Insomnia, Snoring, Sleep Apnea

The world and life of a sleep tech

Planning Daytime Activities will Help You Sleep Better

Posted by amykr on July 9, 2012

You think that sleep is mostly about what you do right before you go to bed.  This is not the case at all especially for women.  There are many things that keep us from sleeping including what we eat, stress and how much we move.  If we make some plans we can improve our sleep by reducing out stress, improving our diets, maybe have a little time to work out and possibly save a bit of money. 

Plan your food.  Not just for the day but for the week.  Taking the time to do this little bit of planning and preparing takes a great deal of stress off you for the rest of the week.  The food does not have to be very fancy.  It can be as simple as yogurt and cereal during the week for breakfast a sandwich and salad for lunch and meatloaf for dinner.  The other benefit is the reduced fat and sodium will allow the food to digest better so you can sleep better.  If you have GERD or acid reflux you can plan your meals so that you are less symptomatic and it will not disturb your sleep.  If this is an issue, consider having your veggies and fruits early in the day and your lighter proteins at night.  If breakfast is your problem make muffin cup egg quiche.  They also will help to add a little veggie to your morning. 

Plan your exercise for the best time for you.  I am not a morning person.  The idea of getting up early to exercise and actually doing it made me unhappy and more tired.  Because I have planned my dinners and cooked some of them ahead of time I am able to go to the gym or to the park right after work and exercise.  You should also consider how it is going to affect your sleep.  Sometimes the rev you get from working out can keep you from falling asleep.  So keep in mind you want to have three hours to unwind after you work out.  This does not include exercises you use to unwind such as yoga, meditation or stretching.  Those exercises will actually help you since the will center your mind and allow you to relax.

Plan for the stressful situations for the week.  If you have to bring the kids to practice straight after work do not include that day as your workout day.  We cannot be perfect and we need to find our balance.  We can also plan how you are going to unwind afterwards.  It might be as simple as taking 10 minutes to read or journal after you put the kids to bed or a bubble bath or a hot shower before bed.  Both will help you to unwind and the shower will actually help your body prepare for sleep by helping to bring your body temperature down as you dry off, a signal to your brain that it is time to sleep.

As women we tend to be overschedule and not know how to say no to anything.  We do need to make the time for ourselves so we can sleep well so we can be more productive.  If we take that little bit of time once a week to plan we will have less stress.  It is not about being perfect but removing some of the situations that stress us out so we are able to live better.

 

 

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The Power of a Nap

Posted by amykr on July 2, 2012

ImageIt is summer and we love to relax on the weekends.  It is a great thing but keep in mind that a nap is good any day and time of the year if used correctly.  You can appreciate those lazy days and that nap you can take to recharge yourself for the rest of the day or it could make you feel tired and draggy for the rest of the day.

You can use a nap to recharge your batteries. There are a few rules about how to best take a nap

  1. A nap should be approximately 20 minutes long.  This allows you to get rest and reboot your brain, moving short term memories to long term memories.  It gives you bod that chance to get a little recovery time.
  2. Listen to your body’s clock to decide when you are going to take your nap.  Your body temperature drops during the afternoon around 3 pm.  That is the perfect time to take your nap as it is what your body is programed to do. 
  3. Your nap should be in your bed with the lights, television and electronics off just like when you are going to bed.
  4. Even if you do not think you are sleeping you may be.  The lightest stage of sleep, called N1 sleep, still allows you to recharge.
  5. If you have insomnia a nap is not your best choice.  Napping when you have insomnia will just aggravate the problem.

The quick nap will recharge you so the second half of your day will be more energetic.  It can allow you to reboot your brain and allow your body to recharge so you can achieve more. 

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Sleep and Your Weight

Posted by amykr on June 1, 2012

We talk about our weight all the time.  We try new food plans, we take up different exercise programs and we say positive affirmations until we are blue in the face.  We ask our doctors for help and they tell us to try harder, eat less and exercise even more.  When was the last time you were asked how well you sleep?  Our quality of sleep affects our weight more than we can ever imagine. 

