You’re probably aware of how life-threatening sleep apnea can be. It has been linked to anything from stroke and heart attack to some types of cancer. But according to a new study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, there is one scenario in which having sleep apnea can be tremendously beneficial.
Sleep Apnea can actually save your life!
These scientists picked two groups of mice and divided them by age into a group roughly corresponding to the same age as human teenagers and another group corresponding to humans age 65 and older. When comparing the two groups, they could clearly see that the intermittent lack of oxygen involved in sleep apnea sped up tumor growth in the young mice, although this did not occur in the older mice. So age seems to be a protective factor against aggressive tumor growth that is caused by intermittently low oxygen levels.
They couldn’t elucidate why this happens, except to suggest that immune system cells inside the tumors within young and old bodies respond differently to low oxygen conditions.
Immune system cells called macrophages are present in tumors; they are often responsible for most of the inflammation that occurs in these tumors. For a reason that remains poorly understood, these macrophages are not as aggressive in older bodies as they are in younger ones when responding to a low-oxygen environment.
This might be why previous studies on the association between sleep apnea and cancer have been rather mixed. If age affects the relationship, then different studies will reach different conclusions.
Another factor that might have confused researchers is that different types of cancer respond differently to the lack of oxygen. Researchers from the University of Barcelona specifically looked at lung cancer, but other cancers may not necessarily respond the same way.
This new study might thus clear up some of this confusion with its finding that the bodies of cancer sufferers at different ages may respond differently to intermittent oxygen deprivation.
Regardless of age or other factors, cancer is probably the least of your worries if you suffer from sleep apnea, as there are more urgent complications connected to this disease.
We’ve all had those nights where we inexplicably wake up in the middle of the night with a grumbling belly. Maybe it was that HIIT workout you braved for the first time, your marathon of meetings-slash-evening-errands that left you with little time to eat an adequate dinner, or maybe you were just dreaming about delicious pasta (the best type of reverie).
While you could certainly go forth and eat gobs of Nutella straight from the jar—convenience and tastiness are both extremely key, after all—you don’t need to be an registered dietitian to conclude that the sugar content isn’t exactly a recipe for sound sleep the rest of the night. “High fat and high sugar foods like ice cream and cookies are a double whammy of not helping you sleep well, because fat takes a long time to digest,” says Dawn Blatner, RDN, author of The Superfood Swap. “Giving your gut foods that are difficult to digest distracts your body from sleep, and then sugar causes spikes and crashes of blood sugar and those will interrupt sleep, too.”
Blatner also suggests avoiding alcohol since, even though your nightcap can make you feel sleepy, it will disrupt your sleep cycle later in the night and lead to lower quality sleep. Caffeinated teas or too much of anything liquid should also be consumed in moderation, she adds, as having to use the bathroom can keep you awake.
7 healthy midnight snacks that will help lull you back to sleep
1. Tart Cherries
“Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s internal clock and sleep-wake cycle,” says Blatner. If you can’t find tart cherries at the supermarket, she suggests opting for tart cherry concentrate, which is the super-charged version of tart cherry juice with two tablespoons packing in the equivalent of a whopping 60-plus cherries. Instead of guzzling it (remember that sugar and excessive amounts of liquid can keep you awake), create yourself a little ‘natural’ jello shot before bed. “All you do is mix two tablespoons of tart cherry concentrate with a tablespoon of chia seeds and chill it in the fridge. Try topping it with greek yogurt to combat the tartness,” Blatner says.RELATED STORIES‘I’m a Registered Dietitian, and This Is the One Food I Always…Why Snacking on Hemp Seeds Can Help You Sleep More Soundly
2. Pumpkin Seeds
“Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of magnesium, and studies have found that magnesium improves insomnia and sleep efficiency,” says Blatner. Almonds, cashews, and peanuts are other good sources of magnesium that all make for ideal healthy midnight snacks.
3. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese contains the amino acid L-tryptophan. “Tryptophan plays a role in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s associated with healthy sleep,” says Blatner. “Research has found people who ate cottage cheese about 30 minutes to an hour before going to bed experienced better metabolic health, muscle quality, and overall health than people who didn’t.”https://79dbc014217aa09ddae4500b65493fc3.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
We know it’s no cheesy mozzarella pizza or ricotta cheesecake, but you can optimize your enjoyment of cottage cheese with a sprinkle of cinnamon (which has its own sleep benefits). “You can also try topping it with tahini or sunflower seed butter, which both contain tryptophan as well,” says Blatner.
