Insomnia, Snoring, Sleep Apnea

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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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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.

Posted in cpap, health care, Sleep Apnea | 1 Comment »

CPAP Solutions for the Winter

Posted by amykr on December 10, 2010

If you wear a CPAP you might notice that this time of year you have more side effects. The cold dry weather and the increased time indoors can cause many side effects such a drying of the mouth and nose, congestion, sinus infections, and illness. It is important that if you are using your CPAP that you are comfortable all year so you have to consider the time of the year and make the changes you need.

The first problem is the dry air that occurs during the winter. This is true even if you have a humidifier in the house. Your humidifier is the best defense for this. Most humidifiers on CPAP machines have settings of 1 to 5 and are usually set to 1 or 2. The reason for the low setting is due to water accumulating in the tubing and mask. This problem can be reduced by making a sleeve for your tube. A nice piece of flannel and some seam glue is all you need. You want to turn it up high enough to make your airway comfortable.

One of the side effects of an overly dried airway is congestion. This is one of the easiest ways to tell if you need to increase the humidifier setting. If you are experiencing congestion you might also want to use a nasal saline spray before going to bed and then again when you wake up to help rehydrate your airway.

The other issue that really causes problems during the winter is colds and flu. Illnesses makes wearing your CPAP challenging. This is where owning two masks can come in handy. It helps to have a full face mask if you usually wear a nasal mask or nasal pillows. It is essential that you keep your mask, tubing and humidifier clean. Warm damp places are a great place for viruses and bacteria to grow. The best way to keep your equipment clean is to wash it with soap and water and then you can disinfect it with one part white vinegar and 3 parts water. Just soak them for 20 minutes then rinse very well so your equipment does not smell like salad dressing then allow your equipment to air dry.

If you try some of these ideas and they do not help you then go back to your doctor, sleep lab or DME company and ask for some help. Everyone wants you to succeed with your CPAP and they will be happy to help.

Posted in cpap, health care, Sleep | 2 Comments »

Should I Have a Home Sleep Study or Go to the Lab?

Posted by amykr on March 23, 2010

Technology has come a long was and studying sleep is no exception. We are now able to perform sleep studies in the home as well as the sleep lab. This is a great thing because it allows more people to be tested for sleep disorders then every before. The drawback is that there are limitations to what can be done in the home versus the lab.

In home sleep studies are generally modified unsupervised sleep studies. This means that the equipment is delivered to the patient and then they are responsible for applying it and taking it off. In some areas a technician will come out in the evening to apply the equipment and you will wear it the rest of the night, then you may have to take it off or the technician will come back in the morning and remove it. Generally these types of studies are limited in nature and only monitors certain parameters, oxygen level, heart rate, breathing, and whether you are awake or sleep and position. Because the study is limited it is designed strictly to diagnoses sleep apnea. Other conditions a person may have will not be diagnosed, such a periodic limb movement disorder and teeth grinding. This type of testing is also not good for patient with significant health issues such as congestive heart failure or COPD.

In lab testing has several differences. The first one is there is a technician there with you if any problems should arise. If one of the wires become dislodged it can be fixed right away. You do not need to have another study performed. The technician is also there to answer questions should you have any during the nights. The most important role of the technician, however, is that they can intervene if there is a significant health issue during the night. They can also do a special type of study called a split night, or combination study, which allows you to be diagnosed and treated for your sleep apnea on the same night. This way if you have severe sleep apnea you can be treated right away instead of waiting. You also are able to be evaluated for other conditions you may not know you had.

Treating sleep apnea after the home sleep study can occur in two different ways as well. You can be brought into the sleep lab for a titration study. During this test the technician finds a mask that works for you, educates you about CPAP and how it works and then finds the right pressure to eliminate most of the apneas and snoring. This test also allows the doctor to look for the other disorders such as periodic limb movements.

The other option for treatment is to have a homecare company deliver an auto-titrating CPAP. This machine is set to allow a range in pressure that adjusts as you have events during the night. The technician will fit you for a mask and then leave the machine for you to use. The drawback is that there is no one there during that first night to assist you if there is an issue. The other issue is that unless you call your doctor or the company that delivered the machine they may not be able to correct any problems that happen until they download the information in the CPAP memory.

Overall home sleep studies do have a place in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea. They are very good for diagnosing the straight forward sleep apnea patient. If, however, there is any issues that need to be addressed right away or if a person needs some assistance this may not be the best choice. A full sleep study allows for the possibility for quicker treatment and intervention. There is also the ability to diagnose other conditions that might go unnoticed in the home setting. That and the personal care involved in testing help to create a successful long term care situation.

Posted in cpap, health care, Sleep, Sleep Apnea | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Teens and Sleep; We Really Need to Rethink Expectation

Posted by amykr on March 12, 2010

An article was released about teens and the effects of caffeine and technology is having an effect of teens and their sleep. I know I live this issue daily. I have a teen son and a daughter who is just in her 20s. The problem is that we have not created a culture that supports teens and their needs.

