How Much Sleep Should Your Kids Get This Summer?

For kids, summer is a time to relax and recover from the demands of school, right? So how lax should we be with our kids and how much should we let them sleep in? Are the benefits of a good night’s sleep worth letting our kids be a little lazier during the summer months? Well for children and teens, sleep is a powerful thing and all experts agree that letting kids get plenty of sleep each night will have a positive impact on their health and well-being, even if it means sleeping in a little bit longer during summer vacation.

Studies show that sleep deprivation in children can lead to a string of potential health problems, so before you being waking them up early on a day off from school like summer vacation, discover the benefits of letting them indulge in some extra Zs. Summer vacation can be a busy time for parents and kids, and sometimes you may not be able to let your kids sleep in late due to schedules or obligations, but it is a good time to ensure they are getting the right amount of sleep. Sleep doctors say that toddlers need 10-12 hours of sleep per night plus a one to three hour nap during the day. Grade school-aged kids and tweens need 10-12 hours of sleep per night and teens need nine to ten hours of sleep per night.

While this may be a questionable parenting topic, not letting your child sleep in when appropriate could actually be hazardous to their health. In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers examined children’s weight and metabolic regulation based on varying sleep schedules. They found that kids who weren’t allowed to “catch up” on sleep on the weekends had poor metabolic function and were more likely to be obese. When you let your child sleep in, you can help them maintain a healthier body weight. Similarly, lack of sleep can cause a lot of stress and difficulty for a child. Even physical complications like headaches can create a negative outlook on life for children.

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial and getting enough sleep is, too. If you suspect your child is not getting the rest they need, our sleep doctors can help. We diagnose sleep disorders for people of all ages and can help treat your sleep issues no matter how big or how small.


How does a CPAP machine work?

Were you diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and now every night you sleep with a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure machine)? The CPAP helps control your breathing, giving you an undisturbed cpapnight of rest. The CPAP machine provides pressurized air to your upper airway while sleeping to keep your airway open.

The apparatus generally consists of an air compressor and either a nasal or facial mask. To help keep the mask in place while you sleep, it comes with a strap. The strap not only goes around your head but also under your chin to keep the mouth closed letting the majority of the breathing to be done through the nose. A tube then connects the mask to the machine. There is a motor that blows air into the tube and through your mask into your airway. Some CPAP machines monitor your breathing and apply pressurized air only when you need it.

The CPAP machine has a small tank for water and a filter that are designed to remove impurities and increase the humidity level in the air. This helps keep the patients from developing nosebleeds, along with dry mouth and throats.

According to the National Sleep Foundation 50% percent of the 18 million people with sleep apnea regularly use their CPAP machines. Even though the machine is quiet, some patients feel claustrophobic with the mask. Remember if you want your CPAP machine to be effective, you must wear it 6-8 hours while sleeping.

Even though CPAP machines are not prescribed to treat snoring, they help eliminate snoring in addition to sleep apnea.

If you have any questions about your CPAP machine or concerning sleep apnea contact your sleep specialist.


Preparations for a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging, if not downright impossible, for many individuals. Nearly a third of Americans say they struggle with being able to fall asleep a few nights per week. Sleep deprivation has been linked to several health complications including high blood pressure, obesity, poor concentration and a pervasive lack of energy to name a few. Good health and a better quality of life begins with a good night’s sleep so let’s look at a few ways to help get you that quality rest your body requires.

While you may not be able to control all the factors keeping you from a full night’s sleep, adopting healthy sleep habits will ensure you are giving your body the best possible environment for achieving a restorative night’s sleep. The number one recommended healthy sleep tip is to establish a consistent schedule. It is so tempting to stay up late and then sleep in on your days off, but that actually disrupts your sleep-wake cycle, making it even harder to fall asleep when you need to. Along with a consistent schedule, it also helps to establish a bedtime ritual to signal to your body that it is time for sleep. Whether it’s taking a warm shower, reading a book or doing some relaxing yoga every night before bed, it will help ease the transition into sleep. The one caveat to this however, is to avoid using the TV or other electronic devices as part of your nightly ritual. There has been considerable research done that suggests the lights from the screen can actually stimulate your brain making it even harder to nod off.

