Insomnia, Snoring, Sleep Apnea

The world and life of a sleep tech

Posted by amykr on February 16, 2011

We have been included in the list of 40 best blogs for people with insomnia.

http://ping.fm/l3aaA

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5 Reasons Why People Fail at Using CPAP

Posted by amykr on February 15, 2011

CPAP therapy is considered the gold standard for treating sleep apnea. It is a machine that uses a mask of some type to deliver a specific pressure of air to help keep the airway open. The problem with CPAP therapy is that it does take getting used to in order to be successful in using it nightly. There are some very specific reasons that people fail to be able to adjust to it and there a definitely ways to overcome these obstacles to be successful and feel better.

1. There is a lack of communication. Many patients are afraid they are disturbing someone if they call when they are having issues with their CPAP. The truth is that if you want to be successful using your machine you need to communicate your issues with a professional. Depending on who you are working with you should call your doctor, the company that set up the machine or the sleep lab who performed your study. There can be many issues but if no one knows you are having problems then the problem can not be fixed.
2. You have the wrong mask. If you had a sleep study where they fit you with a mask you must remember that you were only there for a short time. A mask might seem right during the study but may not fit as well at home. You may also find that although the mask is good the first couple of night after wearing it for a week it may not be as comfortable. In most cases insurance will pay for a change of mask during the first 2-4 weeks after your machine is delivered. This may not be true for those who have an HMO where the insurance company may dictate which mask you are given. In those cases it may benefit you to purchase a mask that might fit you better. It may cost you but it will be worth it in the end. Also those who have sensitive spots from the mask may benefit from having two masks to rotate through to change the pressure point.
3. You do not use the humidifier. Many patients think that the humidifier is an optional piece of equipment but it is not. It is essential that you use the humidifier and that you set it to the appropriate setting. In the winter you will need more humidification then during the summer due to the air being dryer. If you do not get enough humidity you will find your mouth, nose and sinuses will get sore, swollen. You may also find that you will develop a stuffy nose due to the welling of the nasal tissue and the increase of mucus being secreted to deal with it.
4. The pressure is too high or too low. The goal of the sleep lab is to find the lowest pressure needed to eliminate most of your respiratory events. However, just because they achieved a final pressure does not mean that it is the best pressure for you. Remember you are only in the sleep lab for one night and it is not the optimal sleep conditions. You are wearing wires, sleeping in a strange bed and it is usually the first time you have ever tried on a CPAP mask. The pressure achieved may be a little high or a little low. It may be that you need a higher pressure then you can handle. No matter what the issue there are certain procedures that must be followed before lowering the pressure. You will probably be asked to try a different mask. This is to see if the issue is not pressure but comfort. You may then have to see the sleep specialist before he is willing to turn you pressure down. This is because he is ultimately responsible for making sure your care is the best you can receive.
5. You did not give yourself enough time. This is long term therapy. That means you will be using this equipment for a long time. So give yourself a little time to get used to it. For the first few days if you feel uncomfortable wearing it at night. Put it on while you are sitting in your recliner in the living room. Wear it for about an hour. Get used to it. Then increase your time wearing it. Usually be the end of the first one or two weeks you should be ready to sleep with it.

CPAP therapy is an important part of keeping you healthy if you have sleep apnea. Giving up before you give the therapy some time will do nothing to improve your health and in the long run can have very serious consequences. Remember your doctor and the people who have worked with you want you to be successful.

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Sleep should be on Your List of Resolutions

Posted by amykr on December 30, 2010

It is a new year and with it people are making all resolutions to improve their health and daily life. This may be the one aspect of a healthy lifestyle that is overlooked. There is new research every day that shows how sleep affects your health. It is also known that sleep deprivation can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, memory loss and increase in pain.

When you are looking to change your sleep habits there are usually two things that we look at. The durations of sleep and our bedtime routine to help shorten the time it takes to fall asleep. Depending on what issues you have the solutions are fairly similar.

Normal sleep length is anywhere from 6-8 hours. It depends on your age and your specific body needs. If you have a teen or child who also needs help with sleep they will need more sleep teens need anywhere between 8-9 hours of sleep and children will need more and regular naps.

Creating a strong sleep routine is the best step to help you fall asleep quickly. There are a few steps to creating a strong sleep routine:
• Choose a constant bedtime; Your body does not know the difference between weekdays and weekends and so the time you go to bed and get up should be about the same every day. This does not mean you can not go out and part on Friday night or sleep in on Sunday morning but you do need to be aware that there may be difficulties in going to sleep or getting up the next day.
• Create a comfortable sleep environment; Your bedroom should be a place where you sleep and be intimate and should not be used for work or studying for school. There should be little clutter as that can distract you or add stress when you are trying to relax and go to sleep.
• Do a quiet activity 20-40 minutes; Reading, praying or meditating are excellent quiet activities to do before you go to sleep. Activities like watching television and working on your computer are not relaxing activities because the lights and the activity are stimulating and although you are not moving you mind is.
• Exercise in the morning; a little activity first thing in the morning will help to get your body and your mind going. This helps to keep your body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm on the 24 hours cycle you want it.

