Insomnia, Snoring, Sleep Apnea

The world and life of a sleep tech

Posts Tagged ‘fatigue’

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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When to Question a Snore

Posted by amykr on March 3, 2010

Your wife or husband tell you they need to go to bed before you or they will never sleep. You know if you are going on a trip you can not share a room with anyone else because they will complain. Do you know when a snore is something you need help for or just annoying?

The fact is that no matter what a snore is not normal. If you snore there is something in your anatomy that says you need to have it evaluated. It may be just that you have a large uvula that vibrates when you breath at night. It could also mean you have sleep apnea, a condition where you stop breathing or breathing is partially obstructed and your oxygen levels in your blood drop.

If you have plain snoring this can be treated with several medical treatments including medications, surgery, or an oral appliance. You might also benefit from positional therapy. This is where you avoid sleeping on your back. You can use a special pillow or other device. My personal favorite is to take a t-shirt, sew or glue a pocket down the center of the back of the shirt and place 3 tennis balls into the pocket then close it. Every time the person rolls onto their back they become uncomfortable and roll to their side.

If you are not sure if you might have sleep apnea take the Sleep Quiz. If you have a score of 9 or greater than it is time to speak with your physician. Sleep apnea is important to treat because sleep apnea can contribute to many health issues including depression, high blood pressure and diabetes.

If your child is a snorer you should take the time to talk to his or her pediatrician. Sleep disorders can very easily be disguised as irritability, short attention span and can lead to other health problems. It can be caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids. It can also be caused by a small airway. The current research is discussion new medication treatments to help children.

No matter who in the family is snoring it is something that is not normal. It is something that should be evaluated by a professional. If they can sleep quieter than everyone will get a better night sleep.

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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.

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Why is He Here?

Posted by amykr on May 6, 2009

I love my patients, but I have to admit there are some patients that make this job more challenging. They are not the patients with severe apnea or the patients who do not believe they have apnea; They are the patients who do not have anything.

You know the ones I am referring to: you put them to bed, you read their questionnaire, and you expect to see an AHI of at least 15 events per hour. Then it is 1 a.m. and you hear nothing. Not a snore, not a gasp, nothing. You look at the study and they have had plenty of stage 3 and REM already. You look to see if maybe they had not done any sleeping on their back. Nope, they have been asleep on their back the whole time.

When you talk to them the next morning you get one of two responses. My favorite is “This is the best night sleep I have had in years.” The other type of patient is convinced he did not sleep.

We had the former patient in our lab last week. He teaches college. He scores papers on his laptop in his bed until 1 in the morning, most nights. His wife complains that he snores but he says she snores as well. The best part was when I handed him the sleep hygiene tips sheet. He said I left one item off the sheet. He informed me that he slept with his two children in bed with him. Now I was standing there trying to figure out how he did not tell his doc this before the doc sent him to the sleep lab.

I do not know about you, but if I stayed up until 1 a.m. every morning, had two squirming children in bed with me every night, and taught college all day, I would be exhausted.

So what do we learn from this patient? That every once in a while it is nice to have an easy patient.

Oh yeah, and if he even remotely looks young enough to have kids, ask if they have their own room.
Reprinted for

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Lack of zzzzzz can cause achoooo

Posted by amykr on January 23, 2009

In today’ society we thing that the more we do the more successful we are.  Many times this idea pertains to everything but our health.  We run around perpetually sleep deprived and it is taking a toll.  Our bodies are not working optimally and we increase our susceptibility to many virus and germ.  The common cold is the biggest culprit of the wait and attack the week method of germ patrol.


When we are sleep deprived we release hormones that increase inflammation throughout out body.  We also decrease the production of antibodies to fight disease.  So what does this mean?  You wake up at 6am after going to bed at midnight for the third straight day.  Your head is a little foggy, and your joints hurt just a bit more then usual.  You go about your day the way you normally do but you feel yourself dragging just that little bit.  Just enough that when you get home all you want to do is veg out in front of the tv and do nothing.  Unfortunately, during the day someone on your office who did not have enough vacation time came in sneezing and sniffing and coughing.  You did your best to steer clear of them but you needed a file from their desk.  Well you were just exposed to the rhinovirus and that little guy just love us overworked people because that means he has a new place to call home.  Our bodies do not have the strong defenses needed to fight him off.  So for the next eight to ten days you feel terrible.  But you compound that problem because you still do not give your body the rest it needs to fight our friend the rhinovirus so he hangs on for an extra day or two. 


We have to remember that we need to take care of ourselves first.  That includes forgoing the evening news or Jay Leno sometimes if we know we have not gotten the rest we need.  This is especially true during this cold weather when everyone is inside and all the windows are closed.  This just makes it that much easier to share our germs.  So I challenge you during this cold weather to try and get at least 1 hour extra sleep every other day.  You will feel better and your body will thank you.  

