause heart problems including heart attacks. Doctors will usually prescribe blood pressure medicine for those with high blood pressure whether they are sleep apnea sufferers or not. What is interesting to note is that the blood pressure isn’t always controlled by just medication; this is also referred to as resistant hypertension. According to an article on the web a good deal of folks with resistant hypertension also has sleep apnea.

What can you do about resistant hypertension?

According to“Because resistant hypertension is usually the result of some underlying issue, treatment focuses on correcting this underlying issue. If a hormone imbalance is the cause of the resistant hypertension, then treatment efforts are focused on correcting the patient’s hormone profile.”

Dr. Henry Black a Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, states that 70% to 80% of resistant hypertension patients have obstructive apnea. Doctor Black also states that the cpap machine will only help lower the blood pressure if it is used for a long time. Doctor Black also says that more research is needed to find ways to lower blood pressure for those with sleep apnea.

I have high blood pressure and sleep apnea; luckily my BP can be controlled by diuretics and blood pressure medicine. As for the cpap mask I never could get used to it.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are dental devices as effective as CPAPs?

If you have sleep apnea then you probably searched out every possible remedy imaginable. From mouth exercises to playing the didgeridoo to more traditional cures such as surgery and the CPAP machine. It is a lot to consider because some things work for some folks and others don’t. Surgery, at least some surgery, can take a long time to recover from and may only have a small chance at working. The usual fix for sleep apnea is the CPAP machine, which also has issues for many sleep apnea sufferers, such as not being able to get used to the mask and the air blowing down your airway. Another option would be dental devices, but from what I have read in the past their success has only been minimal. A new study is suggesting that may not be true.

According to a press release from the website “CPAP can no longer be considered the "Gold Standard" of treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea. There is a rapidly changing dynamic in the field of sleep medicine. It should be noted that CPAP and Oral Appliances are equal with "careful titration". It remains to be seen if home sleep studies can meet the "careful titration" standard.”

Unfortunately in my own case my sleep apnea is severe so it probably wouldn’t work for me which is bad because I never was able to adjust to the CPAP mask. The last doctor that I saw suggested that surgery might be my only option.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Central Sleep Apnea

When most people think about sleep apnea they think about obstructive sleep apnea where the airway in the back of the throat is blocked causing the sleep apnea sufferer to gasp for air many times per hour while they are sleeping. This is by far the most common form of sleep apnea. The other sleep apnea is central sleep apnea which has nothing to do with a blocked airway in the back of the throat but it can be as dangerous as obstructive sleep apnea.

What causes central sleep apnea?

Central sleep apnea is where the brain sends signals that cease breathing. According the WebMD “Central sleep apnea is often associated with other conditions. One form of central sleep apnea, however, has no known cause and is not associated with any other disease. In addition, central sleep apnea can occur with obstructive sleep apnea, or it can occur alone.”

Possible illnesses or conditions

  • ALS 
  • Parkinson’s disease 
  • Alzheimer’s 
  • Stroke 
  • Injury to the brain stem 
  • Encephalitis

A lot of the symptoms that obstructive sleep apnea sufferers have central sleep apnea have also. Such as being tired during the day, poor memory, mood problems and going to the bathroom at night.


If you feel that you have central sleep apnea check with your doctor, they might want to set up a sleep study for you. Like OSA a cpap machine could be the cure for you.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cleaning the CPAP Mask and machine

A few weeks ago I wrote about how folks with allergies can have a problem with the CPAP mask. One of the ways to deal with this is cleaning your CPAP mask and machine regularly. I received a very informative comment on how to do this.

Here is the comment…

Anonymous said...

I've been a CPAP user, actually APAP which is much better, for about 4 years now and I wish I had it when I was a child as I probably wouldn't have fallen asleep in class so frequently or had been so lethargic and apathetic.

You're right about having to keep the equipment clean but cleaning is simple and takes maybe 15 minutes a week. A quick search can provide numerous cleaning techniques, none much better than pre-washing the equipment, humidifier, hose and mask with non-lotion based soap and then disinfecting the equipment with a 5 minute soaking in a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. Let the parts air dry and then wash your hands before re-assembly.

The side effects of not cleaning the equipment vary in the individual with common complaints of minor sinus issues, headaches, sore throat, fatigue, light headedness, basically all the things you'd expect from a non-working CPAP machine and the return of apnea.

Great information!

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Is drinking bad for your sleep apnea?

There is a long list of things that you shouldn’t do if you have sleep apnea. Taking sleeping pills is right up there at the top of the list. They relax the muscles in the back of the throat causing even more airway blockage. Pain medication can also be a problem if your doctor doesn’t know that you have sleep apnea, which is another good reason for having a sleep study. And of course one of the worst vices for sleep apnea patients is alcohol. The same reason that sleeping pills are bad for sleep apnea patients applies to alcohol and OSA. But now a new study has come out that question whether drinking is all that bad for those with sleep apnea.

According to a study by the University of Missouri there doesn’t seem to be a connection between drinking and sleep apnea. The study consisted of 1,699 adults who were around the age of fifty. But the study did indicate that those that drink to fall asleep have a chance of hazardous drinking.

Not everyone believes that this study is valid because they had to take the participants at their word as to how much they drank which might result in underreporting on alcohol consumptions.

According to an article on Webmd “"If you ask people how much they drink, they will probably under-report, and if you ask about sleep problems, they will over-report," says Michael Breus, PhD, clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz.

"I find it hard to believe that heavy drinkers are quality sleepers," he says. "They won’t have a hard time falling asleep, but staying asleep is another story."

So this shouldn’t be a green light for those with sleep apnea to drink, especially to drink to fall asleep.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Used CPAPs and sleep apnea

As I have stated in various posts on this blog, I have tried to use the CPAP machine but it didn’t work for me. I tried it not only once but twice and both times were failures. There are many reasons such as, the noise, the air leaks, the strangeness of wearing a mask at night and probably other things that I just can’t remember. Luckily my health insurance paid for both experiments with the CPAP machines. From what I understand new ones can be rather expensive. I saw the price range from the upper hundreds to thousands of dollars for new ones that would make sense considering that some machines are more sophisticated than others. The masks can be bought separately. I also saw that many places sold used CPAP machines, which surprised me.

It seems like perfect sense to buy a used CPAP machine if you can find one that has the right features for you. Although I have to wonder why the original owner gave up on the machine you wouldn’t want to buy it if it didn’t work right. if you are considering buying a used one make sure that you are buying from a reputable seller. It probably won’t be the last CPAP that you will ever buy because a CPAP machine wouldn’t last forever. I have read of folks that have had them for 14 or 15 years and some that had to buy a new one after a few years.