Sleep is one of the easiest changes you can make that can have a profound affect on your health. A good night’s sleep of 6-8 hours every night will help you feel better, stay healthier, increase your memory and may even help you to lose weight.

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Support Is the Key to CPAP Success

Posted by amykr on December 16, 2010

If you are just starting out as a new CPAP user you will find that a little support goes a long way. Family support is important but it is support from other users that will truly allow you to find what will work for you. The problem is that most physician’s offices and DME companies do not tell you where to find support. But if you look online and in your community there are some great support groups.

Local Support Groups
The American Sleep Association is an excellent resource for finding local support groups. They are the association that started the A.W.A.K.E. groups. They have even started on online meeting for truck drivers since they have unique issues such as repeated testing and traveling with their machine. Their website sleepapnea.org also has up to date research, and an online forum to have questions answered. If there is not a support group near you then they will help you start one up.

Online Support Groups
Talkaboutsleep.com was started by a sleep apnea patient who felt she needed more support. The site has a chat room, message board and strong basic information about sleep disorders. The most interesting part of the site is the reviews of equipment and the comparisons of the masks. Once a quarter they will trial two similar masks from different manufacturers. They send samples to members to trial and then review. This gives people the opportunity to hear what actual patients think of new masks when they come out. They also have an excellent store to buy masks and accessories for your machine.

Sleepguide.com is a message board for sleep patients. There are patients and health care professionals who frequent the site and answer each others questions. You will find many opinions from different sources.

Physician Sites
DrStevenPark.com is a great resource. He has monthly webinar that answers pre-submitted questions on CPAP and sleep disorders. His site has interviews with other healthcare professionals and medical articles. He also has a book for sale called Sleep Interrupted.

About.com has a page on sleep disorders that is written by Dr. Brandon Peters. He has a weekly newsletter that covers basic topics such as what is sleep apnea and new treatment options. Everything he has written is archived on the website so you are able to look up specific topics or disorders. This site covers many sleep disorders including Restless Leg Syndrome, REM Behavior Disorder ad Sleep Talking to name a few.

Seeking Help is the Key
If you are starting out with CPAP these sites and groups will help you to understand you are not alone. It will also help you to overcome problems that might arise while you get used to the new therapy. The more educated you are about your disorder and the more support you seek the more successful you will be.

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Posted by amykr on December 16, 2010

Updated Blog post on support groups for sleep apnea patients
http://ping.fm/BaQQF

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Support Is the Key to CPAP Success

Posted by amykr on December 11, 2010

If you are just starting out as a new CPAP user you will find that a little support goes a long way. Family support is important but it is support from other users that will truly allow you to find what will work for you. The problem is that most physician’s offices and DME companies do not tell you where to find support. But if you look online and in your community there are some great support groups.

Local Support Groups
The American Sleep Association is an excellent resource for finding local support groups. They are the association that started the A.W.A.K.E. groups. They have even started on online meeting for truck drivers since they have unique issues such as repeated testing and traveling with their machine. Their website sleepapnea.org also has up to date research, and an online forum to have questions answered. If there is not a support group near you then they will help you start one up.

Online Support Groups
Talkaboutsleep.com was started by a sleep apnea patient who felt she needed more support. The site has a chat room, message board and strong basic information about sleep disorders. The most interesting part of the site is the reviews of equipment and the comparisons of the masks. Once a quarter they will trial two similar masks from different manufacturers. They send samples to members to trial and then review. This gives people the opportunity to hear what actual patients think of new masks when they come out. They also have an excellent store to buy masks and accessories for your machine.

Sleepguide.com is a message board for sleep patients. There are patients and health care professionals who frequent the site and answer each others questions. You will find many opinions from different sources.

Physician Sites
DrStevenPark.com is a great resource. He has monthly webinar that answers pre-submitted questions on CPAP and sleep disorders. His site has interviews with other healthcare professionals and medical articles. He also has a book for sale called Sleep Interrupted.

About.com has a page on sleep disorders that is written by Dr. Brandon Peters. He has a weekly newsletter that covers basic topics such as what is sleep apnea and new treatment options. Everything he has written is archived on the website so you are able to look up specific topics or disorders. This site covers many sleep disorders including Restless Leg Syndrome, REM Behavior Disorder ad Sleep Talking to name a few.