 Why You Need to Get 7-8 Hours

We run on less and less sleep so we can get more done and connect to more people.  This lack of sleep has a harsh effect on our brain.  It will not only effect how we make decisions, deal with emotions and are able to concentrate but it will also affect our appetite.  Sleep deprivation causes us to make rash decisions.  This can lead to more volatile emotions and negative emotions like stress and anger.  This leads to stress eating.  It can also lead to eating foods that are high in fat, sugar or salt. 

Sleep deprivation also increases the feelings of hunger.  People who are sleep deprived will eat more frequently to help keep them awake.  Again the foods they choose tend to be high in fat, salt and sugar.  This just makes it harder to stay on your choice of food plans.

Sleep Disorders Affect Your Weight

Sleep apnea has been associated with many health problems but the biggest problem where your weight is concerned is the effect it has on your hormones.  In particular you Cortisol levels tend to be elevated and stay elevated throughout the night.  The stress response every time you stop breathing or have difficulty breathing as obvious by snoring your body responds with the fight or flight reflex and Cortisol is produced and stays elevated   High Cortisol levels keep you from being able to lose weight. 

Treating sleep apnea and snoring requires you to talk to your doctor about the problems you are having sleeping.  You will want to explain all your symptoms not just that you are having difficulty sleeping.  People with sleep apnea do not always snore so do not assume that you do not have sleep apnea if you do not snore. 

There are many doctors who will say “well, if you lose weight you will not have sleep apnea and snoring” but in order for you to be successful with the weight loss you really need to treat this problem.  Your body does not like to be stressed and if you are changing your food and your exercise but you are still stressing your body every night you will not be successful at losing weight.  You need to be your best advocate.

Do Not Underestimate the Small Stuff

Weight loss is a challenge under the best circumstances.  There are little things you can do to help you to make the weight loss journey a little easier.  Sleep is one of the biggest influences that require very littlImagee specific work.  Making sure you sleep 7-8 hours a day and that the sleep quality are two of the little changes you can do that will help you achieve your goal.

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How to Unwind so You Can Sleep

Posted by amykr on April 17, 2012

We all live in a stressful world.  We have work, family, unexpected issues and the last thing we think about is how it will affect us as we are lying in bed staring at the ceiling.  We do not think about what we can do to help solve the problem or prevent it.  Let’s take a few minutes to find a solution for you.

Oxygen is one of the great ways to reduce stress.  It is easily available and easy to get.  Take five minutes to breathe deeply and recruit more of your lung to help transfer the oxygen to your blood.  There are many routines you can use to help you to relax.  I like the inhale, hold, exhale practice.  Inhale through your nose for the count of six, hold for the count of 4 (you do not want to stress yourself), than exhale slowly through pursed lips for the count of six.  As you are inhaling imagine your lungs filling from the bottom out and when you are exhaling imagine them emptying from the top down.  Not only do you get benefit of increased oxygen level but the focus on breathing will help you to calm your mind. 

Practice a little yoga.  A simple routine can help you stretch your body, help you focus on your breathing and the health benefits will amaze you.  A simple routine is all you need and you do not have to worry about being perfect.  It is more about getting you ready to sleep.  I use Yoga.about.com for a website to choose my workout.  She has excellent routines you can follow.  Just remember you can modify the move for you.  When I first started I could not reach lower than my knees.  Now I can touch the floor most days.  Choose an easy one like a Sun Salutation to help you to get ready for bed.  This is to help you focus and deep breathe and calm your mind. 

Turn off the electronics.  The television, cell phone and other electronics are designed to stimulate you and your mind.  It is really hard to get ready to sleep when you are stimulated by light and information.  Try turning down the lights and journaling.  Not only will it eliminate the electronic stimulation but it will help you to put your ideas on paper so you can deal with them in the morning and turn them off at night.  It might also allow you to find solutions to what is bothering you and allow you to relax and fall asleep. 

