Sunday, May 30, 2010

Do you keep the windows open at night if you have sleep apnea

In the spring before it gets too hot I like to sleep with the windows open. The air is refreshing and usually cool which is conductive for sleeping. Unfortunately there are also problems having the windows open especially if you have sleep apnea.

If you have sleep apnea and can’t use a cpap then you know how difficult it is to get any sleep in any situation. Having a comfortable surrounding as well as a comfortable mattress is very important. In a previous post I wrote about how the room temperature needs to be cool if not cold. You would think in the spring the evening air would be perfect for sleeping but there are problems. Noise is always a problem especially if you live in an apartment or a house that is close to others. TVs blaring, dogs barking, people talking very loud and the list goes on. And I am sure that your neighbors in an apartment building aren’t too thrilled about hearing your snoring.

Pollen is another problem because it forces you to close the windows and this makes the house usually stuffy but if you are gasping for air pollen you will take it in.

Now if you are able to use a cpap then having the window open isn’t so bad because the noise is drowned out by the machine and the air that you take in comes from the cpap which has a filter. Unfortunately I can’t use a cpap. So I will turn the air up, shut the windows and forget about the fresh air.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sleep apnea might be good for elderly

When I saw this headline I couldn’t even possibly conceive of anyway that sleep apnea is good for anyone. I know the waking up constantly and being tired the next day hasn’t helped me, not to mention what it does to my heart. But according to an Israeli study sleep apnea might be good for the elderly.

A leading sleep apnea expert, Dr. Peretz Lavie and his wife, cell researcher Dr. Lena Lavie have come to the conclusion that moderate sleep apnea can extend the life of the elderly. They did a research with 600 people over the age of 70. The whole premise is that older patients get their blood from a larger number of arteries than those without sleep apnea. These additional arteries (called collaterals) give them more blood than those who don’t have sleep apnea. These finding may lead to a new way of looking at protecting the heart.

This is the first that I have heard about it and it sounds exciting, although I am a little skeptical because my father died when he was older from heart problems and he had sleep apnea pretty bad. I would still think that finding a solution to sleep apnea would be better in the long run.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Finding information about sleep apnea

It used to be that sleep apnea was a strange term that few people had heard of. The phrase sleep apnea wasn’t even used till 1978 when a Harvard Physician Dr. John Remmer first coined the phrase Obstructive Sleep apnea. And the cpap wasn't invented till 1981. So the public has really been aware of this problem only for the last thirty years or so. But now with obesity on the rise in children and adults it has become a real problem. The question is, where can you find information about sleep apnea?

  • The American Sleep Apnea foundation has a wonderful website with quite a bit of information plus it has a terrific forum where sleep apnea patients help each other out with advice and encouragement.  
  • For basic information about sleep apnea the National Institutes of Health has a website that describes sleep apnea and goes over the root causes and the general treatments for sleep apnea. They also have interesting animation that shows how the airway is blocked at night. 
  • National Center on Sleep Disorders Research is another government site dedicated to not only sleep apnea but other sleep disorders as well. 
  • Doctor Steven Park's website is well known as a great place to find out everything you wanted to know about sleep apnea, the causes, treatments and anything else about it. It is definitely worth subscribing to.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home sleep monitors

If you have had a sleep study done to see if you had sleep apnea you know what a strange ordeal that can be. You probably remember how weird it was to have wires stuck to your head, chest and legs with type of glue that took along time to get out of your hair, also the strangeness of sleeping knowing that someone is watching you all night. It was all very odd and usually unsuccessful for me as I have written before. But it seems that you don’t have to leave your own home to be tested for sleep apnea now, there are home sleep monitors that can do the trick.

Why would a home sleep monitor be better that a sleep study in a hospital?

The first thing that comes to mind is the comfort level. The places that I have had my sleep studies done aren’t really conducive to sleeping, the rooms are generally cold and for some people like me, sleeping on a strange bed isn’t very comfortable. And there is also less wires attached to you which makes for a more comfortable sleep. Not only will the home sleep monitor test for sleep apnea it can also be used for cpap titration.

The biggest advantage is the cost which is a lot less than staying overnight in a sleep clinic which can be pretty expensive. The only catch is that the home sleep monitoring system isn’t for everybody; your doctor will have to make that call.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

How quickly do you fall asleep with sleep apnea?

Most nights I fall asleep fairly quick usually in a few moments after my head hits the pillow. Of course I wake up constantly due to the sleep apnea but most of the time I am so tired that the initially I fall asleep pretty fast. Does this indicate anything other than I am just very tired?

It has been suggested that if you fall asleep faster than 5 minutes than you are experiencing excessive sleepiness. I guess that’s right because I usually fall asleep a lot faster than 5 minutes.