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Extra Side Effect of One New Years Resolution

Posted by amykr on January 2, 2009

Many people suffer from insomnia. We work hard, relax little and suffer from input overload. As woman we also suffer from hormonal changes that can increase insomnia. What can you do about this if we do not wish to take medications?

One New Years resolutions that might be able to help is exercising. There are some rules thought. It works best in the morning according to Dr. Youngstedt’s research at University of California at San Diego. He found that it can help regulate the body’s internal clock also know as circadian rhythm based on when you do your exercise. That outdoor exercise has the added effect of light exposure which helps to regulate this rhythm as well. He also recommends that people with insomnia try exercising different times of the day as some people it does help to exercise in the evening.

Since many of us commit to exercise as part of the New Year it might help to try exercising in outdoor light, do small intervals throughout the day or to experiment with the time you exercise as a way for you to improve you sleep.

I hope you are having a great and productive New Year.

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TV and the Cure for Snoring

Posted by amykr on December 27, 2008

 You see them on television and read about them in magazines.  They cost anywhere from $30 to a bed that cost $1000+ Do they really work?  Are they worth the money?

Well it depends on what you are thinking of getting.  I will start with some of the ones that make us laugh in the sleep lab and move on from there.  There are several sprays on the market that say they will fix snoring.  Well they do lubricate the back of the throat so they may reduce snoring a little bit at the beginning of the night if your snoring is caused by too small an airway in the back of the throat, but if your snoring is caused by anything else it does nothing.  The same goes for the strips  you put on your nose.  Snoring generally does nto come from your nose so a piece of tape and plastic is just not going to fix snoring or sleep apnea. 

Now there are several t shirts out there that help you stay off your back.  If you have positional snoring or apnea these do work.  But it would be cheaper to take an old t shirt sew a pocket down the center of it and put some tennis balls in it.  This is to train someone not to sleep on their back and it works well.

There are mouth pieces.  A good one is fitted by a dentist and will run about $300-$500 but it is custom made for you and will keep your airway open.  The ones you see on television might work or they might not it depends on what is causing the snoring and if you have TMJ it could agrivate it. 

There are also pillows out there that will help with positioning.  They have a tendency to be pricey and some of them are quite uncomfortable.  So consider that before your buy it.

The last thing is the beds that adjust.  If you elevate your head you are likely to find a position that will eliminate your snoring.  It works but again buying a bed is a very costly investment.

If you do snore or you snore and gasp the best thing to do is chat with your primary care physician about the problem.  There are several things that can cause snoring and yrou doctor will be able to help you to find the right answer for you.

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Snoring and a Restful Sleep

Posted by amykr on December 22, 2008

With greater research going on we are finding new reasons why people are tired during the day.  A research study was publish in the Chest magazine compared daytime sleepiness in snoring patients as it related to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.  The findings were not necessarily what were expected.


The conclusion was that snoring independently affects daytime sleepiness and was not related to sleep apnea.  What does this mean?  It can mean many things.  It can mean that snoring itself needs to be taken seriously as it can cause an increase in the level of fatigue a person feels.   When a person experiences increased fatigue the chances of a work related accident or car accident will happen.  There is still the chance that the person has sleep apnea which has its own set of issues.  And finally the feeling of well being overall is very important and the need for a good nights sleep is necessary.


If you find that you are snoring take an Epworth test.  It will give you a good idea how tired you are and if you need to talk to your physician about sleep.



Sleep Disorder Screening Questionnaire


Please complete and return to your physician


Name:________________________________                     Date:_______



How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations?


0 = would never doze

1 = slight chance of dozing

2 = moderate chance of dozing

3 = high chance of dozing


Circle the appropriate number


Chance of dozing

Sitting and reading

     0    1      2       3

Watching TV

     0    1      2       3

Sitting, inactive in a public place (e.g., a theater or meeting)

     0    1      2       3

As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break

     0    1      2       3

Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit

     0    1      2       3

Sitting and talking to someone

     0    1      2       3

Sitting quietly after lunch, without alcohol

     0    1      2       3

In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in traffic

     0    1      2       3


                                                                                             Total from above: _____ (>9?)



Do you often feel sleepy during the daytime?                  Yes     No


Do you snore, or has anyone ever told you that you snore?         Yes     No


Has anyone ever told you that you stop breathing during sleep? Yes     No


Do you ever have a choking or gasping sensation during sleep? Yes     No


Do your legs ‘kick’ during sleep?                                               Yes    No



Return form to your physician





Malin Svensson, MD, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Akademiska sjukhuset, SE 751 85 Uppsala, Sweden;.  2008;134(5):919-924.  ©2008 American College of Chest Physicians

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