“Research suggests that the antioxidants and natural serotonin in kiwis can improve both sleep quality and quantity,” says Blatner. Kiwis are naturally sweet and delicious as-is, but you can jazz them up by lightly dipping them in dark chocolate. “Dark chocolate has magnesium, a helpful sleep mineral, but it also has a little caffeine, so go easy on it.”
6. Banana with Peanut Butter
“Foods that contain unsaturated fats, like peanut butter, can help improve serotonin levels and boost satiety to keep you feeling satisfied and full during sleep,” says Carissa Galloway, RDN, a nutrition consultant at Premier Protein. “Eating bananas with peanut butter can also be helpful before bed, as bananas contain magnesium which, as mentioned, help support good sleep.” The combination of bananas plus peanut butter makes for one of the most delicious healthy midnight snacks out there.
7. Chamomile Tea
“There are numerous studies that support the benefits of chamomile tea in promoting a healthy nighttime routine,” says Galloway. Chamomile tea contains flavonoids, which are compounds found in certain foods, including one called apigenin. “Apigenin connects with receptors in our brains to help reduce insomnia and promote a state of steady sleep.”
So when you find yourself wide awake in the wee hours, sip a cup of chamomile tea with a splash of steamed almond milk, or have a batch of Blatner’s chamomile cookies on hand.
All that said, bear in mind that more important than what you eat before bed, is the amount. “Having a large amount of any food will take too much effort for your body to digest instead of resting,” says Blatner. A light nosh of one of the foods recommended here, on the other hand, will send you right into the sweetest of dreams.
If you’ve ever spent a night tossing and turning, you already know how you’ll feel the next day — tired, cranky, and out of sorts. But missing out on the recommended 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye nightly does more than make you feel groggy and grumpy.
The long-term effects of sleep deprivation are real.
It drains your mental abilities and puts your physical health at real risk. Science has linked poor slumber with a number of health problems, from weight gain to a weakened immune system.
Read on to learn the causes of sleep deprivation and exactly how it affects specific body functions and systems.
In a nutshell, sleep deprivation is caused by consistent lack of sleep or reduced quality of sleep. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis can eventually lead to health consequences that affect your entire body. This may also be caused by an underlying sleep disorder.
Your body needs sleep, just as it needs air and food to function at its best. During sleep, your body heals itself and restores its chemical balance. Your brain forges new thought connections and helps memory retention.
Without enough sleep, your brain and body systems won’t function normally. It can also dramatically lower your quality of life.
Your central nervous system is the main information highway of your body. Sleep is necessary to keep it functioning properly, but chronic insomnia can disrupt how your body usually sends and processes information.
During sleep, pathways form between nerve cells (neurons) in your brain that help you remember new information you’ve learned. Sleep deprivation leaves your brain exhausted, so it can’t perform its duties as well.
You may also find it more difficult to concentrate or learn new things. The signals your body sends may also be delayed, decreasing your coordination and increasing your risk for accidents.
Sleep deprivation also negatively affects your mental abilities and emotional state. You may feel more impatient or prone to mood swings. It can also compromise decision-making processes and creativity.
If sleep deprivation continues long enough, you could start having hallucinations — seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there. A lack of sleep can also trigger mania in people who have bipolar mood disorder. Other psychological risks include:
While you sleep, your immune system produces protective, infection-fighting substances like antibodies and cytokines. It uses these substances to combat foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.
Certain cytokines also help you to sleep, giving your immune system more efficiency to defend your body against illness.
Sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from building up its forces. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body may not be able to fend off invaders, and it may also take you longer to recover from illness.
The relationship between sleep and the respiratory system goes both ways. A nighttime breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can interrupt your sleep and lower sleep quality.
As you wake up throughout the night, this can cause sleep deprivation, which leaves you more vulnerable to respiratory infections like the common cold and flu. Sleep deprivation can also make existing respiratory diseases worse, such as chronic lung illness.
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Along with eating too much and not exercising, sleep deprivation is another risk factor for becoming overweight and obese. Sleep affects the levels of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and fullness.
Leptin tells your brain that you’ve had enough to eat. Without enough sleep, your brain reduces leptin and raises ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant. The flux of these hormones could explain nighttime snacking or why someone may overeat later in the night.
A lack of sleep can also make you feel too tired to exercise. Over time, reduced physical activity can make you gain weight because you’re not burning enough calories and not building muscle mass.
Sleep deprivation also causes your body to release less insulin after you eat. Insulin helps to reduce your blood sugar (glucose) level.
Sleep deprivation also lowers the body’s tolerance for glucose and is associated with insulin resistance. These disruptions can lead to diabetes mellitus and obesity.