Get out of bed.  If you are lying there staring at the ceiling lying in bed will frustrate you and keep you awake longer.  Get out of bed and read or do something for 20-40 minutes than go back to bed.  Take that time to relax and unwind.  Use one of the ideas above to help you.  Bed should be for sleeping and other activities should be done outside of bed.  So get up and relax than go back to bed when you are feeling more relaxed. 

Learning how to relax when you are having an occasional bout of insomnia is an important habit for you to learn.  These techniques can be used during the day to help you to relieve your stress, as part of your bedtime routine or as a solution to the occasional night of stress induced insomnia.

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That Stuffy Spring Nose Can Rob You of Sleep

Posted by amykr on April 6, 2012

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Spring has bloomed and with it the pollen levels have reached some of the highest levels of the year. For many people this is the time of year where breathing and snoring are at their worst. The minute you lie down you feel pressure on your forehead and your nose clogs up. If you snore it is loud and more disruptive than usual. If you use a CPAP this is the time of year when you are most likely to give up using it.

Finding solutions to these problems can be challenging. You know you want to feel good and rest is an important part of that but you are not sure what you can do to help yourself. There are a few things you can do that will help you.

This is the time of year that you should make sure you change the filter in your heating and cooling system. Using a HEPA filter maybe useful for those with severe allergies because it will capture more pollen, dust and mold spores.
Use an anti-shed shampoo on your pets. This is the time of year where they shed their winter coats and start to grow their summer coats. You want to make sure that their dander is limited so as not to irritate your nose.
Make sure you are well hydrated. This helps your body to function better and will help thin secretions.
Using salt water to gargle or using a Neti pot may help some people as the salt water will help to decrease the swelling in your nose and throat. You can also use a nasal saline spray to help keep your nose from drying out and keep swelling down.
Talk to your doctor. The best solutions may be an allergy medication, but these can interact with other medications you are taking and you should always talk to your doctor before starting a new medication

If you are using a CPAP machine this is the time of year to think about cleaning your equipment. The warm water that is in the humidifier is a great way to grow interesting things.

Your humidifier chamber and hose should be changed every 6 months. In between you should be washing it once a week with soap and water and then soaking it for 20 minutes in 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts water. Make sure you rinse it well or you will be smelling the vinegar all week
Your filters should be changed as well. Different manufacturers use different type of filters so make sure you check with your DME company as to how often you should change your filter.
Turn up the humidifier if you are having congestion issues. Higher humidity helps to reduce the swelling in your nose and sinuses making it more comfortable. A home humidifier will not affect your machine.

Spring is a wonderful time of year but allergies can have an effect on your sleep. It is important to take care of these issues earlier rather than later. Sleep deprivation can have hazardous effects on your health and ability to enjoy the wonderful weather that spring brings with it.

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Sleep and the Amateur Athlete

Posted by amykr on February 28, 2012

Fitness is an important part of change in a person’s health. In order to decrease injury and to get the ideal benefit to your hard work proper sleep is necessary. When you exert your body it is important for your recovery to make sure you are getting enough sleep.

During the night you go through different stages of sleep. Your body goes through different stages of sleep throughout the night. During the first third of the night we go into slow wave sleep. This is the time of sleep where we repair our body. The most essential part of recovery after an especially hard work out is the time for our muscles to heal and grow.

In order to take advantage of the best stages of sleep for your needs you need to create a routine that meets them. Since you want to take advantage of the healing time you have to plan to fall asleep rather early. To do this you need to plan ways to unwind before you go to bed. Practicing deep diaphragmatic breathing is a great way to help gear your body to unwind. By doing these exercise 6 to 10 breathes a night you will recruit airways you do not usually use and will increase the level of oxygen available to your body.
The best way to do diaphragmatic breathing is to lie down and place your hands at the bottom of the rib cage. You want to fill your lungs by pushing your hands out. You want to take this breath in slowly. At the top of the breath you want to hold it for 2 counts which will allow you to equalize pressure throughout the lung including the less used areas. Then you slowly exhale through pursed lips. That slight back pressure helps to keep those airways open. If you have need for those airways they are easier to get access to when I need that extra big breath during a run or when you are lifting.

