Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired, even after a full night’s sleep, you may have sleep apnea.
There are two types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The more common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs when the throat muscles relax. It is an anatomical and neurological problem. During sleep, your airway collapses and blocks air from passing through. Some sleep apnea patients may gasp, snore or choke. Some are completely silent. Not all people who have sleep apnea snore. Not all people who snore have sleep apnea.
Central Sleep Apnea
The lesser common form of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, occurs when the brain fails to send important signals to the breathing muscles during sleep. Your body essentially “forgets to breathe”.
What are the effects?
This roller coaster sleep pattern leads to a loss of energy, concentration, productivity and an inability to stay awake during less active tasks. This may include reading, watching television and driving. In severe cases, the continuous oxygen deprivation caused by sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and even sudden death. There may be a genetic component to this disorder as it often occurs within families.
Can Sleep Apnea Be Resolved
Generally, in cases of very mild sleep apnea, symptoms have been resolved with weight loss, a reduction of alcohol intake, or a change in sleep position. Sleep experts suggest that most people with sleep apnea should not sleep on their backs, but instead on their left side.
In more serious cases, oral appliance therapy which repositions the lower jaw and the tongue are very helpful to many patients and also those whose only problem is disruptive snoring. These devices gently keep your jaw forward during sleep to open your airway. For the vast majority of patients, the oral appliances are far more comfortable than CPAP therapy. In fact, experience shows that 83% of patients who try oral appliance therapy sleep comfortably for an average of almost 7 hours per night.
CPAP machines offer continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) through a mask. Although this treatment helps many people, some cannot tolerate this method and may benefit from oral devices.
Many people benefit from combination therapy; the use of an oral appliance and the CPAP machine.
The sleep loss some people willingly subject themselves to is doing the exact opposite of helping them gain an academic “edge,” and is in no way beneficial for stress management (NaturalHealth365) Calling all students, board executives, parents with busy families, or any other hard-working individuals: pulling all-nighters is officially no longer something to brag about!
Case in point? Research from institutions like Texas A&M College of Medicine and St. Lawrence University finds that consistently pulling all-nighters is associated with a lower grade point average – in addition to increased anxiety, impaired performance, and a myriad of other problems.
Pulling all-nighters will lower your grade point average and increase the risk of weight gain
Poor grades and a low-grade point average (GPA) can be big issues, but they’re certainly not the only ones caused by staying up all night. According to research, pulling all-nighters or consistently getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night increases the risk of other serious and undesirable health consequences, including:
Depression and anxiety (even just one sleepless night can raise anxiety levels by as much as 30%, according to a recent study from the University of California Berkeley published in Nature Human Behavior)
Of course, we’d be remiss to just harp on the negatives. For example, the same UC Berkeley study we just mentioned also determined that deep non-rapid eye movement sleep (the non-dreaming stage) can literally rewire brain circuitry in such a way as to decrease anxiety, as well as lower blood pressure and heart rate.
We also know that consistently getting a sufficient amount of sleep (that’s 7 to 9 hours per night for adults) increases our mood and productivity, reduce our risk for diabetes, helps us manage stress, and strengthens our immune system to help us avoid getting sick.
Psst: teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep, and kids between the ages of 6 and 12 need about 9 to 12!
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Struggling with sleep apnea or insomnia? Here are three natural tips for combating sleep deprivation
If you have a hard time falling and/or staying asleep, you’re in good (albeit tired) company. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, 1 out of 3 people have at least mild insomnia.
But popping a sleeping pill – whether over-the-counter or prescription – doesn’t work long-term…and, of course, poses the risk of dependency and adverse side effects.
So, how can you ease your mind and get to sleep better without becoming reliant on drugs? Previously, we’ve shared some helpful tips for improving your sleep naturally in our NaturalHealth365 podcast. But, for a brief refresher, here are three simple strategies you can start implementing tonight:
Turn down the temp. Sleep research indicates that an ideal bedroom temperature is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 20 °C). Surprisingly cool, but it seems to be ideal for helping your body create melatonin, a major sleep-wake cycle hormone. Plus, we all know how hard it is to fall asleep on a hot summer’s night when the A/C breaks!
Power down your devices. Dim your lights and avoid using televisions, cell phones, tablets, and laptops about an hour before bed. Hard to do? Sure. But if the trade-off is better sleep and better health, it definitely seems like a challenge worth taking on.
Implement a relaxing bedtime routine. Instead of scrolling on social media, try kicking back with a book or journal, deep breathing in a hot shower, or testing out that new DIY facial mask you’ve been wanting to try. Practice regular self-soothing acts that help your body wind down.
Here at Sleep Apnea Dentists of New England, our goal for 2020 is to help sleep apnea sufferers experience better nights of sleep. When our bodies are able to experience good sleep, our days become better. Everybody understands the correlation between a good night’s sleep and our ability to function throughout the day.