Keep in mind that you have to have a prescription and a sleep test in order to use a CPAP machine. The sleep test is really important because that is where you will find out what your CPAP setting is.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Diving reflex and sleep apnea

How long can you hold your breath under water? If you haven’t been trained to hold your breath while diving or swimming under water you will probably only last a minute or two before surfacing. Some trained divers can hold their breath for periods up to 9 minutes. So what does this have to do with sleep apnea? The term mammalian diving reflex shows that when you are under water you ability to hold on to oxygen is greater than when you are sleeping.

What is mammalian diving reflex?

According to Wikipedia “The mammalian diving reflex optimizes respiration which allows mammals to stay underwater for a long time. It is exhibited strongly in aquatic mammals, but exists in a weaker version in other mammals, including humans. Diving birds, such as penguins, have a similar diving reflex. Every animal's diving reflex is triggered specifically by cold water contacting the face – water that is warmer than 21 °C (70 °F) does not cause the reflex, and neither does submersion of body parts other than the face. Also, the reflex is always exhibited more dramatically, and thus can grant longer survival, in young individuals.”

Some sleep apnea patients may activate a protective mechanism that preserves and regulates blood flow to the brain and the heart vessels. For more information on this subject go to

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sleep apnea and chronic fatigue syndrome

Being tired is a big issue for sleep apnea sufferers who have yet to find an effective cure for their disorder. Of course it is no wonder when you consider that you wake up hundreds of times each night which eliminates any chance of getting a good night sleep. And you also probably know of the mental anguish that comes with lack of sleep such as irritability and loss of memory even depression. You may also have something that is known as chronic fatigue syndrome.

What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

According the CDC chronic fatigue syndrome is” or CFS, is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity. Persons with CFS most often function at a substantially lower level of activity than they were capable of before the onset of illness.”

What causes it?

The general cause of CFS is unknown but it is believed that the end result of many conditions cause CFS.

What treatments are available?

Treating CFS can be difficult since the cause of it is unknown. Counseling and therapy are sometimes used as well as antidepressants.

What is the connection between CFS and sleep apnea?

Since not getting enough rest is a symptom of CFS sleep apnea would have to be considered a trigger of CFS. If the sleep apnea is cured by cpap or surgical means that would probably help with the CFS.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

CPAP mask allergies

If you have ever used or tried a CPAP mask to relieve your sleep apnea then you know of how challenging it can be. Whether it is the difficulty of wearing a mask in bed or the noise that it creates it takes time to becomed adjusted. Another challenge or possible concern is that the CPAP mask may cause your allergies to get worse.

If you have allergies problems or sinus problems than you may have problems with a CPAP mask. One of the biggest allergies problems is allergic rhinitis, also called hay fever, which is inflammation of the nasal passages. According to Wikipedia allergic rhinitis is “an allergic inflammation of the nasal airways. It occurs when an allergen such as pollen or dust is inhaled by an individual with a sensitized immune system, and triggers antibody production. These antibodies mostly bind to mast cells, which contain histamine. When the mast cells are stimulated by pollen and dust, histamine (and other chemicals) are released. This causes itching, swelling, and mucus production”

Two possible solutions are using a humidifier with your CPAP, which most CPAP machines have now. This will keep the air moist going into your throat and of course cleaning the CPAP mask and machine on a regular basis.

There are nasal sprays and other medications to help with allergies check with your doctor to see what is right for you.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Depression medication and sleep apnea

I have mentioned more than a few times that taking any kind of sedative is usually not a good idea if you are a sleep apnea patient. The sedative relaxes you which is good but it also relaxes the muscles in the throat which makes the sleep apnea worse. But what if you suffer from depression or anxiety and take a medication; does that have any effect on your sleep apnea? Depression meds take a while to kick in and they don’t make you sleepy so it shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Ironically depression and anxiety can cause some sleep disorders, not sleep apnea, so taking anti-depressants would help in that regard if your problem is insomnia or other things that keep you awake at night. There are quite a few anti-depressants on the market such as Prozac, Zoloft, celexa and many others. While they all try to relieve your depression you may have to try a couple before you find the one that works for you. You would have to work closely with your doctor to find the right one.

Do they make you sleepy?

They are not supposed to but I have read that some find Zoloft makes them tired. But then again I have also read that Zoloft can cause insomnia which goes to show that medications produce different results in different people.

As for the connection between sleep apnea and anti-depressants you should talk to your doctor about any possible conflicts.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Losing weight and sleep apnea

One of the things that seem to go hand in hand with sleep apnea is being overweight. It is certainly understandable considering that the blockage in the back of your throat due to excess tissue is probably due to weight gain. Of course not all sleep apnea patients are overweight, as you probably know the shape of your face and an enlarged tongue can also cause sleep apnea. In my case I have all three problems, I am overweight, I have a big face and an enlarged tongue. I can’t do anything about the shape of my face or my enlarged tongue (of course surgery might help but I don’t want to go there). However losing weight is something that I can do about, but I don’t. Why? I have other health issues that limit how much exercise I can do but I don’t have any excuses for eating too much.

Exercise and weight loss which are so important is ignored by plenty of folks. Even with the dire consequences of not living a healthy lifestyle, eating right and exercise are put off and forgotten. The question is why? Lifetime habits of a sedentary life are difficult to break and it is extremely difficult when you aren’t getting the proper rest.

So what should you do? Start slowly and don’t worry if you don’t make progress right away. I little walking is always good just don’t overdo it. The same goes for dieting, or eating right. Don’t starve yourself and try to incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables as much as you can into your diet plan. But the first step has to be to talk to your doctor before dieting and exercise.

Besides becoming healthier your sleep apnea will also benefit from weight loss.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Becoming pregnant and sleep apnea

In march I wrote a post of infertility and sleep apnea. I talked about all the possible difficulties that might occur if your partner has sleep apnea and you are trying to conceive. I was very happy to see from the following 3 comments that I have received that some couples have attributed their pregnancies to relieving their sleep apnea.

Here are the comments…

1st comment
Hi there! I tried for 9 years to have another child. I spent 25,000 too. After being diagnosed in May of this year, given a CPAP, etc....I became pregnant at 39 years of age, 6 weeks later. My husband is postitive that the CPAP is the reason why. In fact, my Dr. at The Ohio State University is thinking about doing a study based on this.

2nd comment...
My DH and I tried for 3.5 years to conceive, including three rounds of artificial insemination and three IVFs. I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and began using a CPAP. Six weeks later, I was pregnant. Our DS is nearly 1!

I don't know if there is a link between my infertility and my sleep apnea, but I believe there is. It stands to reason that if I wasn't getting anywhere near a good night's sleep my body, especially my hormones, would be adversely affected

3rd comment...
My parents were trying to conceive for 2yrs w/ no luck then my dad was diagnosed w/ sleep apnea.After he got his sleep machine for it my mom got pregnant right away. And produced my brotherl

After reading these comments it definitely seems that correcting sleep apnea will help with becoming pregnant.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Poor concentration and sleep apnea

Whether you have sleep apnea or not, poor concentration can be a serious problem. Whether your lack of concentration happens at work or at home or god forbid, driving a car, you definitely need to improve it. It is well known that sleep apnea affects a person’s memory and alertness so it isn’t any wonder that it can lead to poor concentration.

