Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How much sleep do you need?

If you have sleep apnea, then you know that you don’t get enough sleep at night. It is difficult to get any rest if you are waking up every few minutes gasping for air. But if you finally find a way to correct your sleep apnea, maybe by surgery or using a cpap, then you can get all the sleep that you need.

But how much sleep is enough?

In the past, the general rule was that eight hours of sleep is about right for an adult, more than that for children. But now, studies show that the number of hours needed for sleep depends on the person, whether it is 6 or 8 or 10 hours. Some have even suggested that the amount of sleep needed is somehow genetically coded, meaning you are born with it.

If you have sleep apnea you certainly aren’t meeting the required amount of sleep every night, what you are doing is building up a sleep debt, which also has an effect on the time you spend in bed. Your body is always trying to pay back that amount, but if you are suffering from sleep apnea the debt just continues to climb.

It has also been shown that sleeping too much isn’t good for you either. Long periods of sleep are sometimes associated with illness and depression.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sleep apnea and sex

In the past I have written about how sleep apnea affects relationships and I have also written about sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction. Now there is a study out from the National Sleep Foundation that concludes that one in four couples avoid or skip sex because they are tired.

Of course it isn’t all due to sleep apnea; there are other things that prevent people from sleeping and having sex. In the study it is reported that work schedules are the biggest culprit and that is certainly understandable. Stress and anxiety can also keep you from sleeping. And that isn’t surprising there seems to be a lot of stress and anxiety now a days. Not staying in shape and not eating right also plays a factor in losing sleep. Bad lifestyle choices can lead to illnesses that will certainly affect the amount of rest that you get as well.

There are also sleep disorders other than sleep apnea to content with such as insomnia. During a regular year 30 to 40 percent of people have some kind of insomnia whereas 10 to 15 have an ongoing problem with it.

Sleeping or the lack of sleep can cause not only physical problems and illnesses it can also strain relationships. So it is vitally important to attend to your sleep problems.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why are more people getting sleep apnea?

With the internet, information is fast and detailed, you can learn about everything from a to z. Every disease and disorder known to man is only a click away. You can find out what to eat, how much to eat, how much exercise a person your age should do, staying healthy shouldn’t be a problem. But not everyone follows the healthy living advice found on the web and the TV. Sleep apnea has also gotten a lot of press, mostly because sleep is closely tied to good health, sleep apnea ruins that sleep, so why are more people getting sleep apnea?

The easy answer is people still gain weight no matter how health conscious the internet and the media in general are. They preach about losing weight and keeping weight off. They tell you of the perils of being overweight and how important it is to lead a good example for the next generation. Of course obesity in children today is worse than ever, due to junk food and inactivity. Being overweight can certainly lead to sleep apnea. But it isn’t just being overweight that causes sleep apnea, an enlarged tongue can cause it and so can a narrow throat.

The perfect solution to curtail the rise in sleep apnea would be for everyone to watch what they eat and exercise. From my own experience I know that it just isn’t that easy. Starting on an exercise program is difficult if you don’t have any energy. What I am trying to do right now is to exercise just a little each day, hopefully that will increase my energy.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sleep apnea and pollen

While I was growing up pollen didn’t seem to bother me like it bothered other folks. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania and the pollen really wasn’t that bad there. I didn’t experience how bad pollen could be till I moved to Georgia many years ago. The pollen is so great that it covers everything with a green slimy layer. Right now we are in the midst of one of the worse pollen seasons that I can remember. Not only do I have problems during the day with sore eyes and a runny nose, my sleep apnea seems to be worse this time of the year also.

No matter if you keep the doors and the windows shut the pollen still seems to get into the house. Maybe it is the air conditioning that lets the pollen through, I don’t know for sure, but somehow it gets in. While I am trying to sleep (as good as anyone with untreated sleep apnea can) the pollen gets into my throat and I will usually wake up with a scratchy throat. I have been taking benadryl at night but that really doesn’t help much. Anyway benadryl is a sedative which I have to be careful taking because I also take a sedative for my meniere’s disease. Too many sedatives aren’t good for someone with sleep apnea.