This article was timely as this week my son took his yearly standardized tests. He has to get up at 6am to get ready for school so he can arrive just before 7am. He will then sit in the testing room he is assigned to and will take a test that will decide his future. Of course what they are not thinking about as these students enter the school is that more than half of the students walk on campus with an energy drink, diet soda or Starbucks in their hand. They are all yawning, dragging their feet and look like they could use two more hours of sleep. When they normally attend class at least 3-4 of the students will want to put their head down during at the very least 1 period. These are not fresh, excited students. These are sleep deprived people who our culture is trying to get to fit into a cheapest easiest way to give them an education. We have not created an education that is designed for them to become successful educated people that can perform at their optimum.

Add to this early more education some new parts to our culture. Their diets include processed food, chemical substances, and stimulants like caffeine. They are exposed to light 24 hours a day and their brains are stimulated from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. They are in the computer, playing video games or watching television. They have 2-3 hours of homework they need to do when they come home. They also have outside activities. Things like my son’s Boy Scout meeting will last from 7-10:30 at night. We have not set them up for optimal sleep we have set them up to be sleep deprived.

It is difficult to tell a 5’10” boy that it is bed time at 9 or 10 pm. The world has not stopped or even slowed down by then. He still has homework he wants to tweak, friends to chat with or challenge on a game, or just wants to watch a show he knows everyone will be talking about at school the next day. He gets tired around 11-12pm and is sound asleep no later than 1am. On the weekend he sleeps until 11am and sometimes a little longer. His friends are the same way.

I believe that we have to look at what our children need, how to create a healthy environment for them and then nurture that. Is sending our children to school at 7am really in their best interest? One of the local school districts changed the time for the high school children from 7 to 9. Next year they are changing it back because it interferes with after school work and activities. Did they even bother to look at the student’s attendance, grades or test results? They did not.

So what is the result of sleep deprivation with our teens? It is multifold, sleep deprivation can increase the incidence of depression, increase the symptoms of ADD, increase the chances of obesity. It interferes with learning and storing information into long-term memory.

Now we need to explain to our teens why a sleep routine, turning off all electronics and going to bed early I so important. We need to overcome peer pressure so that our children understand that this is the norm. We need to be examples for them. We need a very strong sleep routine that includes turning off the computer and the television. We need to make time for the family to sit and eat together and read together. These changes will help them during the tough teen years. We need to help them reach their true potential.


Posted in education, health care, insomnia, Sleep, Sleep Apnea | 1 Comment »

The Johnson and Johnson Recall Expands

Posted by amykr on January 20, 2010

Johnson and Johnson’s McNeil division is now expanding the recall to 9 products due to the musty or moldy odor that was reported. What was worse is that people started complaining as early as May 2008 about the problem but the company did little to investigate the problem.

When the FDA finished their inspection of their Mexico plant the FDA they had 7 point warning letter that they have 15 days to reply to.

The following are the main products to be recalled:
• Children’s Motrin
• Children’s Tylenol
• Extra Strength Tylenol
• Regular Strength Tylenol
• Tylenol 8 Hour
• Tylenol Arthritis
• Tylenol PM
• Benadryl
• Motrin IB
• Rolaids
• Simply Sleep
• St. Joseph Aspirin
If you want more information about this recall please check Or if you have questions you can call McNeil at 888-222-6036
The FDA has a webpage for reporting any adverse reaction to these medications at their MedWatch site.

Posted in health care, Medications | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Sleep and Quality of Life

Posted by amykr on January 19, 2010

Sleep may not seem productive because we believe we are not doing something we define as productive. Unfortunately, this belief causes many people to put sleep at the bottom of their priority list. Te long term effects of sleep deprivation will keep you from having a quality of life you have always wanted. Sleep. If you want to have energy and clear thought then you really need to consider your length and quality of sleep.

Sleeping is a personal need. For most adults between 7 and 8 hours is the average amount needed. This is an average and there are people who need a little more or a little less. of course when we are children and even teenagers we need more sleep. When we get older we may need less sleep, but contrary to popular opinion older people do need between 6 and 8 hours of sleep.

Sleep time allows two important processes to happen. It allows us to process our thoughts and move them from short term to long term memory, and it allows our body to heal itself. These two processes are so important especially as we grow older.

How do we achieve a good night sleep? You need to put it on your to do list. If you make sleep a priority, set that absolute bedtime, make sure you are creating a routine to help; it will help to make life more energetic. Creating the best sleep environment will help to get the most of this time of day.

At the end of the day it is important for you to take advantage of these 7 hours a day of good healthy sleep to allow you to really enjoy the rest of the day. Your quality of life depends on your quality of sleep.