How does sleep apnea cause poor concentration?

One of the main problems with sleep apnea besides making you awake many times through out the night is the lack of oxygen that you receive. That lack of oxygen damages brain tissues which in turn causes memory problems and concentration problems. Fortunately if you resolve your sleep apnea situation your memory and concentration problems with the cpap machine or other devices then your memory and concentration will improve. So there is definitely hope for those with sleep apnea.

Since we now know that children can suffer from sleep apnea it is no wonder that their education will suffer from a lack of sleep. Lapses in memory as well as not being able to concentrate can lead to bad grades and emotional issues. The remedies for children with sleep apnea are similar to those for adults, lose weight and use a cpap machine. As everyone has heard childhood obesity is becoming an ever growing problem in this country and with it comes the various ailments, not only sleep apnea but also diabetes and heart problems. So proper nutrition and regular exercise can certainly help everyone with sleep apnea, not only adults.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sleep Apnea and OCD

There has been a lot written about OCD Obsessive-compulsive disorder over the past few years. It affects many people, including quite a few celebrities. I received an email about an article about OCD and how it affects the famous and successful folks also. It also seems that OCD can have an effect on your sleep, making sleep disorders worse including sleep apnea.

What is OCD?

According to the article OCD is “can affect people at different levels of severity and by manifesting itself through different behaviors or rituals, but it can really interfere with a person's everyday activities, commitments and schedule, relationships, and ability to deal with anxiety and stress.”


Sleep disorders and OCD

Sleep disorders can be caused by a form of OCD called PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. An article in the NY Times Health site states that sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea can develop within a month after a traumatic experience. They also say that sleep apnea sufferers can be at risk of a panic disorder.


What is the treatment for OCD?

  • Medication 
  • Cognitive Behavior therapy 
  • In extreme cases surgery

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Maxillomandibular advancement and sleep apnea

If the CPAP doesn’t help with your sleep apnea and an oral device doesn’t help then surgery might be your only option. When most people think about sleep apnea and surgery they picture a long recover time and only a 50 percent chance of it doing any good. From what I have read from others that sounds about right. But what if you don’t have any options left, and then surgery might be your only hope.

The surgery that most people with sleep apnea dread is the UPPP Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty which removes the soft tissue. One of the main problems with this is surgery is that it doesn’t always correct the sleep apnea. According to Wikipedia the success rate is around 40 percent. To make matters worse there can be several complications due to the surgery such as:

  • Swelling in the throat 
  • Sore throat 
  • Continued sleep apnea 
  • Drainage into the nose


One surgery that does look promising is the Maxillomandibular advancement. As I have written in the past one doctor suggested that I consider this type of surgery because of the failure of the cpap to work for me and because of the fullness of my face.

Maxillomandibular Advancement MMA moves the top jaw and the bottom jaw to open up the airway in the throat. This surgery is also used for people with receding chins. The surgery takes 3 or 4 hours with a few night stay in the hospital. Recovery time at home is around a month. I have read that it is a lot more effective than all the other sleep apnea surgeries.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Causes and Cures of Sleep Apnea

Sleep and the lack of it is a major health concern today. Many sleep disorders are being studied to try to find relief from the perils of sleeping too little Among those sleep disorders sleep apnea is probably most well known of the group. The cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the blockage of the airway in the back of the throat.

Things that contribute to sleep apnea

  • Probably the most talked about cause of sleep apnea is weight gain. In today’s society gaining weight among adults and children is a serious health threat and not only for sleep apnea. Being overweight contributes to heart disease and diabetes not to mention many other illnesses. Losing weight in itself might not cure your sleep apnea it will definitely make it better by reducing the size of the tissue in the back of your throat. 
  • The shape of your face and jaw play a factor in whether you have sleep apnea or not. A narrow throat can block the throat’s airway. 
  • An enlarged tongue can also block the airway. 
  • Nasal problems can contribute to snoring and proper breathing at night. Not something that you would want to have if you already have sleep apnea.


Of course there is also central sleep apnea which deals with the brain rather than the blockage of the airway.


Possible treatments


  • The most popular treatment is the use of the cpap machine. Continuous air is pushed through a hose into your nose or mouth forcing your airway to remain open. Although this is a popular treatment not everyone can get used to wearing a cpap mask at night. 
  • There are various surgeries to reduce the amount of tissue in the back of the throat such as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty surgery. 
  • maxillomandibular advancement is a surgery that moves the jaw forward that in turn opens the airway. 
  • For mild to moderate sleep apnea dental devices can be worn at night to reduce the snoring.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Catathrenia and sleep apnea

Unlike 20 years ago, sleep apnea is a well known disorder. Whether the number of people overweight has contributed to this or not, you hear quite a bit about sleep apnea and its symptoms. Usually it is the person who is sleeping with the sleep apnea patient who first recognizes that there is a problem. The loud snoring, grunting and gasping for air is a sure tell tale sign. If you have sleep apnea then the only way that you know that there is a problem is the restless night that you have. After you gasp for air and wake up you immediately fall back to a light sleep, this pattern goes on all night. But are these symptoms definitively sleep apnea. They might be something else like Catathrenia, also known as nocturnal groaning.

According to Wikipedia Catathrenia is a “rapid eye movement sleep parasomnia consisting of end-inspiratory apnea (breath holding) and expiratory groaning during sleep, is distinct from both somniloquy and obstructive sleep apnea. The sound is produced during exhalation as opposed to snoring which occurs during inhalation.”

What can you do to cure Catathrenia?

First of all Catathrenia is not life threatnening nor is it as serious as sleep apnea, where the problem is during the inhaling of air not the exhaling. Some have suggested that the cpap machine might help with this disorder but not everyone is of that belief.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Support groups for sleep apnea

Do you feel all alone with sleep apnea even though you know that millions of folks are going through the same things that you are every night? You aren’t the only one that feels tired during the day and struggles to sleep at night. So why not seek out other folks that have the same sleeping disorder that you do. Join a support group for sleep apnea.

One of the best things that the internet or the web offers is communication between folks all over the world. Whether it is about financial problems or car problems or health problems you can always find someone who has had the problem before and you probably find a solution to that problem.

With health issues like sleep apnea support groups give information about surgeries, all things cpap (bipap, apap), lifestyle changes and most importantly they give you support, which is something we all need.

Where do you find the support groups?
  • Before social media came along the best place to go to talk about specific issues like sleep apnea would be forums and it is still a great way to learn and communicate with others. 
  • Facebook seems to have their hand in everything now including groups for just about anything including sleep apnea. Just do a search you’ll find many of them. 
  • Twitter is another great place to find sleep apnea folks.



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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sleep Apnea and Prolonged Sitting

It seems obvious that prolonged sitting wouldn’t be good for your health. If you work in an office and sit in front of a pc all day, or whatever job requires you to sit down most of the day then your legs and your body gets very little exercise. Well, it appears that prolonged sitting is also bad for those of us who suffer from sleep apnea.