Like most people there has also been nights when I just can’t fall asleep. I stare at the ceiling and worry about how tired I will be in the morning. I have also tried relaxation techniques like self hypnosis which sometime helps but not always. Usually if I can’t get to sleep it means that I took a longer than normal nap in the afternoon and I’m not that tired or maybe it was the weekend and I woke up later. Eating right before bed can also prevent you from falling asleep It seems the best way to handle sleepless nights is just to close your eyes and don’t worry about falling asleep. The more you worry the less chance you’ll have of sleeping. I know that sounds a lot easier than it is.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sleep apnea and napping

I love to take a nap in the afternoon (when I’m not working of course) it really helps me through my day. While it does make me feel better, if I take a long nap it means that I wouldn’t get to sleep as easily at night. But then again with sleep apnea I don’t sleep that much anyway. Is napping good for you?

I have read different opinions about whether napping is good for you or not. When you are very young taking a nap is routine especially for babies and toddlers. As for adults it was one time considered bad because it would interrupt with your evening sleep. I certainly understand that but I think that the key is not to nap too long.

How long is a good nap? If you said a couple hours then you’re wrong! The best naps, from what I have read are 20 to 30 minutes. Set an alarm if you are a heavy sleeper. Since I have sleep apnea I’m constantly waking up anyway so an alarm for a nap isn’t necessary for me.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Interesting information about dreams

Although dreams according to some people only happen during the REM stage of sleep, people with sleep apnea still dream. I know I do. Sometimes the dreams even seem long, other times they are abrupt. I suppose that has to do with the sleep apnea kicking in. I received an email the other day about an article on dreaming called 15 Fascinating Facts About Your Dreams. The list is really interesting with a lot of things that I didn't know.

I knew of some of the things listed like the late night snacking can cause nightmares. That is certainly a problem of mine. And the one about how the REM state is similar to being awake as far as the brain is concerned.

But there are other ones that I truly didn’t know about or even think about like how do blind people dream, it’s an interesting explanation.

The most interesting one for me and it explains why I dream even though I have sleep apnea is that you can dream during any stage of sleep, REM or not.

It is a very interesting article you should check it out.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A personal account of seizures and sleep apnea

Last October I wrote a post on seizures and sleep apnea. In the post I wrote that there seems to be a connection between the two. Recently, I received a very informative and personal account of someone with seizures and sleep apnea.

Here is the comment…

I can relate to your confusion. I first started having grand mal seizures in my sleep when I was 32, their frequency increased to approx. once a month (with a max of 2 in one week). My wife noticed that I gasped for air in my sleep, and sometimes there was a noticeable gap in my breathing in my sleep. Despite the fact that all of my seizures were in my sleep and my wife noticed breathing problems in my sleep, I saw 4 neurologists in 2 years and all of them dismissed apnea as an issue (it took me two years, two years of hell on epilepsy medication that exacerbates apnea, to find a neurologist that would actually give me a sleep study as the others thought that I "was not fat enough" for apnea). Each of them claimed that there was no proof of a relationship. Unfortunately, they used the textbook definition of proof (which is not relevant in neurology - i.e. most of the conditions in neurology are not amenable to randomized-controlled experiments). They all ignored the fact that since the 1980s there has been substantial evidence that there is a pathogenic link (unfortunately since the late 90s work in this area died off, it is now a fashionable issue once again, mainly thanks to Beth Malow at Vanderbilt). If any neurologist uses the word "proof" in their diagnoses, get as far away from them as possible. Stick to the ones who refer to "evidence."

There are a lot of papers out there that study the relationship between seizures and apnea, here are a few of the key results:

"Epilepsy and sleep apnea syndrome," Neurology, 1994, vol. 44, no11, pp. 2060-2064, "Obstructive sleep apnea is common in medically refractory epilepsy patients," Neurology, 2000, vol. 55, no7, pp. 1002-1007 (where one third of patients with epilepsy were found to have apnea, 50% for males). In 2006 a researcher went as far as to say: "we did observe a significant trend toward improvement in seizure frequency among patients who received CPAP - a result that rivals that of an antiepileptic drug," principal investigator Beth Ann Malow, MD, from Vanderbilt University. “Three of the patients became seizure free and a fourth patient had a greater than 95% reduction in seizure frequency following only the initiation of therapy for the sleep apnoea.”Vaughn et al., 1996 .

I really love comments like this that bring in their personal experiences and their thoughtful insights into the subject of sleep apnea.

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sleep apnea and night terror

It is common for most people to have nightmares, including those people who have sleep apnea. But what if the nightmare leaves you screaming and sweating in bed or maybe you begin to sleepwalk. You might have night terrors, a distressing event that leaves you scared and frightened to go to bed. If you have a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea, you may have increased your chances of have a night terror episode.

Night terrors, also called parasomnia, are beyond the unpleasantness of a nightmare. The result of a night terror episode is usually waking up screaming and frightened out of your mind. You would probably be feeling disoriented and unable to wake completely. Children unfortunately have night terrors more than adults. Occurring shortly after falling asleep, children wake up screaming and unresponsive to a parent’s voice. With adults, they may actually get out of the bed and walk around before realizing that they had a night terror.

Night terror can be connected to sleepwalking and other sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Depression and anxiety can be a cause of it in adults as well as medications. Children usually outgrow it whereas adults may need to seek treatment. The correction of sleep apnea and other sleep disorders can help solve the problem of night terrors. Seeking a doctor’s assistance is also advisable.