Sunday, January 30, 2011

Children’s sleep problems including sleep apnea

For a lot of children getting enough sleep is a big problem. Getting the children to bed is also a very big problem for the parents especially as they get older. But it has to be dealt with because sleep is very important to emotional as well as physical growth. And children need a lot more sleep than adults. Believe it or not infants usually sleep up to 16 hours a day in 3 to 4 hour intervals. (I know that is hard to believe!). Whereas teenagers should get around 9 hours according to the American Sleep Disorder Association. I doubt if that happens either. As for how much sleep an adult needs is around 7 or hours depending on the person (and depending if you have children). Like you children can also have sleep disorders even the worse kind, sleep apnea, which can appear at any age.

Sleep problems for children

  • Sleep apnea can be found in infants as well as younger children. Blockage is usually due to enlarged tongues. 
  • Bedwetting or nocturnal enuresis is probably the most well-known sleep problem among kids it also occurs with adults. 
  • Night terror or parasomnia can be a frightening event for children as well as adults. 
  • Snoring is another problem that children and adults have to put up with.

If left untreated sleep disorders in children can cause learning and memory problems as well as behavioral problems. Like adults accidents can also happen more frequently when you are restless and less attentive. Sleep disorders can usually be treated with better sleeping habits such as going to bed at the same time every night, no late night snacks, and maintaining a good sleeping atmosphere in the bedroom.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sleep apnea and micro-arousals

Sleep apnea is divided into obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive is caused by blockage of the airway and central apnea, which is less common, is caused when the brain doesn’t send signals to the muscles to breathe. As with most things there are different levels of severity of sleep apnea. With obstructive sleep apnea the range of severity can be determined by a sleep study that counts the number of apnea, or cessation of breathing, that occurs if the number isn’t high, and then your sleep apnea might be cured by an oral device or by just losing weight. It should also be noted that not all awakening are the same there are apneas and there are micro-arousals.

What is a micro-arousal?

According to micro arousals are “a sudden transient cortical activation during sleep, but does not necessarily result in a behavioral awakening. The origin of an arousal is usually "cortical" but it can also be generated in response to sensory perturbations, such as respiratory interruption (apnea or snoring), alteration of heart rate or blood pressure, noise, or movement disorders The criterion for pathology in terms of number of arousals has not yet been determined, but a reasonable cut-off point, used in "normal" sleepers, is approximately 10 to 12 arousals per hour.”

So it isn’t uncommon to have micro arousals but when they develop into apneas then it is a concern.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sleep apnea and emotional problems

It isn’t any secret that sleep apnea makes you feel irritable, unhappy, tired and depressed and it is no wonder because lack of sleep will cause these feeling with anyone whether they have sleep apnea or not. Usually with sleep apnea most people think about all the physical damage that is done to the body, such as heart disease, diabetes, poor circulation and countless other things that tear your body down. And that is understandable but you also to consider the damage of sleep deprivation and what it does to your emotional state of being. The stress and anxiety that is the result of sleep apnea can also lead to physical harm as well.

Emotional problems and sleep apnea

  • Depression – If you didn’t sleep or didn’t get any rest for many years you would probably be depressed too. It is common among sleep apnea patients. 
  • Addiction – This is linked to depression because people often try to self medicate themselves out of problems with pills, sleeping pills especially, alcohol and drugs. Alcohol in fact makes sleep apnea worse. 
  • Stress – Without the proper rest your body is easily susceptible to stress and anxiety which in turn makes other emotional problems worse. 
  • OCD – there seems to be a connection between obsessive compulsive disorder and some sleep disorders including sleep apnea. 
  • Memory loss – memory loss is common with sleep apnea sufferers which can lead to stress and depression. 

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

REM and sleep apnea

A lot more goes on when you are sleeping then you would think. Instead of your body just hibernating for eight or so hours and then waking up, sleep performs many functions. As you probably know there are five stages of sleep that you routinely go through every night, not in any particular order. As you can imagine sleep apnea interrupts this process depriving you of the full affects of sleep, which are rest and important restoration of the brain and body, possibly the most important one the Rapid Eye Movement or REM.

What is REM?

According to Free dictionary dot com “REM is a stage in the normal sleep cycle during which dreams occur and the body undergoes marked changes including rapid eye movement, loss of reflexes, and increased pulse rate and brain activity. It is also called paradoxical sleep.”

A lot goes on during REM such as increased heart rate, brain activity and muscle relaxation. In this state dreaming occurs as well as memory and learning development. As you can imagine sleep apnea disrupts this stage which in turn stifles the development opportunities that occur with folks who don’t have sleep apnea. What is also interesting about the stage of REM is the body is in paralyzed state, so you wouldn’t be able to hurt yourself trying to act out dreams.

The four other stages of sleep are considered NREM or non rapid eye movement. Although dreaming is considered mostly in REM it can occur in any stage. It takes about two hours to run through all the sleep stages.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sleepless nights burn energy

Night after sleepless night of sleep apnea leads to long tired days that seem to never end. Your energy level is zapped and doing the smallest chore wears you out. In fact even laying in bed takes more energy with sleep apnea then if you had a completely peaceful night where you slept the whole way through.