Health problems associated with prolonged sitting
  • Weight gain, one of the top health issues of this generation, can be caused by sitting too long. Of course being overweight causes a host of other health problems. 
  • Do you get physically tired at the end of the day even though you do your work sitting down? Prolonged sitting isn’t good for blood circulation. With out the proper circulation you could become fatigued. 
  • Sitting too long can also cause havoc on your back. 
  • Heart disease, Diabetes 
  • Fluid that gathers in the legs during the day moves up through the body to the neck may have an effect on blocking the airway in the back of the throat causing sleep apnea.

How to minimize prolonged sitting detrimental effects

The easiest remedy is to take scheduled breaks during the day where you get up and move around, take a little walk, or walk up some stairs. If you do that several times a day it will help with your circulation.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vitamins and sleep apnea

In today’s health conscious society taking vitamins have become a daily routine. While taking vitamins have been around for a long time it is especially essential for an older growing population. Vitamins and supplements are a billion dollar industry. Vitamins also are found to help with sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia. The B vitamins in particular are found useful to promote sleep.

What vitamins are beneficial to sleep disorders?

  • Vitamin B6 – It has been suggested that B6 helps produce serotonin which triggers the hormone melatonin which helps you get to sleep. 
  • Vitamin B5 – helps with stress and anxiety which in turn helps you sleep 
  • Vitamin B1 – This is good for sleep apnea patients who have memory loss 
  • Vitamin C – also helps reduce stress

 There are also supplements and minerals that make sleeping easier. Calcium is one of them. A deficiency of calcium in the body makes us restless. That is why you hear so many people say that drinking a glass of milk, which contains calcium; before bed will help you get to sleep. Magnesium, like calcium, causes sleep problems when there is a deficiency in the body. There are plenty of food that has magnesium in it like wheat bran and cashews.

What is Tryptophan?

Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps to create serotonin in the brain. Like calcium it is found in milk. Another food that has it is turkey, which might explain why everyone is sleepy after the thanksgiving meal.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Over sleeping and sleep apnea

This almost sounds like a contradiction that sleep apnea can cause oversleeping when you get very little actual sleep with OSA. But think about how long you stay in bed (on the weekends or your off days) is that excessive. Over sleeping, or hypersomnia, can also lead to devastating illnesses such as heart attacks, diabetes, obesity and other illnesses.

What is hypersomnia?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes hypersomnia is “is characterized by recurrent episodes of excessive daytime sleepiness or prolonged nighttime sleep. Different from feeling tired due to lack of or interrupted sleep at night, persons with hypersomnia are compelled to nap repeatedly during the day, often at inappropriate times such as at work, during a meal, or in conversation. These daytime naps usually provide no relief from symptoms “

That should sound familiar if you have sleep apnea because no amount of napping will really help.

The causes of hypersomnia are usually depression (if you have depression hypersomnia can make it worse), anxiety, and other sleep disorders like sleep apnea. As far as treatments for this sleep disorder medications can be prescribed. If you think that you may have hypersomnia contact your doctor.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sleep apnea and pillow adjusting

For a few months I have been using a wedge pillow at night. I had read that it would help (some, maybe a little) sleep apnea patients keep their airway open. At first it seemed to help because I don’t think that my airway was blocked as much, of course it could have been wishful thinking on my part. It certainly helped my acid reflux; I can’t remember the last bad attack at night where I woke up feeling nauseated. But now I am not so sure that I am going to continue with the wedge pillow. It might be time to make another pillow adjustment.

I have always used a soft pillow to sleep with usually 2 of them would be comfortable. When I first got the wedge pillow I noticed that it seemed too firm making it a little uncomfortable to sleep on so I put a small pillow on top of it. I tried that for a while but it bent my neck into an uncomfortable position pushing my head so forward that my chin almost rested on my chest. Not only did that strain my neck it wasn’t good for opening up my airway, so I took the pillow off. I though after a few months the wedge pillow would soften up a little but it really hasn’t. It still feels as though my head is lying on a board!

Now what, I am going back to using 2 pillows for a while till I can find an alternative to the wedge pillow or a softer one.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sleep apnea and smoking

The last post I wrote about was whether coffee and sleep apnea can be a good combination. Some think it isn’t a bad idea while others think you should avoid it entirely. But when it comes to sleep apnea and smoking you aren’t going to find anyone that thinks that is a good idea. Of course smoking in any circumstance is a very bad idea.

For the last forty years or so the health industry has continually warned us about the perils of smoking. Lung cancer, heart disease, atherosclerosis and a host of other ailments are caused or made worse by smoking (nicotine). So it should come as no surprise that smoking would be detrimental to those with sleep apnea.

According the, smokers are 3 times greater at risk to have sleep apnea because it increases the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway. If you stop smoking then these risks should go away.

Of course quitting smoking isn’t that easy. If it was then you wouldn’t see all the quite smoking products on the market. Another factor that you have against you if you are trying to quit smoking or lose weight is the lack of energy due to the sleep apnea. It sounds like an excuse but if you are really tired it is sometimes difficult to break your most addictive vices.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sleep apnea and coffee

In a past article I wrote about how caffeine and sleep apnea don’t mix. Coffee and other drinks with caffeine might mask the problem of sleep apnea. But is that really true?

It has been said that coffee can be beneficial lowering diabetes risk and Parkinson’s disease according to an article in And coffee can surprisingly help with headaches. although I don't know if I believe that!  Remember that there are a lot of pain relievers with an abundance of caffeine in them.

In my own case I don’t necessarily like coffee and the caffeine makes me nervous and shaky. I do get a fix of caffeine in the morning from soda which doesn’t have quite as much of it. I know that are those caffeine laden drinks like red bull that seem to be very popular right now. I tried those once and it sent me through the roof. Of course I have considered eliminating caffeine entirely but with the sleep apnea I really need some kind of boost in the morning.

Does it affect my sleep apnea?

I have read opposing views on this. An article in suggests that it masks serious sleep disorders like sleep apnea. I can understand that but it is still difficult to get going in the morning without it. Others say that it doesn’t seem to have any effect on obstructive sleep apnea according to the Mayo Clinic website. The doctor who wrote the article even suggested that it might be helpful.

I’d still be careful about the caffeine even if you do have sleep apnea.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Should you stay in bed if you can’t sleep?

There seems to be many nights where I just lay in bed unable to sleep. I look over at the clock and I start to worry about how I will feel in the morning with such little rest. And the sleep apnea that I have makes things even worse because when I do finally fall asleep the apnea occurrences occur many times even to the point of just waking me up completely. I struggle with the question of whether I should just lay there and try to relax or get up and do something till I get tired.

