Sleep Disorders and the dangers when ignoring them

daytime sleepinessPeriodically people may ignore the signs of a health problem. Whether it is a cold or shooting pain, in the back of their mind they hope it will pass without having to take a trip to the doctor.  Unfortunately, when ignoring the signs of a sleep disorder, the symptoms are not temporary and can lead to poor health, relationship stress and impaired job performance.

The most common sleep disorder is known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  Obstructive sleep apnea is when an individual repeatedly stops breathing while sleeping due to the throat muscles relaxing and blocking the airway.  The problem is people are not aware that snoring is the most noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Other signs may be insomnia, chronic fatigue, sleepwalking, headaches in the morning, suddenly stop breathing during the night and daytime sleepiness.

When ignoring any of these signs and not speaking to a physician or sleep specialist the end results could be high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and depression. In some cases sleep apnea can be life-threatening.

Are you constantly tossing and turning in the middle of the night? Maybe waking up multiple times during the night and early in the morning? You may possibly be suffering from insomnia. Insomnia is another disorder that you do not want to ignore; it will only get worse. Ultimately your health will degenerate. Your overall work performance will decline.  You will become irritable of others along with mood changes towards loved one. Insomnia is basically your body telling you something is wrong. Eventually insomnia can lead to obstructive sleep apnea or even fatality.

Other sleep disorders you may be suffering from could be shift work sleeping problems, circadian rhythm sleep disorders, or narcolepsy. The ending results of ignoring these sleep disorders could be cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and disrupted social schedules.

If you are a loved one are experiencing any symptoms such as chronic fatigue, sleepwalking, snoring, or stop breathing in the middle of the nigh contact your physician or a sleep specialist. The risk of putting it off is too high and the sooner you are diagnosed that faster treatment can start.

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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.

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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.

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What to Expect During a Sleep Study

Sleep studies are an important tool used to conclusively diagnose a sleeping disorder. Doctors will often recommend a patient have a sleep study performed if it is suspected that they might suffer from sleep apnea, narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep related seizures or some other form of sleep disorder. There are several different types of sleep studies that are conducted, but the most common is the polysomnogram (PSG), which is used to help diagnose sleep apnea, sleep-related seizures and restless leg syndrome.
What to expect during a sleep study
During a PSG, you will usually stay overnight in a sleep center; the nurses or technicians will make the room as comfortable as possible and answer any questions or concerns you might have regarding the test. Once you are settled in bed, adhesive patches with sensors, called electrodes, will then be placed on various parts of your body, typically on the scalp, chest, face, arms, legs and a finger. Elastic belts will also be placed around the chest and abdomen to measure chest expansion and the strength and duration of inhaled and exhaled breaths.

The wires attached to the electrodes are very thin and flexible, and are bundled together so you can move about fairly easily, without feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmingly restricted. As you sleep, the electrodes record brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, heart rhythm, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels. This data is then transmitted to a monitor in another room where the technicians are able to monitor your sleep patterns.

If you show symptoms of sleep apnea during the procedure, it may be decided to transfer your PSG into a split-night sleep study. During a split-night sleep study, you will continue to sleep the first half of the night and then be woken up so you can be fitted with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask. A CPAP machine is a small machine that softly blows air into the mask, creating pressure that helps to keep your airway open during sleep.

The technician will periodically check how you are sleeping with the CPAP mask, while continuing to monitor all the same vitals as during the beginning of the PSG. They will then make air flow adjustments as needed or exchange the mask to achieve optimum breathing results and to get the most comfortable fit.

Once the sleep study is complete, the electrodes will be removed and you will be able to go home. Your test will then be carefully evaluated, and a sleep specialist will consult with your doctor to determine a diagnosis. If you are found to have some sort of sleep disorder, your doctor will discuss the right treatment options for you.

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Do I Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea… you’ve heard it talked about, know people who have been diagnosed with it, and considering how tired you have been lately maybe you Sleep Apneaare wondering if YOU could possibly have this condition. Sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder, and it is estimated that more than 42 million Americans suffer from some form of it; but how can you tell if you are one of those affected?

The three most common signs of obstructive sleep apnea are:

• Excessive sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
• Loud and insistent snoring
• Long pauses in breathing often accompanied with gasping while sleeping

While these are the most common symptoms, and most people with sleep apnea have them, they are not the only warning signs. Sleep apnea is also linked to hypertension (high blood pressure), frequent nighttime urination, waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat, depression, excessive weight or obesity and a chronic morning headache.

It is possible for anyone to develop this sleep disorder, however there are some individuals who have an increased risk of developing sleep apnea:

• Males over the age of 40
• Being overweight
• A family history of sleep apnea
• Having allergies
• Having a large neck or tongue
• Have any sort of nasal obstruction or sinus problem

The only way to positively determine if you have sleep apnea is to have a sleep study done. However, the first step we recommend to anyone who thinks they might be suffering from a sleep disorder is to take our online assessment. Depending on your results, you might then be prompted to follow up with a sleep study.

During a sleep study, we will record multiple biological functions while the patient is sleeping; we will monitor such things are brain wave activity, eye movement, muscle tone, heart rhythm and breathing via electrodes and monitors placed on the head, chest and legs. After the sleep study is completed, our team of doctors will be able to accurately diagnose whether or not a patient does in fact have a sleep apnea or some other type of sleep disorder.

There are several approaches to treating sleep disorders; it might be as simple as a few lifestyle changes such as losing weight or avoiding alcohol. In more severe cases however, a patient may be given medication, oxygen or a device called continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP). If you or a loved one thinks they might have a sleep disorder, don’t wait to have it checked out. Individuals with undiagnosed sleep apnea often go on to develop more serious conditions such as depression or diabetes and they also have an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks among other problems.

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