Posted in health care, Sleep | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

New Years Gives You a New Chance for Better Health

Posted by amykr on December 31, 2009

As the year ends we know that some very notable people have had health issues the last couple of weeks. Britney Murphy died after a short unidentified illness, Rush Limbaugh was rushed to the hospital after experiencing chest pain and Urban Meyer has taken an indefinite leave from coaching after two health emergencies. This time of year reminds us that our health is our most important asset and should be treated as such. Here are a few things you can do that might help.

Have your yearly physical. Many people feel they should only see the doctor if they are feeling sick. If you value your health and your pocketbook then spending a little wellness time with your doctor is worth it. Your physician will know what tests you need yearly. They may also see something you may miss such as mole that might look a little strange or a change in your skin tone. If you do not have insurance consider taking advantage of the Seminole and Orange County Health Department or Apopka Family Medicine, these facilities can help you find affordable health care and inoculations for your children.

Invest in exercise. You do not need to join a gym. If you are looking for information about exercise there are some great places for free to learn more about it. and are both free and have experts who give information on work outs. If you are looking for people to walk or exercise with try They have many different groups and if you can not find one you want you can always start one.

Educate yourself. There are many great websites our there., and are great sources for information from many different professionals. If you have questions it is always good to ask your healthcare professional, if they are unavailable a website where professionals are sharing information are great places to find generic information about medications, tests or conditions. Your local hospital also has educational classes throughout the year. Just give a call and ask for the community education department.

Create a healthy eating plan. This is one place where the internet excels and where it fails. There are more sites about eating, diet and food then just about anything else. The trick is to find the healthy information that does not cost you anything. has their yearly National Body Challenge that is free and has several perks including 14 day pass to Bally’s Health Club. has a custom food plan that is free as well. also has a food planner and program. All of these plans are based on a health balance food plan of 1200 to 1800 calories depending on the site.

This is just a starting point for the New Year. Each person has their own ideas about what they need to create a healthy and successful life. Just remember that the time spent being healthy will pay you back in ways you would not suspect.

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Light Therapy as an Option for Depression and SAD

Posted by amykr on December 30, 2009

Many people are looking toward ways of treating health issues without taking medication. One of more interesting alternatives to people with depression or rhythm disorders is light therapy. This therapy is not for everyone, but it gives an option to people with seasonal affective disorder, shift workers and those who might need to try different therapies in addition to traditional therapy.

Recently studies on the effects of Light Therapy have gotten a little more support. It is showing that light may have an effect on melatonin production, serotonin production and circadian rhythms. The idea is that you mimic sunlight and keep your body on the same rhythm all year long.

The first therapy is a dawn simulator that allows a person to wake up as the light gets more intense. It is a much gentler form of waking and the simulation is similar to summer light. This might help those who have a issues with the winter’s weaker light and shorter days. The idea of a gentler way to wake up also may help start the day in a calmer manner. There is very little in the way of studies for this type of therapy, however since the lights are inexpensive and there is no evidence that they are have any adverse effects.

The other source is a light box. There are several types of these including white light boxes, blue light boxes and green light boxes. The most popular currently are white and blue light. They are used in the morning based on your body’s Melatonin cycle to help to regulate your body’s Circadian rhythm. The most recent studies have found that the blue light works as well as the white light but is much smaller and portable. These lights should be up above your head for your eyes to process it properly. It should be used for 30-60 minutes depending on what is recommended for you.

There are some potential side effects to this type of therapy. You should not look into the light and it has been associated with Macular Degeneration. You can also have too much exposure which can cause mania in some people, especially those with Manic Depression.

The idea of using light to treat depression has not been pursued by many researchers currently. There are some small studies that have been shown that this can be a very effective treatment for depression. It is also a good choice for those who wish to try other therapies before trying medication. There are small, inexpensive boxes available online. Like all therapies you should discuss this with your physician or therapist before trying it.

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Chest Pain; Why It Should Not Be Ignored

Posted by amykr on December 30, 2009

Urban Meyer has taken a leave from coaching the Florida Gators due to chest pains he had experienced earlier this month. He was wise and went to the hospital, where test were performed and it was determined that no permanent muscle damage was done. This is an example of why it is important that immediate care is so important in this situation.

Although the reason for Coach Meyer’s chest pain were not disclosed, his reaction to it is very important. Immediate care is essential as it can help minimize damage if a person is having a heart attack. The problem is many people, especially during the holiday season put off care until it is too late. They either believe that it will go away or they do not want to disturb the holiday and wait.

The question then becomes when you should seek help and when you should wait. The symptoms of a heart attack are not just chest pain but including many other symptoms including, abdominal pain, upper body pain including jaw pain and arm pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, shortness of breath, lightheadedness and sweating. If you experience these symptoms for longer then a few minutes then you should seek help. Waiting for the symptoms to go away will only lead to a more severe outcome.

Treatment and testing at the hospital will help to get a correct diagnosis. Even if it is not a heart attack, these symptoms can be telling you that there is something wrong and you need to take care of it. Stress and other issues can lead to more serious conditions over the long term. Ultimately it is timely care that will allow for a long and healthy life.

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