What you eat and drink, especially close to bedtime, can be directly related to how well you sleep at night. Eating too much as well as eating too little, can disrupt your sleep. It is recommended that you finish dinner at least four hours before bedtime to eliminate reflux, heartburn or other sleep depriving symptoms. The converse is true as well, if you eat too little for dinner and go to bed on an empty stomach, you could have a problem getting to sleep and staying asleep; a small, healthy snack before bedtime can help you nod off more quickly. Indulging in nicotine, caffeine and alcohol too close to bedtime can wreak havoc on your sleep quality as well. Even though alcohol can help you fall asleep, as it is metabolized in your system it can wake you up not too long later.

Stress is another trigger that causes insomnia. Finding ways to manage your stress levels can help alleviate insomnia. Creating a peaceful and comfortable sleep environment can help; cool, dark and quiet are ideal sleeping conditions. Physical activity throughout the day not only helps you manage stress, it also promotes better sleep at night. Work tends to be a major source of stress for many individuals, so a couple hours before bed, put away the computer and iPad and leave any emails and other work items for the next day. It will help to calm your mind and let your body wind down so you can fall asleep easier and faster.

If these strategies don’t help, and you still find yourself plagued with insomnia or just feel as if you are never rested properly, it could be a sign of another underlying condition. A visit to a sleep doctor might be in order. They can help you accurately diagnose the source of your symptoms, and a sleep study can determine if you have an undiagnosed sleep disorder that is preventing you from a good night’s sleep.


Do you talk in your sleep?

Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy, is a very common occurrence and while it can be upsetting to those listening or to those who did the talking, it is not usually considered a medical condition. There are times however, when it is caused by another underlying sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or REM sleep behavior disorder. If that is the case, it will usually resolve itself when the sleep disorder is treated. Other causes of sleep talking include emotional stress, fever, sleep deprivation, depression, substance abuse, certain medications or day-time drowsiness.

When you observe someone talking in their sleep, it can be quite amusing to hear what they are saying; oftentimes it’s just gibberish but other times sleep talkers can carry on complete conversations in their sleep. Their chatter may be completely harmless, but there are times when it morphs into the disturbing category. It is not uncommon for sleep talkers to become vulgar or offensive and some are even known to yell or appear terrified during one of their diatribes.

As much as fifty percent of children between the ages of 3 and 10 years old experience sleep talking episodes at least a few nights per week. This usually fades as they grow older and once they reach adulthood, only about five percent continue to talk in their sleep. If sleep talking begins suddenly as an adult, or if it involves intense fear, screaming or violent actions, it is a good idea to make an appointment with a sleep specialist. In rare cases, adult onset sleep talking can be an indication of nocturnal seizures or a psychiatric disorder.

Unless there is an underlying cause for sleep talking, such as an undiagnosed sleep disorder or other type of medical condition, there is no medical treatment necessary. Since sleep talking can be disturbing to bed partners however, there are some techniques you can try to help alleviate the severity and frequency of sleep talking episodes.

• Follow a regular sleep schedule 7 days a week
• Get adequate amounts of sleep during the night
• Avoid napping during the day which can disrupt the normal sleep–wake cycle
• Ensure adequate exposure to natural light during the day which can help maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle
• Refrain from stimulants before sleep such as caffeine, alcohol or nicotine
• Do not indulge in a heavy meal before bedtime
• Practice stress relieving techniques before bed such as yoga or meditation to help your body get into a relaxed state before attempting sleep

If these techniques don’t work, or your sleep talking episodes worsen, consider seeing a sleep doctor for a sleep study to determine if there are other conditions causing the episodes. A sleep study can diagnose a host of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy and night terrors to name a few. If a sleep disorder is diagnosed, a sleep specialist will work with your physician to determine the proper course of treatment to resolve the issue.


Do you have signs of a sleep disorder?

When you do not get enough sleep at night, it can have serious effects on your overall health, too. Knowing the signs of a sleep disorder can help you live a better and healthier life. According to WebMD, mental alertness and a lack of headaches aren’t the only cues of how they’re handling sleep deprivation. Skipping sleep has been linked to less-obvious problems (think headaches and even life-threatening ones and earlier death). Sometimes we choose to not get enough sleep and other times it seems to be out of our control.  But what we can choose to do is to learn the most common signs of a sleep disorder and know who to contact if we find ourselves living the signs each day. These take place when you:

  •  Are still exhausted in the morning.
  • You snore while you sleep.
  • You often sleep during the day.
  • You have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep at night or suffer from insomnia.

Sleep isn’t the only issue you have but some other existing health condition is making it even more difficult to sleep now. These issues go hand in hand and affect one another.