Seeking Help is the Key
If you are starting out with CPAP these sites and groups will help you to understand you are not alone. It will also help you to overcome problems that might arise while you get used to the new therapy. The more educated you are about your disorder and the more support you seek the more successful you will be.

Posted in cpap, education, Sleep, Sleep Apnea | Leave a Comment »

Sorry Dear I have a Headache; sleep and morning headaches

Posted by amykr on December 11, 2010

You wake up with the nagging pain, difficulty concentrating and wishing you could just go back to bed and pull the covers over your head. If this happens on a regular basis there may be more going on then a hatred of mornings. Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation can have a serous effect on your waking hours.

One of the symptoms of sleep apnea is a morning headache. It is an effect of several things happing during the night. Sleep apnea causes multiple arousals during the night which keeps you from getting a restful sleep as well as going into the deeper slow wave sleep which where your body heals itself. Each time someone with sleep apnea stops breathing it causes an increase in pressure in the chest that can effect the entire body and lead to high blood pressure. Your oxygen levels also fall depriving your body and brain of oxygen. This can definitely lead to that morning headache.

Sleep deprivation can also lead to that foggy feeling when you get up in the morning. This could be due to routinely getting poor sleep. If you change your bedtime frequently your body can become confused and cause disrupted sleep or insomnia. Your pets can be another disturbance. Pets tend to move around during the night and they wake you during the night. But the worst culprit of a restful sleep is light and sleep; this can come from the TV, computer or outside. You can not sleep restfully with light and sound disturbing you. Lack of continuous sleep on a regular basis will bring on difficulty with short term memory, concentration and morning headaches.

One of the best ways to look at what you might be doing that could be contributing to your morning headache is to keep a sleep diary for two weeks. It should have the time you went to bed, the time you woke up, how many times you think you woke during the day, what medications your took before bed, how much caffeine you consumed during the day and any unusual activities or exercising you may have done that day like shoveling snow, going to the gym or staying in bed because you were ill. Since we are looking for reasons you have a morning headache you should document what mornings you woke up with one. If you do not find a correlation between any type of behavior and the morning headache you should bring your sleep diary with you when you go to your doctor to discuss treatment for those morning headaches.

Just remember that a morning headache more then 2 times a week for more then a couple of weeks are not normal and you should not suffer with the problem.

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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 »

Posted by amykr on June 9, 2010

Are you traveling this summer and use CPAP. Here are a few travel tips. http://ping.fm/Dkhey

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Traveling with your CPAP or BIPAP

Posted by amykr on June 9, 2010

With the increase in the ability to diagnose and treat obstructive sleep apnea a new group of issues have come into play for many people. It is time to take the family vacation or on a business trip and you wonder do you have to bring this machine with you? If you do what do you need to know to make traveling with it easier?

The first question of whether or not you need to bring it with you is relatively easy to answer. CPAP and BIPAP do not cure sleep apnea they treat it. Just like medication, you should not stop using it without a doctor’s order. As soon as you stop using it your symptoms will reappear. Keep in mind that the fatigue which may have brought you to the sleep lab may not come back quickly because you are no as sleep deprived as you were before you were treated. However, the issues of low oxygen levels and the fact that you stop breathing and your snoring will come back when you do not use your therapy. If you are sharing a room, this can be quite troublesome for yourself or your room mates.

When packing up your PAP machine there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is that it is important that you empty the humidifier. Many people forget this step and upon arriving at their destination they find a waterlogged machine. If the humidifier is separate from the machine you should still take it with you. Nasal congestion can be a problem when you travel and the humidifier will help to limit issues you might have with congestion and drying of the mouth and nose.

When you are flying it is essential that your machine be a carry on. The change in pressure in the baggage compartment is not healthy for your machine. With most airlines, because it is medical equipment, it will not count as your one carry on luggage. You should have no problem making it through security because they are quite familiar with CPAP machines. Just take it out of the carry on case like you would a computer. In some airlines if you are taking a long flight and you are traveling first class or business class there may be electrical plugs that you can plug your machine in and wear if you plan on sleeping.

If you are traveling to a high altitude some of the older CPAP machines have an adjustment that you can set to deal with the change in pressure. Other machines have internal sensors that will make this adjustment for you.

Camping with your machine may be one of the most interesting issues that you may to deal with. If the campground has electricity then this is not an issue. If you are going to be somewhere a little more rural and you camp on a regular basis you might want to look at a machine that has a back up battery pack for it.

It is always important to enjoy yourself when you are taking a vacation. If you do not sleep well then you may miss out on the enjoyment of your trip. With a small amount of planning using you CPAP will allow you and your family or friends to be well rested for the next day’s activities.

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