One of the drawbacks of not sleeping at night or sleeping restlessly is the need to nap during the day. Of course when you do that it makes it harder to go to sleep the falling night. Right now I take a nap during the day and then try to go to bed later. Unfortunately that doesn’t even seem to help. Another thing that hinders your sleep is late night eating. Not only is that bad for your health (you’ll gain weight) it also makes it harder to fall asleep. So try not to eat after a certain period of time.

As for whether to stay in bed, I have read 2 opposing views. One says that you should get up and do something relaxing with the purpose of it causing you to fall asleep. And another opinion is to stay in bed, hide your digital clock so you don’t stare at it all night and listen to soothing music.

I know that I have tried both methods and it seems the one that sometimes works for me is to get up for a little while and then go back to bed. Like I said it works sometimes and other times it doesn’t.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Can infants have sleep apnea?

It makes sense that middle aged folks who have a weight problem can suffer from sleep apnea. As a matter of fact it is quite common among that group. Senior citizens can have it too along with teenagers who are overweight. But what about infants can they have sleep apnea?

It is considered normal for babies to have pauses in their breathing. But sleep apnea can occur with babies’ just adults and older children. The reasons are basically the same, some type of blockage in the back of the throat. Infants snore and that might be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, where there is blockage in the airway causing infant to stop breathing. Enlarged tonsils may also be a factor.

A couple of the common signs of infants having sleep apnea are mouth breathing and restlessness, Along with a change in behavior. Premature babies are also considered at risk for sleep apnea.

This can lead to the serious condition of SIDs Sudden Infant Death syndrome. Respirator monitors are being used on infants that show the risk of SIDS or sleep apnea.

So it is important to remember that sleep apnea can occur at any age including during infancy.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

COPD and sleep apnea

It is well known that sleep apnea patients can also suffer from heart disease because of the blockage of the airway in the back of the throat. The supply of oxygen is constantly interrupted which bad on the heart. Another dangerous disorder called COPD also deals with blockage and it also has a connection to sleep apnea.

What is COPD?

COPD or chronic destructive pulmonary disease makes it difficult to breathe and gets worse over time. Coughing that brings up mucus along with a shortness of breath and chest pains are symptoms of COPD. As you can imagine smoking is one of the major causes of COPD along with environment pollution. Blockage of the airway with mucus and the thickening of the airway walls brings on the symptoms of COPD. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are considered 2 forms of COPD.

It is a major cause of death in the USA and usually occurs in middle age people. For more information on COPD go to National Institute on Health’s website.

How is COPD and sleep apnea connected?

Individuals with COPD also have problems sleeping due to excessive coughing and chest pains among other things. COPD patients also have a high rate of obstructive sleep apnea. The term overlap syndrome describes folks who have both copd and obstructive sleep apnea. For more information on the overlap syndrome go to RTmagazine.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sleep Apnea complications

If you suffer from sleep apnea or know of someone who suffers from sleep apnea then you should realize the potential health fallout from this sleep disorder. The problems range from emotional stress all the way to possible death.

Here is a listing of just some of the complications.

  • As you can expect someone with sleep apnea isn’t going to sleep the whole night through without interruption. Sleep Fragmentation is common in other sleep disorders besides sleep apnea but its effects are probably greatest with OSA.  
  • If you have sleep apnea you can expect a drop in energy and a drop in your sex life. Erectile dysfunction is also common with sleep apnea patients. 
  • Without the deep sleep that helps rest the body and revive the brain, your memory will be adversely affected. 
  • Sleep apnea patients have a higher risk of strokes
  • One of my doctors explained why he thought that depression was common among sleep apnea sufferers. “You would be depressed too if you haven’t sleep for years.” 
  • The lack of oxygen caused by the blockage of the airway in your throat is bad news for your brain which depends on that oxygen. 
  • Last but not least sleep apnea patients have a greater chance of getting a heart attack than anyone.

For these complications and others not mentioned it stands to reason that sleep apnea should be taken seriously.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things you should know about the cpap machine

Everyone that has been diagnosed with sleep apnea has probably tried using a cpap mask. While some find it a life saver others view it as a torture device. It definitely isn’t a natural feeling to wear a mask to bed, especially a mask that pushes air into your mouth or nose. If you are thinking about using a cpap mask here are a few things you might want to know about them.

  • The cpap mask can either be full face or just fit over your nose. If you breathe through your mouth then the full mask is for you.
  • One of the reasons I didn’t like the cpap was the noise that it made. Fortunately this issue has been addressed by many of the companies that manufacture cpap machines.
  • One of the fears that I had when I wore a cpap was what if the power went off.
  • Having a beard with a full face mask can be a problem. It is difficult enough to get the mask to fit without any leaks but having beard makes it much worse.
  • Even if you can’t sleep the whole night with the mask on some rest with the cpap is better than none.
  • Some studies have concluded that using a cpap can restore brain tissue.
  • If you have any problems with claustrophobia then the cpap mask might not be for you.
  • In order to keep the air that is flowing into the mask moist a humidifier is used.
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why is sleep important?

Why is sleep important? The easy answer is because our bodies and our minds need rest. Without it we would be restless, not alert and probably in a less than happy mood during the day. If you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder like insomnia, narcolepsy or restless leg syndrome then you really know how important sleep is. But is there more to sleep than just rest?

What is interesting about sleep is that it isn’t an inactive time for your body and brain. Everything doesn’t just “shut down”. Sleep is broken down into five stages with the REM stage probably the most well known.

Some of the things going on during sleep

1. muscles and tissues are repaired and the body’s cells are being replaced

2. memory is being processed

3. our body conserves energy

4. dreams occur during the REM sleep stage

Sleep apnea and other sleep disorder patients don’t receive the full benefits of sleep. That is why it is so vitally important to cure any problems that may be hindering the amount of sleep that you receive.

If you want to read more about the basics of sleep go to for more information.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sleep apnea and low blood sugar

Many things can happen to your body when you are sleeping such as good things like resting and rejuvenating your mind and body. Of course if you have sleep apnea those things don’t necessarily occur. When you have sleep apnea there are things that happen that are detrimental to your health. Because of the stoppage of breathing the oxygen in your blood becomes quite low. This in turn sends a signal to the brain to wake up. Low oxygen in the blood can result in low blood sugar and eventually diabetes.

What is low blood sugar?

Low blood sugar or Hypoglycemia occurs when your body’s sugar or glucose is released into the blood stream too slowly or it is used up too quickly. The hormone insulin can also have an effect on low blood sugar. It is created by the pancreas when there is too much sugar in the system.

Besides sleep apnea as a cause alcoholism and live disease can also bring it on. This is a very serious health problem that you should be treated for.

If the sleep apnea can be controlled by CPAP, dental devices or surgery you will find an improvement in your blood sugar. Always consult your doctor on how often you need to have your sugar level checked.

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sleep apnea and mental illness

Everyone knows that after a restless night the following day will be challenging. You wouldn’t be as alert as you usually are and your mental capacity will be way off. And of course your less than cheerful mood will probably be noticeable to others around you. If you have sleep apnea than you might be experiencing that every day. Everyone knows about how sleep apnea can cause damage to your heart but it can also bring about mental illness.