Lack of sleep due to a sleep disorder can also create issues with memory, cognition, reaction, alertness, learning, social and professional relationships, mood and some serious cardiac conditions. Whether social, emotional or physical the effects, all collectively grow in risk when we do not get enough sleep due to a sleep disorder. You are not alone, though. 40 percent of American adults are sleep-deprived; the average American sleeps less than seven hours per night during the week. Meanwhile, 70 percent of adolescents also fall behind the recommended amount.

Why? There are so many reasons for this. One of our goals is to take the knowledge and expertise of our team of professionals who include Board Certified Sleep Specialists, Pulmonologists, Respiratory Therapists, and Polysomnographic Technicians. We can diagnose and treat multiple sleep disorders and have you living a better life just by improving the amount and the quality of your sleep. In the world we live in, we are constantly on the go. Remember that sleep is important and by monitoring the signs and symptoms of a sleep disorder, you could add years or reduce the risk of serious health issues down the road.





All about Sleepwalking

Sleepwalking is an actual sleep disorder that causes people to physically get up and walk while they are still sleeping, typically during one of the deep stages of sleep. Sleepwalking usually involves more than just walking during sleep; it is a series of complex behaviors that are carried out while sleeping, the most obvious of which is walking. Sleepwalking disorder symptoms can range from simply sitting up in bed and looking around, to walking around the room or house, to leaving the house and even driving long distances. It is a common misconception that a sleepwalker should not be awakened. In fact, it can be quite dangerous not to wake a sleepwalker as you can see by some of the common behaviors.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the presence of sleepwalking in the general population is estimated to be between 1% and 15%. The onset or persistence of sleepwalking in adulthood is common, and is usually not associated with any significant underlying psychiatric or psychological problems. Common triggers for sleepwalking include sleep deprivation, sedative agents including alcohol, febrile illnesses, and certain medications. Many patients who sleepwalk admit that they are embarrassed about their behaviors, especially when they learn what they did during their episode. Many of these behaviors tend to be crude, strange or sometimes hostile. It can be difficult to wake a sleepwalker up and when you do, they will probably be confused and lack any memory of the event. Episodes can occur rarely, or very often. They can even happen multiple times a night for a few nights in a row. Consulting a sleep doctor or our sleep center can help protect the sleepwalker or those around them. It will also help all parties involved get a better night’s sleep as sleep walking typically interrupts sleep for everyone.

Now you know that the symptoms can range from quiet walking about the room to agitated running or attempts to “escape.” Typically, the eyes are open with a glassy, staring appearance as the person quietly roams the house. On questioning, responses are slow or absent. If the person is returned to bed without awakening, he or she will usually not remember the event. Does any of this sound familiar to you? If you, a loved one or your child has any of these symptoms at night, our sleep doctors at any of our locations are ready to help. Our sleep centers have diagnosed and treated many people who suffered from sleepwalking and even sleep talking.Various treatment options may include behavior and lifestyle changes and recommendations, and/or prescribed medications. How you sleep tonight will affect how you feel tomorrow. Isn’t it time to diagnose your sleep disorder?


Poor Sleep Due to RLS

RLSAccording to The National Sleep Foundation, approximately one in ten adult Americans suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease. This sleep-related movement disorder is known best for its overwhelming and often unpleasant urges to move the legs while at rest. RLS often impacts sleep quality and overall quality of life. Some people find falling asleep and staying asleep nearly impossible. Poor sleep can affect daily life, emotional well-being, social life and work life. But you’re not alone should this be your correct diagnosis.

RLS is a neurological disorder characterized by throbbing, pulling, creeping, or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable, and sometimes overwhelming, urge to move them. Symptoms occur primarily at night when a person is relaxing or at rest and can increase in severity during the night. Moving the legs relieves the discomfort. Often called paresthesias (abnormal sensations) or dysesthesias (unpleasant abnormal sensations), the sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful. Doesn’t sound like something you could sleep with, does it? We don’t think so and neither do our clients. But without further diagnosis from your physician or a professional sleep center, people have been incorrectly told that RLS was actually the symptoms of nervousness, insomnia, stress, arthritis, muscle cramps, or aging!