You also need to take advantage of light and dark. Our body really does run on light and dark and the excess light especially prior to sleep will make it very difficult to fall also and you might miss some important slow wave sleep. So turning off light producing product 30 minutes before going to bed will be helpful. In younger athletes helping them to develop the ability to sleep without electronics will help them to grow, heal and be strong.
Ending your sleep too soon robs your brain of the chance to go into REM. During this period of sleep our short-term memory shifts to long-term memory. This is essential and is more productive than cramming for a test or big presentation. Getting the proper amount of sleep allows your brain to process all the information and make it easier to get access to when you need it. When you are sleep deprived because you have missed stages of sleep.

Ultimately being athletic is a combination of proper nutrition, exercise and rest. Because there are much more specific needs that can lead to injury being aware of your sleep and your physical need which may be more than the average person your age due to the need for healing. Do not skim on this because the side effects of sleep deprivation will decrease your ability to compete the way you want to.

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5 Sleep Myths Busted

Posted by amykr on November 15, 2011

There are so many myths about sleep and so many people who believe that the rules apply to everyone but them. The truth of the matter is that our bodies need so much sleep and they are designed to work with our environment. This includes the fact that it is light out during the day and dark at night. So here are five myths about sleep that everyone thinks do not apply to them and why you should not ignore them.
1. I do not need 7-8 hours of sleep. There are a small group of people who are short sleepers and trust me you probably are not one of them. Life everything 7-8 hours is an average. But our bodies need this much sleep so we can go through the different stages of sleep. If you do not get enough sleep you will not wake refreshed. During the first third of the night you will be in slow wave sleep which is where your body heals and grows. The last part of sleep is when you have your extended REM cycle, when you dream, this allows your brain to reboot. If you wake too early you miss out on the last REM or worse you will wake during it.
2. I need the television on to sleep. This one is so untrue it hurts. Television is actually designed to wake you up by using the flashing of light and dark. If you have a sleep disorder that causes you to wake during the night or that keeps you from maintaining sleep having the television on will keep you from returning to sleep. Again the light will stimulate you and keep you from going back to sleep. You do not need the television to go to sleep. You need a stronger sleep routine prior to going to bed so you can go to sleep faster. If you are waking during the night you should talk to your doctor because it may be a symptom of another issue that is not being treated.
3. If I stay up all night and cram for work, a test or anything I will do better. The truth is our minds move things from short term to long term memory when we sleep. So if you give up sleep you will not recall information as easily or as quickly. Also sleep deprivation causes issues such as poor memory recall and the inability to concentrate.
4. I can make up my missed sleep by sleeping in on the weekends or on weekdays. There is an element of truth to this but our body is not designed to constantly miss sleep and then make it up a week or two weeks later. Our body craves routine. This is why you should have the same bedtime every night. That does not mean you cannot go out once in a while but a routine of regular sleep is what will help you achieve optimal health.
5. Alcohol helps you to sleep better. Although a drink can help you to go to sleep faster over the night it will actually cause disruption of your sleep. Your body goes through a certain cycle of sleep and alcohol keeps the second half of the night from going the way it should. Instead you will have multiple awakenings and will not be able to go into dream stages properly. If you do drink you should stop three hours before going to bed so it will not affect your sleep.
Sleep is probably one of the easiest ways to help you be healthy. However if you do not take it seriously you can develop problems from sleep deprivation. Create your routine, go to bed at the same time each night and make sure you get enough sunlight in the morning and you will soon see that you will have more energy and a sharper mind.