I have written before about how sleep apnea can cause depression. If you haven’t slept for years then it isn’t any wonder that you would be depressed. Of course if you are depressed then this could also have a negative effect on your sleeping so it can become a vicious cycle.

Sleep apnea can also affect our ability to remember things and to think in general. Concepts that should be easy to understand might become difficult or impossible to comprehendible with sleep apnea. Constant sleep apnea reduces the size of brain tissue that is associated with thought and memory. Luckily there is evidence that using a cpap might help restore your brain tissue.

Maintaining a good mental health is just another reason to correct your sleep apnea.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Nasal Septoplasty and sleep apnea

The main cause of sleep apnea is the blockage of the airway in the back of the throat. This causes you to stop breathing and sounds the alarm for your brain to wake you up. The solution to sleep apnea would seem to be rather simple just keep the airway open in the back of the throat but there are others factors involved besides loose tissue or an enlarged tongue. Many times the problems of sleep apnea involve the breathing that you do or don’t do through you nose. The procedure Septoplasty can help open up the airway in your nose.

Why do I have problems breathing through my nose?

The bone and cartilage that separates your nasal cavity into two nostrils is called the nasal septum. It is not unusual that the nasal septum is a little crooked. A deviated septum can be caused by an injury or heredity. This condition can be a real problem when it has an effect on your breathing through the nose. Many folks have a deviated septum and unless it is severe it isn’t a real problem.

How do you fix a deviated septum?

The procedure Nasal Septoplasty can straighten the nasal septum. According to Wikipedia “Because the deviation is a result of a cartilage and/or bone surplus, the procedure usually involves an excision of a portion of any of these tissues. Under general or local anesthesia, the surgeon works through the nostrils, making an incision in the lining of the septum to reach the cartilage targeted in the operation. Often an "L" strut of cartilage in the dorsal and caudal areas (1 cm width or more) is preserved for structural support. After excess cartilage and bone have been taken out, the septum may then be stabilized with small plastic tubes, splints, or sutures.”

This surgery can be done on an outpatient basis.

While the surgery doesn’t eliminate sleep apnea it should help you breath better through your nose.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sleep apnea and dry mouth

If you have ever had problems with nasal congestion or allergies then you probably have also had problems with dry mouth. It is very unpleasant to wake in the morning with the feeling that cotton is stuffed in your mouth. If you have sleep apnea then dry mouth is a problem that you regularly have to deal with. In my own case it seems every morning I wake up with a raw throat and a dried mouth.

Not only is dry mouth a problem with sleep apnea but so is sore throats. As I have written before you may still have a sore throat after you are fitted with a cpap machine. Luckily the newer cpaps also have a humidifier that helps the air stay moist so your throat doesn’t dry out. There are other things that you can do to avoid dry mouth. One is to keep your room temperature at a consistent temperature, this will definitely help.

Of course if you don’t sleep with your mouth open then you shouldn’t have this problem but with sleep apnea that is pretty much impossible. The blockage in the back of the throat stops the airway and sends a signal to the brain that you have to wake up. You wake up with a gasp that opens the airway.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sleeping on your stomach and sleep apnea

I slept on my stomach till I was in my late twenties. Up until that time sleep wasn’t really an issue with me and it didn’t seem to matter what position I slept in. Then I had an injury to one of the discs in my back. The back pain was extremely sharp and it seemed worse when I was on my stomach. After I had a nerve block done, the pain in my back left I also found that sleeping on my stomach was uncomfortable. Sleeping on my back seemed the only way that I could get any rest.

Of course that’s pretty much when the sleep apnea started.

As I have written in the past there are some things to consider when sleeping on your stomach…

  • You will find that many folks who have sleep apnea also have acid reflux or GERD. I do. Besides not eating before you go to bed, sleeping with your head propped is also a good idea. 
  • Pick a good pillow if you have sleep apnea. I use a wedge pillow and it seems to help my sleep apnea and my acid reflux. 
  • Consider sleeping on your side. It could help the apnea.  
  • Something that may seem strange is to sleep in a recliner instead of a bed. The idea behind this is your head is really propped up. I don’t know if I sleep in a recliner all night but you might want to give it a try. 
  • Positional therapy might be something that would help your sleep apnea. 
  • Even if you don’t have sleep apnea sleeping on your back is considered the best way to sleep.

Check with your doctor and see what recommendations he can give you as far as what position is best for sleeping.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How’s your health besides the Sleep Apnea?

Let’s say you don’t have sleep apnea right now and you sleep like a baby. Are you on a regular exercise program, either lifting weights or something aerobic like walking or running? Are you eating the right things like lean meat, fish, fruit and vegetables? Or would you merely live the same way that you do now, a sedentary lifestyle without any regard to weight gain? I ask myself this question often and I am not sure why I don’t live a healthier lifestyle.

One of the first doctors that I saw for sleep apnea asked me if I exercised and watched what I ate. She knew the answer but I guess she just wanted to hear how I was going to respond. I told her I didn’t and I didn’t have any excuses. Then she came up with an excuse for me that I was too tired to motivate myself to exercise. I liked that reasoning and that became my general excuse for not exercising and eating right.

It’s not a good excuse.

You know that there are different levels of exercise. If I was training for a marathon or a triathlon the workout would really be intense. But I’m not. This is the important thing about exercise, start slow and gradually increase the amount of time and exertion that you are putting into your workout. Even a little exercise is better than know. I know that the sleep apnea makes you tired but still try to at least walk some every day. The benefits will be tremendous.

The same goes for eating right. Don’t all of a sudden go on a strict diet. Slowly incorporate more fruits and vegetable into your meals. And slowly eat less of the junk food.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sleep apnea and benadryl

As you probably know, sleeping pills and sleep apnea isn’t a good match. In fact they make the situation worse by relaxing the muscles in the back of the throat. It is also advisable not to take any kind of antihistamines like benadryl.

What is an antihistamine?

Usually when people hear of antihistamines they think of allergies. Over the counter medicines like benadryl help folks with their allergies and they also help them go to sleep. Other allergy medicines with antihistamines in them are Dimetapp, Claritin and Zyrtec. What antihistamines do is block a chemical called histamine which blocks the nasal passage and can affect your breathing.

Antihistamines are also found in over the counter sleep aids as well. Nytol, Sominex and Unisom are a few of the sleep aids that contain antihistamines. There has always been controversy with the idea that sleeping pills actually help especially in the long run. These types of pills are taken usually for short term insomnia. They can be considered effective for a little while but overtime they lose there effectiveness.

The dilemma with benadryl and sleep apnea patients is that many who have OSA also have problems with allergies and sinuses. Do you take the benadryl? In my case I have and it does help with the allergies, but I find that my sleep apnea pattern of sleeping gets much worse. It is probably a good idea to talk to your doctor if you have sleep apnea and allergy problems to find out what is right solution for you.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why don’t you see if you have sleep apnea?