Sleep affects processes that keep your heart and blood vessels healthy, including those that affect your blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation levels. It also plays a vital role in your body’s ability to heal and repair the blood vessels and heart.
People who don’t sleep enough are more likely to get cardiovascular disease. One analysis linked insomnia to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Hormone production is dependent on your sleep. For testosterone production, you need at least 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep, which is about the time of your first R.E.M. episode. Waking up throughout the night could affect hormone production.
This interruption can also affect growth hormone production, especially in children and adolescents. These hormones help the body build muscle mass and repair cells and tissues, in addition to other growth functions.
The pituitary gland releases growth hormone throughout each day, but adequate sleep and exercise also help the release of this hormone.
The most basic form of sleep deprivation treatment is getting an adequate amount of sleep, typically 7 to 9 hours each night.
This is often easier said than done, especially if you’ve been deprived of precious shut-eye for several weeks or longer. After this point, you may need help from your doctor or a sleep specialist who, if needed, can diagnose and treat a possible sleep disorder.
Sleep disorders may make it difficult to get quality sleep at night. They may also increase your risk for the above effects of sleep deprivation on the body.
The following are some of the most common types of sleep disorders:
To diagnose these conditions, your doctor may order a sleep study. This is traditionally conducted at a formal sleep center, but now there are options to measure your sleep quality at home, too.
If you’re diagnosed with a sleep disorder, you may be given medication or a device to keep your airway open at night (in the case of obstructive sleep apnea) to help combat the disorder so you can get a better night’s sleep on a regular basis.
The best way to prevent sleep deprivation is to make sure you get adequate sleep. Follow the recommended guidelines for your age group, which is 7 to 9 hours for most adults ages 18 to 64.
Other ways you can get back on track with a healthy sleep schedule include:
limiting daytime naps (or avoiding them altogether)
refraining from caffeine past noon or at least a few hours prior to bedtime
going to bed at the same time each night
waking up at the same time every morning
sticking to your bedtime schedule during weekends and holidays
spending an hour before bed doing relaxing activities, such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath
avoiding heavy meals within a few hours before bedtime
refraining from using electronic devices right before bed
exercising regularly, but not in the evening hours close to bedtime
reducing alcohol intake
If you continue to have problems sleeping at night and are fighting daytime fatigue, talk to your doctor. They can test for underlying health conditions that might be getting in the way of your sleep schedule.
VeryWell: Sleep apnea can take a toll on the hormonal balances in the male body, leading to problems including erectile dysfunction.
Numerous studies have linked healthy sleep to healthy sex. While sleep deprivation can cause mood and relationship problems, the bigger issue is how sleep disorders can affect the production of hormones like testosterone. Sleep disorders are a leading cause of sexual problems.
Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing when you are sleeping. When this happens, it may disturb you enough to wake you up completely, but your sleep is usually disturbed whether you fully wake up or not. Testosterone production rises when you fall asleep and peaks during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Research points to the fragmented sleep of people who suffer from sleep apnea as being a contributor to sexual problems like erectile dysfunction.
Around 4% of men ages 30–60 experience erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is more common in men with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) than those without OSA.
(CNN)Are you paying attention? Maybe not. We spend nearly half our waking lives with wandering minds, Harvard University scientists found over a decade ago. When you’re trying to get something done — such as reading an article about mindfulness, for example — that wandering mind can derail your goals. “If we’re not paying attention to the present moment when we’re trying to get something done, that’s a problem, whether the goal is to read a book or talk to a partner,” said Amishi Jha, professor of psychology at the University of Miami. “Whatever it is, it’s going to require you to actually be in the moment to do it. “That’s where mindfulness comes in.
With roots in Eastern spiritual traditions, mindfulness has transformed into a secular practice in the West. The term encompasses a range of practices that include breathing exercises, guided meditations and more formal trainings. “It’s the antidote to mind wandering,” Jha said. “It’s paying attention to our present moment experience without editorializing or reacting to it. “Mindfulness is an effective way to quiet your mind. Benefits of mindfulness go beyond focus. Practicing mindfulness can be effective at improving focus, lessening pain, improving sleep, mitigating stress and easing feelings of anxiety and depression, studies have found in recent years. Those are five great reasons to try a mindfulness practice — and we’ve got five ways you can get started today. Enter your email to sign up for the Better Sleep newsletter. “close dialog”
1. You want to fine-tune your focus
Constantly getting distracted is annoying, but it can be more serious than that annoyance. “When you are not paying attention to what is in front of you, in the moment, you’re going to have errors, you’re going to make mistakes, you’re likely to have lapses in judgment,” said University of Miami psychologist Jha, author of the forthcoming book “Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day,” which explores how mindfulness can improve focus and attention.