Well hopefully the pollen season will pass in a few weeks which will be a relief to me and others who suffer from it.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

sleep apnea and memory

Are you having problems with your memory? No matter how hard you try there are times when your mind draws a blank and you just can’t remember something that you know but you just can’t recall. It may not be a coincidence that you have trouble remembering things and that you are a sleep apnea sufferer.

Just the other day at work I booted up my pc and went to type my password and forgot it, the same password that I had for quite a while. I tried and tried but I just couldn’t remember. Needless to say I was embarrassed. My age (52) shouldn’t have anything to do with it. There must be some reason and it has to be the lack of sleep that I get.

As many of you know sleep apnea has an adverse effect on the brain. The lack of oxygen that the brain receives at night can cause the death of brain cells which in effect causes memory loss. This is similar to the brain loss that occurs with alcoholism and Alzheimer’s according to this UCLA Study. One possible solution is taking Vitamin B1 supplements but there haven’t been any studies to back that up.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

An overview of my sleep studies

An overview of my sleep studies

Recently I received a comment from one of my posts asking for more information about my sleep studies.

Here is part of the comment.

I've read quite a few of your entries. For all the trouble you've reported with using CPAP religiously, the blog appears to be short on details. It looks like you've moved into more of the "educating others" mode:-) It'd be interesting to know the chapter and verse of all seven sleep studies, for instance.

Really the problem that I had with the sleep studies is quite simple, I couldn’t fall asleep. I followed the instructions that were given to me for the day of the sleep study. I didn’t take any nap and I cut back on my caffeine intake. But with all the studies that I had I still couldn’t fall asleep. Sleeping in a strange place is probably one of the reasons I couldn’t fall asleep. The sleep study bedrooms all looked like they were hospital rooms. Another reason was the wiring attached to me, I toss and turn quite a bit and at times the wires would get loose. I tried to stay still and sleep on my back but I just ended up staring at the ceiling.

But the biggest reason in my mind was that the test had to last a certain amount of hours which meant that I had to start to sleep no later than 10. Well because of my work schedule I don’t go to bed till after midnight so at 10 o’clock I wasn’t the least bit tired. This seems to irritate the sleep techs even though I explained to them that it was too early for me to fall asleep.

So that is basically why the sleep studies haven’t bee much of a success for me.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sleep apnea cures

Sleep apnea occurs when there is a blockage in the airway in the back of the throat. Here is a rundown of basic sleep apnea cures.
  • The most popular and the one that a lot of people find difficult to adjust to is the CPAP machine. Continuous positive airway pressure pushes air into the throat at a rate that keeps the airway in the back of the mouth open. There are variations on the cpap such as the bipap and the apap. The differences are how the air is directed into the throat. 
  • Dental devices are sometimes used to keep the airway open. Usually dental devices are only used for mild cases of sleep apnea. 
  • Surgery is usually considered after the cpap fails. Three types of surgery are Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Maxillomandibular advancement and somnoplasty. UPPP and the MAX surgeries recovery times are rather long and there isn’t any guarantees that it works.  
  • Losing weight will definitely help sleep apnea will help some people but not all because thin people can have sleep apnea also. 
  • There are off beat treatments like doing throat exercises and playing the didgeridoo. The theory behind this is to strengthen the muscles and tissues in the back of the throat. You can give them a try but there effectiveness is questioned. 


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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sleep apnea and work

Getting up early in the morning to go to work isn’t the most enjoyable thing in the world. Actually the going to work part might not be the worse, it’s the getting up early in the morning is the tough part. No matter how early you go to bed you feel like you could always sleep a little longer. Now if you have sleep apnea you probably feel like you could sleep through the whole day.

In my own particular case it really doesn’t seem to matter how early I go to bed. I will still feel tired in the morning. And when I get to work I’m tired and half way through the day I’m tired and at the end of the day I’m exhausted. Like most people I rely on caffeine to keep my awake and semi-alert. I work in an office so I am not physically tired at the end of the day, but mentally I’m tired. To me it seems that the sleep apnea and the lack of REM time that you receive affect your cognitive skills and your alertness more than anything.

The strange part of it all is at night I usually have a hard time falling asleep. I don’t know if that is due to the caffeine or the fact that I have tried so hard to keep awake all day, that at night it’s difficult to relax and try to sleep. Of course with sleep apnea you don’t sleep long before you wake up.

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