It is really amazing that there are so many people out there who have sleep apnea and don’t know it. This disorder has gotten a lot of press and coverage over the past few years so you would think that people especially men would be going to the doctor to sign up for a sleep study. But for some reason it doesn’t happen. Why don’t you see if you have sleep apnea?



Here are a few of the possible reasons

  • Believe it or not maybe you haven’t heard about it. That may seem strange but it could happen especially if you don’t see a doctor that often. 
  • You have heard about sleep apnea and you have definitely heard about the cpap machine and how difficult it is to use. It is true that many people find it cumbersome but that isn’t any guarantee that you will. 
  • Sleep apnea and being overweight has a connection. If you are sensitive about your weight the last thing that you want to hear is that your weight is ruining your sleep as well as your health. 
  • Worry about having an overnight sleep test is another concern. While it is challenging to have the test it really isn’t that bad. There are also home sleep monitors available now where you do the test from home. 
  • You think that your bad sleep is related to stress and other problems. It may be that but then again it may be sleep apnea.



Sleep apnea can cause terrible health problems and can even be fatal. So check with your doctor to see if you have it.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Some rest with the cpap is better than none

When I first was diagnosed with sleep apnea I really didn’t know anything about the disorder let alone the treatments. I had heard a little from a friend about the cpap but not much. My friend had a difficult time with it and gave up on it. Like a lot of people it was just too uncomfortable for him. if you have read my blog before you know that I had pretty much the same experience with it. I thought that wearing the cpap was making matters worse rather than better. Looking back I don’t know if that is entirely correct.

High expectations

I don’t know why I had such high expectations about the cpap machine. My friend had given me his horror story of the trying to use the cpap but still I thought that I could make the adjustment. For some reason I though that the adjustment would literally be over night! I would instantly fall asleep and feel fantastic the following day. As a matter of fact at the first sleep clinic that I went to they showed me a video about this guy who had sleep apnea and then started to use the cpap. Not surprising the cpap worked great for him and he felt wonderful! Well maybe that could happen to me also.

Of course it didn’t. I had troubles right from the start, all the usual problems air leaking, dry mouth and the noise of the machine was too much. It seemed that every night I would end up taking the mask off. I probably was benefiting from it for the little time that I used it but my mind set was that I was going to sleep like a baby or not use it at all. That was probably a bad decision on my part

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dental devices and sleep apnea

Luckily there are many remedies besides the CPAP ( although it is probably the most popular ) that are effective remedies for sleep apnea. I recently wrote about throat exercises to tighten loose tissue in the back of the mouth, it may not cure your sleep apnea but it may help. Playing the didgeridoo, a musical instrument, also helps to unblock the airway. And there are also dental devices, also called oral appliances that you may want to try.

In a previous post I described MAD or the mandibular advancement device, a device that is fitted in your mouth to push forward the jaw which helps keep the airway open. There is also a dental device TRD or tongue retraining device. What happens with the TRD is the tongue is kept in place by a splint which in turn keeps the airway open.

Of course dental devices like the CPAP aren’t for everyone. If you have severe obstructive sleep apnea dental devices might not be enough, using a cpap or surgery might be your only option. And you might also find that the device is too uncomfortable to wear at night.

But you should consider it if you find the cpap too uncomfortable and you are leery about having surgery. Talk to your doctor and your dentist to see what option is right for you.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sleep disorders and trying to stay awake during the day

Are you a big coffee drinker or do you drink a lot of sodas during the day to stay awake? Caffeine can only help for a little while till you need another fix. Lack of sleep is quite a big problem today. Sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea can have quite a negative effect on your life. They make life a living hell as you try to stay awake during the day.Your quality of life takes a beating and your productivity lessens as you struggle to stay awake.  And the thing is that there are many reasons why you can't stay awake during the day.

The other day I received an email from Jena Ellis. She gave me a blog link about eight reasons that you can’t stay awake during the day. The article describes such sleep disorders as sleep apnea which most people know about to less well known disorders. Something that I found interesting was that dehydration was on the list because it causes fatigue.

It is a good post that is definitely worth checking out.

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sleep fragmentation and sleep apnea

The sleep apnea community has been growing annually at an alarming rate. Whether it is due to gaining weight or the shape of your face blockage occurs in the back of your throat causing you to wake up possibly hundred of time each night. Sleep apnea is one of the top and most talked about sleep disorders. Even if you don’t have any sleep disorders restless nights do occur. Sleep fragmentation can happen to anyone.

What is sleep fragmentation?

Sleep fragmentation is being deprived of sleep and the interruption of sleep stages due to things like stressful events that happened to you, new medication, eating too much right before you go to bed and not keeping a regular sleeping routine. Unfortunately the end result will be daytime drowsiness that can negatively affect your sleep for the following nights. Not to mention the effects it will have on you on your daytime activities.

Although insomnia may also be caused by some of the same things as Sleep fragmentation there is a different between the two. With insomnia you have difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep whereas sleep fragmentation there are constant interruptions.

Of course with sleep apnea your sleep fragmentation can be corrected by using the CPAP machine, dental devices or surgeries.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sleep Apnea and strong throat muscles

The cause of sleep apnea comes down to the blockage of the airway in the back of your throat. When you are trying to sleep the loose tissues in the throat collapses causing you to stop breathing, which in turn sends a signal to the brain that you better wake up fast. You fall asleep again and in a few short minutes you wake up again, this pattern will happen all night. There are many ways to cure this, using the Cpap machine is common and surgery is sometimes needed if the blockage is severe. Something else you may try is to strengthen the muscles in the back of your throat by doing mouth exercises.

Quick exercises that you could try:
  • Stick your tongue straight out and hold it for 2 seconds, do this 5 times. 
  • Stick your tongue out and move it from side to side, do this 10 times. 
  • Make a big smile and hold it for 2 seconds, do this 10 times. 
  • Move your tongue back and forth from one side of your mouth to another. 
  • circle your mouth with your tongue make sure to have your mouth wide open 
  • Singing the vowels ‘A, E, I, O, U ‘as a matter of fact any singing is supposed to strengthen your throat muscles. 
  • Playing the didgeridoo.

Of course doing aerobic exercise and watching your diet are also good for losing weight not to mention a healthier heart.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pain medications and sleep apnea

About two weeks ago I had an injection in my ear to treat my meniere’s disease. I will receive a total of four shots with two weeks in between each shot. After the first injection my ear hurt quite a bit and I had a terrible headache. The doctor called in a pain medication and it seemed to help some but as you know pain medications and sleep apnea usually aren’t a good mix.

It is widely known that sleeping pills shouldn’t be used by sleep apnea patients. The medication apparently relaxes the muscles in the back of the throat blocking the airway making the sleep apnea even worse which means you get even less sleep. Now if you are using a CPAP then it might be a different story, you’d have to check with your doctor to see if it’s okay to use sleep medication while using a CPAP.