Treatment varies based on severity but can range from medication, supplements or a variety of other means. In people with mild to moderate restless legs syndrome, lifestyle changes, such as beginning a regular exercise program, establishing regular sleep patterns, and eliminating or decreasing the use of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco may be sufficient. Treatment typically aims at reliving the associated symptoms so that the throbbing, pulling, creeping, or other unpleasant sensations in the legs can subside along with what patients express as sleepless nights, mental anguish and the relentless and tormenting feelings. Sometimes, RLS is caused by other health conditions such as high blood sugar related nerve damage or chronic vascular disease like deep vein thrombosis and arterial claudication and when those are treated, the symptoms can also subside.

We encourage you to contact our sleep center for proper diagnosis or speak with your physician. Our sleep doctors are prepared to treat your sleep disorder so that you can start living your life fully and rested. A good night’s sleep goes a long way!


Air Quality Tied to Sleep Quality

Are your poor sleep habits caused by something in your home? Is the air you breathe making it hard to get a good night’s sleep? It may certainly be possible. Poor sleep habits, also known as sleep hygiene are among the most common problems our society faces. We stay up too late for having to work early, we interrupt our sleep with sugar, alcohol and we overstimulate ourselves with late-night activities like movies, television and surfing the Internet rather than reading a book or listening to soft music. Many of us know that sleep is important, but how could we overlook something like air quality as the reason we don’t sleep well? This month is National Care About Your Indoor Air Month and we want you to take a look at what you’re breathing in at night.

Just like outdoor air pollution is dangerous for us, indoor air pollution has its effects, too. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, levels of indoor air pollution can be two to five times higher (and in some cases 100 times higher!) than outdoor air pollution levels. Half of the population didn’t know this which could answer the question we posed above. Often, we misinterpret the signs of indoor air pollution since we cannot typically see those harmful particles we are breathing.

According to sleep experts, your sleeping environment has a big impact on sleep hygiene. Have you ever considered things like your bedding, temperature, distracting noises, what you use your bed for or the air you breathe at night? Air quality is a main aspect of your sleep environment and therefore directly related to sleep hygiene and sleep quality. According to experts at the University of Maryland, the relationship between indoor air quality and sleep is a complex one. While we are sleeping at night, our body is recharging and restoring itself, providing us with energy to face the next day. Poor air quality in an indoor sleeping area can disrupt sleep in a number of different ways.

If we can limit our air quality problems that impact our sleep, we will be more rested and even our quality of life can improve. Sleep interruptions, according to Self Growth online, can include breathing in contaminants, animal dander, dust, and other air pollutants in large quantities while you are sleeping can result in restlessness and lack of sufficient oxygen in the blood, causing you to wake up feeling tired, cranky, and listless. They also include the deep breathing that occurs during sleep causes the body to inhale many irritating particles that agitate the respiratory system and cause coughing, sneezing, inflammation of the sinuses, and other sleep disturbing effects.

If you or someone you love is having a hard time sleeping at night, take a look at the air quality. It could be something simple or it may be more but this month is the perfect time to start feeling better and getting high-quality sleep. If you need more answers, give our sleep centers a call. Our sleep professionals can help create a list of possible lifestyle and medical reasons to answer the ultimate restless question, “Why can’t I sleep at night?”


Life with Narcolepsy

Most people have never heard of the phrase sleep attacks, but people living with narcolepsy deal with these moments chronically. Narcolepsy is not talked about enough and many people do not know what the term truly entails. At our Glendale, Peoria and Surprise locations, we are prepared to help you live life to the fullest and treat narcolepsy so that you no longer have to suffer from its debilitating effects. Narcolepsy is a chronic brain disorder that involves poor control of sleep-wake cycles. Those suffering from this disorder experience periods of extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden, irresistible bouts of sleep that can strike at any time. These “sleep attacks” usually last a few seconds to several minutes. As many as 40 percent of people with narcolepsy are prone to automatic behavior during these “microsleeps” or “sleep attacks.”

Narcolepsy is more than just falling asleep on a whim. It can greatly affect daily activities. People may unwillingly fall asleep while at work or at school, when having a conversation, playing a game, eating a meal, or, most dangerously, when driving or operating other types of machinery. This makes everyday life very frustrating and difficult for those not being treated. Beyond just affecting sleep habits, other symptoms include cataplexy (a sudden loss of voluntary muscle tone while awake that makes a person go limp or unable to move), vivid dream-like images or hallucinations, as well as total paralysis just before falling asleep or just after waking-up.
Life with narcolepsy does not however mean that you sleep much more than those without the condition. You just may experience poor quality sleep or frequent interruptions to sleep. Most adults get an average of 8 hours of sleep which is composed of roughly four to six sleep cycles. A sleep cycle is defined as by a segment of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep followed by a period of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and this is a whole other topic we will save for later. These typical sleep cycles last 100 to 110 minutes. They begin with NREM sleep and after about 80 to 100 minutes, move into REM sleep. People who have narcolepsy often enter REM sleep within a few minutes of falling asleep, a major difference from their counterparts.

Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) tends to be the most common symptom experienced and is usually the first to become clinically apparent. Mental cloudiness, a lack of energy, a depressed mood, or extreme exhaustion are all signs of EDS. Sleep deprivation has become one of the most common causes of EDS among Americans. Narcolepsy has also been shown to be linked to cataplexy, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, disrupted nocturnal sleep and obesity. The most common major symptom, other than excessive daytime sleepiness EDS, is cataplexy, which occurs in about 70 percent of all people with narcolepsy. Sleep paralysis and hallucinations are somewhat less common. Only 10 to 25 percent of affected individuals, however, display all four of these major symptoms during the course of their illness.

How do we test for narcolepsy? First, you should begin by talking to your doctor who will refer you to a sleep lab for sleep tests. Narcolepsy requires several tests in order to reach a diagnosis. A sleep doctor will likely perform a physical examination as well as learn in-depth about your medical history to rule out other causes. Just because you have some symptoms of narcolepsy doesn’t mean that will be your diagnosis. Specialized sleep tests at a sleep disorder clinic also may include the polysomnogram (PSG) and the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT). In addition, questionnaires, such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, are often used to measure excessive daytime sleepiness.

With the diagnosis also comes treatment. Here in at PM Sleep Centers, our professionals are prepared to provide relief for you just as we have for thousands of other patients. Treatment options may include behavior and lifestyle changes and recommendations, and prescribed medications.

Life with narcolepsy comes with many challenges without a doubt, but these challenges can find some relief through education the patient, family, friends, communication and honesty, social flexibility and joining support systems. Even with treatment, narcolepsy patients may suffer from sleepiness, difficulties with attention, and cataplexy which can certainly affect the quality of interpersonal relationships and impact performance at school or work. But some relief is surely better than none at all. Contact us today to schedule a sleep test so that you can start feeling better and living life to the fullest. The good news is that narcolepsy is a manageable condition, you just have to make the first call and we are waiting to hear from you.


The Sleep and Heart Connection

Sleep. It is as vital as breathing. In fact, without proper restorative sleep even breathing becomes a problem! Individuals who suffer from a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea experience numerous pauses in their breathing rhythm throughout the course of the night and often wake up gasping for air. Without treatment, this lack of restorative sleep can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke and even heart healthheart failure are all associated with sleep apnea.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and stroke is not far behind at number five so it is not something to take lightly. If you suspect you or a loved one might have sleep apnea, it is essential to talk to your doctor right away and be set up for a sleep study. The longer you put off treatment, the more potential damage you could be doing to your heart. In a normal sleep cycle, the heart gets an opportunity to rest; blood pressure goes down as well as heart rate. Without this break, the heart rate stays elevated which then induces high blood pressure which leads to cardiovascular disease.

The European Heart Journal conducted a study of 475,000 individuals and discovered that those who slept less than six hours a night had a 48% greater risk of developing or dying from coronary heart disease and a 15% increased risk of having or dying from a stroke. An individual who suffers from a sleep disorder sometimes never enters into restorative sleep even if they think they are sleeping, and that just plays havoc on the heart as well as other parts of the body.

The good news is that there is treatment available for sleep apnea sufferers. If a sleep study or polysomnogram (PSG) identifies a patient as having sleep apnea, they will most likely be fitted with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. A CPAP machine increases air pressure in the throat so that the airway does not become blocked during sleep; this allows the lungs to breathe properly and lets the body go into restorative sleep.

Patients who have heart arrhythmias or high blood pressure caused by sleep apnea, can oftentimes resolve the conditions by the use of a CPAP machine. Evidence has shown that proper treatment not only lowers blood pressure during the night, but it also lowers it during the day as well. Arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats are also decreased with proper treatment; sixty percent of patients never have to return for treatment of their arrhythmias after starting on a CPAP machine. Good sleep is vital, so don’t ignore it if you are not getting enough rest at night, talk to your physician and take the first step on the path to a healthier you.