This 5-minute meditation routine will calm you downShe works with military personnel and first responders, whose jobs require extreme focus in stressful situations. “If you have an attentional lapse, it could be the difference between life and death,” she said. Taking time for mindfulness is like strengthening a mental muscle, she said, and her lab has found positive results from just 12 minutes of daily practice.”It’s parallel to physical activity,” Jha said. “Engaging in a mindfulness practice is strengthening specific aspects of attention so that if we need them, we have access to that.”Try this: Join CNN’s Anderson Cooper for a guided meditation with mindfulness research pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn
2. You’re living with chronic pain
More than a fifth of US adults have chronic pain, found the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2019, conditions that contribute to the country’s opioid epidemic.Mindfulness is a promising technique for managing symptoms while lessening prescription drug use, said Eric Garland, a distinguished endowed chair in research, professor and associate dean at The University of Utah College of Social Work.
These people started using drugs as children but turned their lives around. Here’s how.“Practice of mindfulness seems to help people cope with chronic pain, and reduce their overreliance on opioids,” he said. “Mindfulness breathing can immediately reduce pain” by 23%, according to Garland’s research.It’s not a long-lasting effect, he added. But his research has found that 15 minutes of mindful breathing is enough for a temporary reduction in pain.”It’s meditation as medication. You’re hurting, and you take some ibuprofen, and it works to alleviate pain,” he said. “The effects wear off in a couple of hours and you need to take another medicine. Mindfulness is similar.”Try this: Follow step-by-step instructions for a short body scan to address pain
3. You’d like a great night of sleep
Missing out on sleep is linked to chronic diseases and poor health, but more than 35% of US adults get fewer than the recommended seven to nine hours, according to the CDC.
Sleep hygiene: 8 ways to train your brain for better sleepIf you’re tossing and turning all night, a mindfulness practice may help, found a 2019 meta-analysis of 18 studies.A wide range of sleep-specific mindfulness meditations are available free online. A popular mindfulness-for-sleep technique is the “body scan,” an approach that outperformed cognitive behavioral therapy in a 2020 trial of adolescents with insomnia.Sign up for the Sleep, But Better newsletter series. Our seven-part guide has helpful hints to achieve better sleep.In a body scan sleep meditation created by UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, participants follow recorded instructions to notice sensations in each part of the body, starting at the top of the head and moving toward the feet and toes. The best part? It all happens in bed.Try this: Lie down and cue up UCLA’s 13-minute body scan for sleep
4. You’re feeling the effects of too much stress
“There’s definitely support for mindfulness reducing stress,” said Winston of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. Years of research back the claim, though Winston noted that the studies’ definitions of stress can vary widely.
In mindfulness studies, “one of the easier effects to see is lowered anxiety,” said Susan Johnson, a professor of psychological science of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, who noted the calming effect of sitting down and taking some deep, slow breaths.
The future — and limitations — of mindfulness science
Mindfulness is not a cure-all, despite a growing number of studies and eager headlines. Some mindfulness research fails to meet the strictest norms of study design, Johnson said.
The best yoga mats of 2021 (CNN Underscored)“Only about 10% of studies have active control groups,” she said. In a study with an active control group, some participants use mindfulness while others try a different activity entirely. It helps weed out the placebo effect.A 2021 meta-analysis in the British Medical Bulletin noted a need for more high-quality studies with larger sample sizes and more long-term follow-up. Evidence for some mindfulness benefits is robust, the study found, showing techniques can help with pain, insomnia, anxiety and stress. Evidence that mindfulness interventions help with post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders and eating disorders — some of which have made splashy news in recent years — remain preliminary.”I think (mindfulness) can be beneficial. I do meditate myself,” said Johnson, who calls herself “a skeptic of the exaggerated claims that are made.”Get CNN Health’s weekly newsletter
Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.And even when it comes to targeting conditions like anxiety and stress, where benefits of mindfulness are strongly supported by research, there are no guarantees. “Mindfulness is not for everybody,” noted UCLA’s Winston. “Some people really respond to it and love it, and others don’t find it helpful.” Winston, too, said enthusiasm about the possible benefits of mindfulness sometimes gets ahead of the research.”Just keep in mind that the research on mindfulness is very young, even though it’s very exciting,” she said. “There’s so much more to do.”
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.