As for pain medications in my own situation it really makes it difficult to get any rest. I know that the pain pills are sedative in nature so like sleeping pills they probably relax the muscles in the back of my throat. It’s a tough decision whether to take the meds or not because if you don’t the pain that you are experiencing wouldn’t go away but if you do your sleeping is worse then usual.

If you have had a similar situation with sleep apnea and pain meds let me know.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sleep apnea and glaucoma

I have worn glasses since I was about ten years old. It seems that I have always had some problem with my sight. About five years ago I was diagnosed with a type of glaucoma. Of course I have had sleep apnea for years and years but I didn’t realize at the time that there might be a connection between sleep apnea and glaucoma.

My eye sight has always been poor so it came as no surprise when the eye doctor told me that I had glaucoma. He said that it could easily be corrected by using a laser to open a hole in each eyeball to relieve pressure. That sounds a lot worse than it really is. The procedure took all of 5 minutes and hardly any recovery time. I had to have it checked every six months to make sure the hole hadn’t grown over. Finally when I had my cataract surgery the surgeon was able to correct the problem.

In a previous post I wrote about the connection between sleep apnea and diabetic retinopathy. Now I have read that an alarming number of sleep apnea patients also have glaucoma! I am not sure that my glaucoma was the result of my sleep apnea but I also believe that heredity plays a part because my father had bad eyesight and sleep apnea.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Who is more at risk for sleep apnea young or old men?

If you have sleep apnea or know anything about it you know that it can be fatal. And you probably know the men have sleep apnea more than women. But now some are saying that young men are at greater risk than older men of dying from sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can affect anyone, men, women and children of any age. While it is more likely to occur in overweight people it can also be found in thin folks who have certain facial characteristics. Most sleep apnea patients suffer from obstructive sleep apnea which occurs when there is blockage in the back of the throat due to excess tissue or an enlarged tongue. Central sleep apnea is when the brain stops sending messages to the muscles that control breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea is much more common than central sleep apnea.

According to an article in The News website, young men in their twenties have a higher risk than men who are older. There was a ten year study that showed men between 20 and 29 had a higher rate of mortality than in any other age group. The 30 to 39 group had a high mortality rate but as high as the first group and the 40 to 49 age group had a slightly less mortality rate than the 30 to 39 group. Whereas those over 50 didn’t have a high mortality risk at all, this is amazing! It seems that some people with sleep apnea develop a coping mechanism as they get older.

So if you are a young man with sleep apnea it would be worth your while to seek help immediately and even if you are older it’s still a good idea to control your sleep apnea.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Can cpap restore brain tissue?

When I first read this headline while surfing the net I couldn’t believe it. I really didn’t think that anything could reverse the loss of brain tissue, but apparently there is validity to this claim.

There was a study done in Italy with half the people with sleep apnea and the other half without. At the beginning of the test it was determined that the sleep apnea group had less gray matter, then the group that didn’t have sleep apnea. This isn’t anything new people who have studied sleep apnea for years have been talking about how this condition not only affects your heart and your energy but also your mind. The thought that this condition could somehow be reversed is quite remarkable.

What is gray matter?

Gray matter is composed of cell bodies of nerves in the brain. The amount of gray matter can depend on heredity as well as environment. While it is believed by some people that intelligence depends solely on the volume of gray matter, in reality it only plays a part in how high your IQ is.

What did the study show?

It took about three months before the cpap helped increase the gray matter in the brain of those with sleep apnea. However after a year of treatment there wasn’t any more increase in gray matter.

This is certainly wonderful news to anyone who uses a cpap to control their sleep apnea.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sleep apnea and gastric bypass

We all know about the connection between being overweight and having sleep apnea. Your chances of having sleep apnea are much greater if you are overweight and if you lose weight it probably will make the sleep apnea less severe. It wouldn’t cure it but it will help. But what if you are a candidate for Gastric Bypass Surgery, are there any problems if you are a sleep apnea patient?

According to Gastric Bypass Surgery is “combines the creation of a small stomach pouch to restrict food intake and construction of bypasses of the duodenum and other segments of the small intestine to cause malabsorption (decreased ability to absorb calories and nutrients from food).” There are risks involved in this type of surgery such as the band that is tightened around the stomach may erode, the stomach pouch may get bigger and leakage of stomach acid into the other organs. This is just a few of the things that could go wrong. So it is a serious operation.

For those with obstructive sleep apnea there is also the added risk of being put under by anesthesia. Like any surgery that a sleep apnea patient has done special precautions are needed when going under the knife. With gastric bypass surgery the sleep apnea patient may have to stay in the hospital and be monitored for a couple days because the anesthesia may last up to 48 hours in your body.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sleep apnea and GI tract condition

Sleep apnea and the way it affects your breathing causes more trouble than just keeping you awake at night. It causes problems that you may not have even considered such as GI tract conditions.

What are the GI tract conditions? Here are just a few of them…

  • Acid reflux is common among those who have sleep apnea. The acid in your stomach comes up on you while you are lying down. Luckily there is medication to take to help with acid reflux. I have had it for years and it can be miserable.  
  • There are different types of hiatal hernias. A hiatal hernia is when part of the stomach goes up through the hole in the diaphragm and this can be very painful. In my case it feels like my stomach is shifting to one side. Hiatal hernias are quite common and they can be controlled by changing your eating habits and the way you exercise and the position that you sleep in. 
  • GERD is Gastroesophageal reflux disorder where the lining of the esophagus is irritated by acid reflux. If not treated it can lead to more serious disorders. 
  • Bleeding in the upper tract may be caused by GI tract disorders this can lead to serious consequences. For the upper tract the blood can be seen in vomit.

 It should be noted that some of these disorders can also be found in people who have snoring problems also. And that a lot of GI tract conditions can be controlled by losing weight, not eating before you go to bed, eating a balanced diet and keeping your head elevated while sleeping.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Worry, Stress and sleep apnea

It has been a rather difficult time lately for me. My meniere’s disease has gotten worse and I will have to have a procedure to help alleviate it. The recovery time after the procedures is a few months. Right now I am on short term disability. So there is a lot of worry and stress and sleepless nights because of this and sleep apnea.

Lack of rest due to sleep disorders (sleep apnea) can lead to many complications such as heart disease and diabetes but also emotional problems such as depression. But this time in my life it seems that the worry and stress has made my sleep apnea worse. I find that I am unable to fall asleep as quickly as I usually do. I lay in bed for what seems like hours. I’m tired but I just can’t fall asleep. I know I shouldn’t take any sedatives but lately I have tried some and they don’t seem to help much they only give me headaches.

Before the latest meniere’s problems, I didn’t rest that much, but not it seems like I don’t get any rest at all. Since I am at home during the day I can take a nap but I find that even difficult. I’m sure that stress and worry plays a big part in it. Hopefully when things calm down with my meniere’s disease I will rest better.

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