According to the University of Colorado researchers lying in bed with sleep apnea does in fact burn more energy than falling asleep. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a surprise but you do burn more calories that way. The research from the article suggests that it would be like walking 2 miles!

Muscle repair and restoration occurs in what sleep stage?

When we sleep at night our bodies go through 5 sleep stages. The stage that most people are aware of is REM or rapid eye movement which usually lasts 90 to 120 minutes a night. Unfortunately sleep apnea becomes worse during this most important sleep stage. While you can dream during any sleep stage, REM is usually the time when dreaming occurs. REM is also important to developing memory and brain activity. NREM, which happens during stages 1 through 4, is more a deep sleep which restores muscle tissue, specifically sleep stage 3 and 4.

All this restoration and energy replenishment takes a beating when you have sleep apnea.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Preventing Sleep Apnea

There are many illnesses and diseases that can be prevented by leading a healthy life of exercise and eating right. Of course sometimes that isn’t enough and you may require medication or other medical intervention. In the case of sleep apnea it is difficult to say that you can prevent it. Are the causes of sleep apnea something you can prevent or are you eventually going to have sleep apnea anyway?

Sleep apnea is caused by the blockage of the airway in the back of the throat thus causing you to wake up suddenly gasping for air. Why is there blockage in the back of the throat? It could excess tissue or it could an enlarged tongue or even the shape of your face may play a part in it. The excess tissue happens frequently because of the sleep apnea sufferer being overweight. That is not to say that every person who has sleep apnea is overweight but it is very common. What if you would lose the weight would you still have sleep apnea? You might but it wouldn’t be as bad as it was before, at least that was what was told to me by a doctor. But what about the other conditions such as an enlarged tongue and the shape of your face. There isn’t much you can do about that. My sleep apnea is caused because of an enlarged tongue and the shape of my face. One doctor suggested that if I couldn’t get used to a cpap machine that surgery would be my only hope to get a good night’s sleep.

Certainly there are things that you can do to not aggravate the sleep apnea. Drinking alcohol before going to bed or taking any kind of sedative, sleeping pills will definitely make matters worse. Sleeping on your side also helps some folks slow down this sleeping disorder. As noted earlier losing weight and exercising is beneficial.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Having a cold and sleep apnea

Just a few weeks ago I had a cold right around Christmas time. Colds are bad anytime but trying to deal with Christmas and all that it involves can be a handful. To top it off I have sleep apnea which becomes worse when my nose is stuffed up and I start to cough. When I went to bed I more or less just laid there and closed my eyes hoping that I would fall asleep. Eventually I did for a short while only to awake with my typical apnea snore. I thought about taking cold medicine but of course you have to be careful because most of that stuff makes you sleepy, which in turn makes the sleep apnea even worse, if that is imaginable.

What if you were using a cpap and you caught a cold?

I didn’t use the cpap machine that long but during the time that I did use it I did have at least one cold and it was particularly unpleasant. On good days I never really felt comfortable with the air being pushed through my throat so when my throat was sore it was especially bad. Even with a humidifier the dry air made my throat even drier. Unfortunately I used a full face mask because I breathed through my mouth at night and not my nose. Not that it mattered because when you have a cold your nose is congested. So what did I do? Like I did on many nights I would give the mask a try then pull it off and attempt to get some rest. I should say that although I didn’t have any luck with the cpap there are millions of people who have been able to get used to it and when they get a cold they probably continue to use it also.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Late night eating and sleep apnea

With the New Year upon us many are thinking about their excess weight and how to lose it. They realize that a new year is a great time to start a exercise program and a diet. if you have sleep apnea becoming more healthy is even more important because if you lose the weight than the sleep interruptions during the night will be cut down (at least they should) if you aren't that ambitious and find that you don't have will power to diet and exercise, there is one thing that you should at least try and that's to cut out late night eating. Late night eating can cause you to gain weight and it certainly can affect how you sleep.

This is a bad habit of mine that I have had for years. Right before I go to bed I eat snack food. I know it is a bad habit especially if you have sleep apnea. With all the problems that you face with waking up constantly you don't want to add anymore problems. But what can you do? Probably the best way to wean yourself off late night snacking is to say I won't eat after a certain period of time. When you feel comfortable with that time, set your no eating zone earlier in the evening. Another good sleeping tip that will help you out with this is try to go to bed at the same time every night. Also be careful what food you snack on, the healthier the better.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Strange new device for sleep apnea

The most recognized cure for sleep apnea is the CPAP machine, a device that blows air through a tube constantly which in turn keeps the throat’s airway open. If the CPAP doesn’t work there is always surgery, which is not always reliable. Alternative cures exist like playing didgeridoo or doing mouth exercises but they haven’t been proven to work. Now there is a new device created by Inspire medical systems which acts like a pacemaker to keep your throat open.

The device is surgically implanted in your chest. The device sends electrical shocks (small electrical shocks) to the tongue and the back of the throat to keep them from collapsing which prevents airway blockage. The pacemaker detects when the sleep apnea sufferer stops breathing, it then send the charge. I can imagine that whatever electrical charge is sent it can’t be that strong, at least I hope not. The device can also be adjusted for different levels of sleep apnea.

Testing on the device will begin at the end of January with 100 patients. It will be interesting to see if it works

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