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The Challenge of Proper CPAP Mask Choice

Posted by amykr on July 29, 2011

It is always a challenge when we have met a person for the first time and we ask a few questions and than we have to help them choose a mask that will work for him or her. This is a very interactive experience that can take a short period of time, or what usually happens is that it takes quite a bit of time making the decision. There are basically five ways to make this experience easier and more successful
1. You need to come in with your mind open. Many people go into the experience thinking they know what want in a mask. This may be because a friend has a CPAP and is successful with a mask they chose and so you figure it will work for you. It could also be because you went researching on the internet and thought the newest mask on their looked like something you want. The truth is that there are so many masks on the market because there are that many different needs for different people.
2. Claustrophobia does not mean that a smaller mask is a better mask. The fact is that nasal pillows and can sometimes feel stronger and make you feel more claustrophobic. A mask that allows you to breathe through your mouth may be more comfortable. There are masks on the market that do not block your line of vision and will make you feel more comfortable.
3. If you take steroids or blood thinners your skin will react differently to masks. Your skin will be more fragile. The person working with you needs to be aware of this so they can choose a mask that puts less pressure on the bridge of your nose. There are extra cushions if needed but the ideal is to find the right mask that does not put pressure on your face.
4. Do not be afraid to ask to try a different mask. You will be using this mask for a long period of time and you have the right to try as many masks as you want. You are not annoying the technologist. We would rather have someone tell us that there is a problem with the mask during the night than to find it out after the test when they cannot do anything about it.
5. If you think you will need time to get used to the mask and the therapy see if you can come in before the night of your study. In many labs they will have you come in for a PAP NAP during the day. They will allow you to trial masks and get used to the pressure during the day. It is a great opportunity to take your time and not feel the pressure of having to go to sleep on the machine right away.
CPAP therapy can help you to improve your health and allow you to feel more energetic. Being successful using the therapy requires that you find just the right mask whether it is a full face mask, nasal mask or nasal pillows. The goal is for you to find a mask that will allow you to sleep comfortably and breathe easily.

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Did Shaq Retire Because of Sleep Apnea?

Posted by amykr on June 5, 2011

Shaquille O’Neal recently let the world know he has sleep apnea. He shared his experience of testing and treating it with the world on You Tube. A month later he is announcing his retirement from professional sports. Is it possible that the long term effects of sleep apnea have caused him to feel he has come to the end of his career sooner than he could have? Did his poor sleep from traveling and changing time zones add to the problems he was already having?

Sleep is important to everyone but for an athlete it is an essential part of training. Getting slow wave sleep is where the body releases its growth hormone and heals itself. This deep sleep occurs during the first third of the night. If, like Shaq, you stop breathing 20-39 times an hour it becomes impossible for the body to reach this portion of sleep. Add to the inability the stress of his oxygen dropping throughout the night so he is unable to give enough oxygen to his muscles and you do not get fed. Finally add the stress all this lack of sleep on the body as a whole will keep his body from healing properly.

Shaq also lived a life that kept him from having good sleep hygiene. Traveling and the constant change of time would cause issues with his ability to go to sleep and wake up. The body works best when it has a routine and with constant changes not only of time but also the light that stimulates the brain to help regulate the body rhythm can make the brains ability to shut down difficult.

If Shaq had actually treated his sleep apnea earlier it might have helped improve his health significantly. As this stress works on the body it contributes to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and current research has even linked it to certain types of cancer. The body needs rest to recover and it needs rest to reboot our brain and help with our short term memory. When we do not get this solid rest we pay a price with out health. Although Shaq has played professional ball for 19 years he may have been able to go that 20th season if he had just rested a little better.

What lessons can we learn from this in our own lives? We should listen to our bodies. Snoring and fatigue are not normal. They are signs that should be listened to and discussed with your doctor. If you live alone and do not know if you snore but have other health issues such as high blood pressure or diabetes that are not improving even on medication you might want to ask your doctor about sleep apnea. You might also think that sleep apnea is just for those who are overweight, this is not the case. You can be any size or shape and have sleep apnea. It is more about how your airway is built then how much fat you carry on your body.

Overall sleep is important to your health and if you get a good night sleep each night you will find that your health and your energy levels should improve.

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Posted by amykr on February 16, 2011

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