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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