Just like Nancy, a good night’s sleep is a must – in order to survive the daily grind of work and life. If the body does not get enough quality sleep, that is problematic. What many people do not realize is that a lack of sleep, on a consistent basis, comes with long-term health consequences that include:
While we can’t give you back the sleep you have lost, we can work with you and your physician to help you finally get the rest you (and perhaps your bed partner) so richly deserve. Our promise is to work hard to help alleviate the symptoms and limitations caused by this serious medical condition. We want to improve your quality of life by increasing every hour of restful sleep you get.
Use the hashtag #betternightsforbetterdays when you wish to learn more about sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, CPAP, oral sleep appliances, and quality sleep.
Sleep loss and sleep disorders are among the most common yet frequently overlooked and treatable health problems. Follow our hashtag and discover the correlation between sleep and your health. With improved sleep comes improved health. When your health improves, so does your quality of life.
Make a New Year’s resolution to your own well-being. Connect with us today and start your New Year with a new YOU!
What have you got to lose? GETTING quality sleep and life is definitely worth the gain!
Sleep apnea is a health issue that often goes undiagnosed. Symptoms include snoring loudly and gasping for air often throughout the night. This is especially true during winter months when sleep apnea can worsen.
This article will explain more about sleep apnea, effective treatments, and why cold weather may make your symptoms worse.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common yet serious sleep disorder that’s characterized by pauses in breathing while you sleep. This can happen repeatedly, and you may not even be aware of it since you probably don’t fully awaken when this occurs.
During sleep, your airway collapses and blocks air from passing through. Some sleep apnea patients may gasp, snore or choke. Some are completely silent. Not all people who have sleep apnea snore. Not all people who snore have sleep apnea.
Anyone can have sleep apnea – even children. If you are male, overweight and/or over the age of 40, you’re at a higher risk. You can also have an increased risk if you have nasal congestion or obstruction caused by issues such as a deviated septum or allergies.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
The most obvious symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring, gasping, or choking sounds during sleep and feelings of extreme sleepiness during the day. However, symptoms can may also include the following:
A sore or dry throat when you wake up
Trouble falling asleep
Awakening frequently at night
Problems with concentration
Learning and memory problems
Moodiness and irritability
Does sleep apnea get worse in the winter?
An extensive, long-term study conducted in a sleep clinic in Brazil indicates that sleep apnea can get worse during winter months. Researchers looked at sleep study information for more than 7,500 patients over a 10-year period.
Patients in winter months had more nighttime stoppages in breathing when compared to patients who sought treatment in warmer months. Patients stopped breathing 18 times an hour on average in colder months compared to 15 times an hour in warmer months. In addition, 34 percent of patients who sought treatment in cold weather had severe sleep apnea, while only 28 percent of patients in warmer weather did.
The difference could be due to a variety of reasons;
Winter-related illnesses can affect the upper airway, making sleep apnea symptoms worse.
Breathing in smoke from burning wood in fireplaces can worsen symptoms.
During the winter months, the air is much drier which can irritate air passages, thus increasing the frequency of sleep apnea related episodes.
Where can I find treatment for my sleep apnea?
The doctors at Sleep Apnea Dentists of New England have extensive experience in helping patients with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Dr Vicki Cohn, DDS, D.ABDSM, is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, the highest distinction in Dental Sleep Medicine. She is committed to assisting with the underlying causes of sleep apnea and providing effective sleep apnea treatments.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with us today. We’ll work with you to find sleep apnea treatments that will help you sleep better, feel better, and improve your overall health.
At Sleep Apnea Dentists of New England, we see many athletes of all skills and ages who are dealing with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. We stumbled upon this very useful article that directly addresses the current misconception of athletes and sleep apnea and found it shareworthy.
According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, as many as 22 million individuals1 in the U.S. struggle with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – men, women and children. And, 80 percent of moderate and severe OSA cases are undiagnosed. Researchers have also found you have a 46 percent higher risk of dying early when you have severe OSA, and this includes athletes with sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Misconceptions
Surrounding these statistics though are misconceptions about sleep apnea that keeps an individual from receiving a diagnosis ― and being treated. A couple of common sleep apnea myths are:
Sleep Apnea Only Affects People Who Are Overweight
OSA is often viewed as being closely related to an above-average BMI. While many individuals with a diagnosis are overweight, there’s still many who are at an average weight. Anyone of any size or shape can get sleep apnea. Genetics can sometimes play a role.
But, OSA does decrease how much restful sleep an individual gets each night and some studies do show a link between weight gain and insufficient sleep2.
However, another study shows a link between CPAP therapy for sleep apnea and weight gain and that it can increase both weight and BMI (Body Mass Index). To experience CPAP and weight loss at the same time, you should combine your therapy with a healthy lifestyle that includes:
A healthy diet
Taking care of yourself
Sleep Apnea Only Affects Men
The common misconception is that sleep apnea only affects men. Sure, men do tend to receive more diagnoses of the condition than women, but women do get it too. Most women develop sleep apnea following menopause, with around six percent of them having it. And, female patients now make up 45 percent of sleep study referrals.
Not only does sleep apnea affect both men and women, but celebrities with sleep apnea aren’t uncommon either. In fact, there are many famous athletes who have or had sleep apnea.
