Insomnia, Snoring, Sleep Apnea

The world and life of a sleep tech

Posts Tagged ‘Sleep’

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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That Stuffy Spring Nose Can Rob You of Sleep

Posted by amykr on April 6, 2012

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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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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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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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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5 Resolutions for a Better Night Sleep

Posted by amykr on December 22, 2009

We all make resolutions for the New Year. And some of them are large and ambitious and some are small and practical. These are five easy changes that will help you to improve your sleep and wake up with more energy every day.

1.Turn off the television: Too many people are watching television in bed or falling asleep with it on. They think it helps them to fall asleep, but it does not. It disrupts your sleep. Not just the noise but the light. This flashing light keeps you from going into the deeper slow wave sleep that your body needs to recover and heal itself. There have also been recent research that shows a relationship between poor initial sleep and depression. That is why there should not be a television in the bedroom.
2.Turn off the lights: Don’t just turn off the lights but invest in a good pair of curtains that keeps the light from entering the room. Your body needs to dark to work properly. It was designed to enter a cycle called your circadian rhythm that allows you to function optimally during the day and to sleep at night. If you do not expose your body to the dark how will it know when it is supposed to be asleep? New research is also associating the relationship between not sleeping in the dark and depression.
3.Get rid of the clutter: Clutter in the room clutters the mind. It is very hard to relax and get comfortable in a room that is full of things. The New Year is a great time to purge some of the stuff that has been hanging around your bedroom. Use the rule that if you have not used it in 6 months you probably won’t use it in the next 6 months. A bedroom should be a peaceful place to relax and go to sleep. It should not be a place where you enter it and think I have a 100 things to do in the next 10 minutes.
4.Invest in a New Pillow: There are many new pillows out there. Pillows usually last 6 to 8 months. Many people keep them much longer. If you think about it, you use this every day. Eventually the pressure from sleeping on it will wear it out. The cost of a good pillow based on your sleep position usually costs $40-$80. This is a small investment for a better night sleep. Make sure you find one you like. Try it out. Make sure you like it. If you need to invest in a cover for it. In some areas bed bugs are an issue. A hypoallergenic cover will help reduce the risk of this issue.
5.Create a night time routine: This one is free and easy to do and will make a world of difference to you and to your children. It should not be a long routine, but it should be something that you could recreate if you are on vacation. It should involve decreasing light exposure. A sample routine we use is 10 minutes of reading, followed by brushing teeth, washing face and brushing our hair. We then go into the bedroom turn off all electronics, and talking quietly about our day. Then we are off to sleep. While you are creating the routine you might find you do not go to sleep right away. If this happens wait 20 minutes, get up our of bed, do something quietly like read for 10-15 minutes then trying to go to sleep again. Staying in bed and staring at the ceiling will only create stress. Do not turn on the television or computer because they can be too stimulating and the light will give your brain the wrong signals. If you keep this up every day at approximately the same time you will find falling asleep will become much easier.
A good night sleep is so important for good health. It contributes to weight loss, pain management, and blood pressure management to just name three things. The small investment in changing behavior can lead to big results for you and your family.

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Sleep Studies do More Then Listen to Snores

Posted by amykr on August 4, 2009

Many people go to the doctor because they have something they want fixed. They expect that a pill will do the trick. What they do not think about is what caused the problem in the first place. It is this search for the reason for problems that send many to the sleep lab for a study.
The obvious patient is the one who snores, gasps and wakes their spouse during the night. We all know or are related to this patient. Uncle Harry fall asleep in the recliner Thanksgiving afternoon, snore louder and louder, suddenly stops and then wake up snorting and gasping just to fall back to sleep again. He also has other health issues.
Then there is the overweight person. However, there weight is actually not what sends them to the sleep lab. It is other symptoms they might have that send them in to the lab. Hypersomnia, or difficulty staying awake, is usually the symptom that sends them to see how they are sleeping at night.
The people who have high blood pressure that is hard to control or unexpected can also send a person to a sleep study. If a person has sleep apnea, every time they stop breathing they put stress on their body and their heart. Eventually this stress can show up as high blood pressure, especially in the morning. Many times this type of blood pressure issue is difficult to control with medication. It is necessary to treat the cause of the issue, the apnea, in order to get the blood pressure under control.
The same problem with blood pressure can show up as uncontrolled blood sugars as well. The stress on the body caused by apnea can cause increases in blood sugars. This is especially true if a person tends to wake with higher then expected blood sugars on a regular basis. The body does not deal well with this type of repeated stress.
There are other conditions that will send a person for a sleep study. If a person has a history of moving around during their sleep especially while dreaming they may come in for a sleep study. That could be a symptom of several different conditions. The only way to diagnose what type of problem they have is through observation and testing.
People with congestive heart, head injuries and neuromuscular conditions may have sleep studies performed to assure that they are breathing well and getting enough oxygen in their sleep. This is so important to the quality of their daily life.
If your doctor orders a sleep study and you are not sure why, ask him or her. There is a good reason it is ordered. If you decide not to have the study your doctor may not be able to fully treat you. Treating a sleep disorder may help you to feel better and feel healthier over the long run.

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