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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