7 Athletes With Sleep APnea
1. Shaquille O’Neal, who goes by the nickname “Shaq” is a retired professional basketball player in the U.S. He raised sleep apnea awareness by featuring in the four-minute video, “Shaq attacks sleep apnea,” where it shows him interacting with sleep specialists from Harvard as they prep him for an overnight sleep study. He’s also the global ambassador of ZYPPAH — a solution to snoring3.
2. Ryan Jensen, who is offensive lineman of the Baltimore Ravens told ABC news, “an obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis saved my career.” 4. He lost a lot of weight and strength and was cut from the team. After using a CPAP machine for several nights, it “changed everything.” His weight went up after one month of use, his strength returned, and he even returned to the team.
3. Reggie White, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, died prematurely because of sleep apnea5. His widow, Sara, created the Reggie White Foundation, which helps to raise awareness of the condition.
4. Roy Green, a retired NFL wide receiver, has now started focusing on promoting awareness of sleep apnea6 all over the country to help improve both current and former professional athletes’ health. He’s teamed up with David Gergen, dental icon and the Pro Player Health Alliance to help hold free local community public awareness events all over the nation.
5. Warren Sapp, Super Bowl champion, was prompted to seek treatment after the death of Reggie White, his friend and fellow football star. Through the Sleep Apnea Prevention Project7, he now helps raise sleep apnea awareness.
6. Percy Harvin, former NFL wide receiver, received a sleep apnea diagnosis in 2010 after collapsing at practice. He talked to reporters during an interview about how CPAP therapy made him immediately feel much better. In fact, he said “It’s a 100 percent difference.”8
7. Josh James, a pitcher for the Houston Astros found his performance was lacking in between the 2016 and 2017 seasons. He sought help from a sleep specialist and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. After starting treatment, he saw his symptoms (and performance on the field) improve dramatically.
Why Do Some Athletes Get Sleep Apnea?
In recent years, Sleep-disordered breathing like OSA has gained notoriety within the athletic community. The prevalence of OSA in the NFL is around 14 to 19 percent and has a two to five percent estimated prevalence rate in the general U.S. population9.
NFL players have a higher susceptibility of possibly developing OSA due to risk factors9 like having a large waist circumference and high prevalence of obesity. NFL linemen could be especially susceptible because they usually have a higher BMI.
Athletes, while often in great physical condition, have “thick” necks10 due to excessive weightlifting and having to carry around extra weight required for pushing others around the football field. This is another risk factor of sleep apnea. The extra fat or muscle tissue on the neck can cause the wall of the windpipe to become thicker and make it more difficult to keep the airway open when the body’s in a relaxed state.
Other muscular athletes, like football players, who carry extra weight11 have a risk for sleep apnea-related health concerns like stroke, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening problems.
Today, we live in a culture that’s celebrity-obsessed. Because of this, professional athletes that have sleep apnea can help raise awareness of the condition, making a difference toward public education. When the public sees athletes with sleep apnea that are tackling it, it makes a great impression.
David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it’s like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient’s perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.
Treating patients with moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea with positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is associated with reduced acute care visits and health care expenditures, according to a recent study.
Every one-hour increase in PAP usage per night was associated with an 8% decrease in inpatient visits (rate ratio 0.92) and a 4% decrease in overall acute care visits (RR 0.96). PAP adherence also was associated with a significantly lower number of emergency department visits and inpatient stays, and increasing PAP usage was associated with a lower likelihood of having positive costs from these visits. Among patients with emergency department costs, PAP adherence was associated with 27% lower costs.
“While it’s not surprising that treatment of moderate or severe sleep apnea is good for overall health, the fact that PAP treatment in a relatively short time frame was associated with an impact of this significance was unexpected,” says lead author Douglas B. Kirsch, MD, American Academy of Sleep Medicine president, medical director of sleep medicine at Atrium Health in Charlotte, NC, and clinical professor in the Department of Medicine at UNC School of Medicine, in a release. “In addition, while many older research trials suggested patients were not often adherent to PAP therapy, this study of more than 1,000 patients suggests that with appropriate education and support, a significant majority of patients are likely to use PAP therapy in an effective manner.”
The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study of adult patients who initiated PAP therapy after a diagnosis of moderate or severe sleep apnea at a large integrated health system between 2014-2016. The study consisted of 1,098 patients (average age 55.7 years, 66.3% male) who had at least 18 months of available data after PAP therapy was initiated. Treatment adherence was defined as using PAP more than four hours per night for at least 70 percent of the studied nights.
Results show that 60% of the study population was adherent to PAP therapy, and the overall average percentage of nights with PAP usage of more than four hours was nearly 70%. The average use on nights when PAP was used was 6.4 hours per night, and the average use on all nights was 5.3 hours.
“Patients, clinicians and health systems should recognize that effective treatment of sleep apnea is valuable in both an individual’s health and as a mechanism to keep overall medical costs lower for the patient and the health system,” says Kirsch. “This study suggests that a significant majority of patients not only tolerate but are adherent to therapy over an 18-month time frame when given effective education and support.”