Monday, June 30, 2008

Good Sleep Tips

The U.S. National Institutes of Health offers these tips for getting a good night's sleep:

Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
Avoid exercising closer than five or six hours before bedtime.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bed.
Avoid large meals and beverages late at night.
Don't take naps after 3 p.m.
Relax before bed, taking time to unwind with a hot bath, a good book or soothing music.
If you're still awake after more than 20 minutes in bed, get up and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Anxiety over not being able to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.

Don't forget to check out"Fast2Sleep" a non-addictive, all natural sleep aid, also look at our Healthy Sleep Store for more products and aids to help you get a good nights sleep.

Remember sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.

Until next time,

Monday, June 23, 2008

Weight Gain Linked To Lack Of Sleep

Having a hard time losing weight? Try getting a better night's sleep.

Women who sleep five hours or less per night weigh more on average than those who sleep 7 hours, according to a study presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference this week.

The study found that women who slept for five hours per night were 32 percent more likely to experience major weight gain (defined as an increase of 33 pounds or more) and 15 percent more likely to become obese over the course of the 16-year study compared with women who slept seven hours.

Women who slept for six hours were 12 percent more likely to have major weight gain and six percent more likely to become obese compared with women who slept 7 hours a night.

The study included 68,183 middle-aged women who were enrolled in the Nurses Health Study. They were asked in 1986 about their typical night's sleep, and were then asked to report their weight every two years for 16 years.

On average, women who slept five hours or less per night weighed 5.4 pounds more at the beginning of the study than those sleeping 7 hours and gained an additional 1.6 pounds over the next 10 years.

"That may not sound like much, but it is an average amount -- some women gained much more than that, and even a small difference in weight can increase a person's risk of health problems such as diabetes and hypertension," said lead researcher Sanjay Patel, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Patel noted that this is by far the largest study to track the effect of sleep habits on weight gain over time.

"There have been a number of studies that have shown that at one point in time, people who sleep less weigh more, but this is one of the first studies to show reduced sleep increases the risk of gaining weight over time."

The researchers looked at the women's diets and exercise habits to see if they could account for part of the findings.

"Prior studies have shown that after just a few days of sleep restriction, the hormones that control appetite cause people to become hungrier, so we thought that women who slept less might eat more. But in fact they ate less," Patel said. "That suggests that appetite and diet are not accounting for the weight gain in women who sleep less."

The researchers also asked women about how much they participated in exercise activities such as running, jogging or playing tennis. But they didn't find any differences in physical activity that could explain why women who slept less weighed more.

"We don't have an answer from this study about why reduced sleep causes weight gain, but there are some possibilities that deserve further study," Patel said. "Sleeping less may affect changes in a person's basal metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn when you rest)."

Another contributor to weight regulation that has recently been discovered is called non-exercise associated thermogenesis, or NEAT, which refers to involuntary activity, such as fidgeting or standing instead of sitting. It may be that if you sleep less, you move around less, too, and therefore burn up fewer calories," Patel added.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Effects of Sleep Loss

Sleep is an essential part of our daily lives and well-being. Lost sleep robs us of the opportunity to restore ourselves physically, emotionally, and even cognitively. Lost sleep and the resulting daytime sleepiness affect our mood, behavior and performance. In effect, we are how we sleep…. how we sleep at night affects who we are, what we do and how we do it during the day, although we are not always aware of many signs and symptoms as well as the costs and consequences caused by sleep disruptions. A night of seven to nine hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep becomes particularly important during times of high stress and anxiety.

"Not getting enough sleep impairs our work performance, increases the risk for injuries and makes it more difficult to get along with others," says Mark Rosekind, PhD, an expert on fatigue and performance issues. "Without sufficient sleep it is more difficult to concentrate, make careful decisions and follow instructions, we are more likely to make mistakes or errors, and are more prone to being impatient and lethargic. Our attention, memory and reaction time are all affected. But while we may recognize these symptoms, we do not always associate them as being symptoms of sleep loss," he adds. For more information about getting restful sleep click on the "Fast2Sleep" link on this page.

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sleep Apnea

What Is Sleep Apnea
by: Scott Fromherz, MD

Are you feeling sleepy all the time? Do you snore? Is your doctor having a difficult time treating your high blood pressure? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you might have Sleep Apnea (also called Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA).

Sleep Apnea is a condition involving pauses or decreases in breathing during sleep. It is usually due to airway collapse. This collapse occurs in the nose and/or the throat – anywhere from where air enters the nostrils to the back of the tongue. Imagine a straw collapsing when trying to suck on a thick milkshake. Frequently, this airway collapsibility problem is inherited and starts in childhood. In the daytime, it is not a problem because there is good muscle-tone in the airway and the brain monitors breathing. But at night, the throat muscles become relaxed and the brain is not as attentive to the airway. So on inhalation, the airway walls can either completely collapse or significantly narrow. This is a problem because 1) the body must struggle to breathe and 2) the brain has to “wake up” to reopen the airway.

These frequent awakenings lead to fragmentation of nighttime sleep. You may not remember them because they are so short. In fact, patients with sleep apnea can wake-up more than 30 times an hour and think that they slept uninterrupted through the night. Since sleep must be continuous and consolidated in order to be restorative, a number of cognitive problems can occur with sleep fragmentation: daytime sleepiness, memory problems, concentration difficulties, emotional instability, irritability, slowed reaction time, and most importantly, an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.

There are also cardiovascular consequences of this constant “struggling to breathe.” This puts a strain on the heart and blood vessels, leading to increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Finally, there are social implications to Sleep Apnea. The snoring associated with sleep apnea can disrupt the sleep of others. In fact, one study showed that when a person treats his/her sleep apnea, the sleep partner gets the equivalent of one hour more sleep per night.
Sleep apnea is a progressive disease and often gets worse with age. Weight gain, alcohol, and other sedating/relaxing substances exacerbate it.

Who Gets Sleep Apnea?
A common misconception is that only overweight men that snore loudly have sleep apnea, but the facts are:
1) Sleep apnea can occur without snoring
2) Thin people can have sleep apnea
3) Women can have sleep apnea
4) Children can have sleep apnea
In other words, anyone can have it. Even skinny women. Even children.
I Think I Might Have Sleep Apnea, How Do I Find Out If I Have It?
Make an appointment with your primary care physician, or if your insurance allows it, go straight to a sleep specialist. If your physician thinks you might have sleep apnea, then he/she can refer you for a sleep study or comprehensive sleep evaluation.

How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
There are four main categories of treatment for sleep apnea: Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), Surgery, Oral Appliances, and Behavioral Modification.
The most effective way to treat sleep apnea is with CPAP. CPAP is a mask worn over the nose attached by a hose to an air compressor. The air compressor gently and quietly blows room-air into the nose, which “stents” the airway open, preventing airway collapse. This is the most effective way to treat sleep apnea, and all patients diagnosed with sleep apnea should at least try it before considering other options.
Surgery can be an effective way to treat sleep apnea. A number of different procedures can be performed. These range from nasal septum repair to jaw reconstruction. Talk to your doctor about whether surgery is the right option for you.
An oral appliance is a device made by a dentist or an orthodontist designed to pull your lower jaw forward. By pulling your lower jaw forward, the tongue is pulled away from the back of the throat. If your airway obstruction is occurring behind the tongue, then this can be an effective way to treat your sleep apnea. The treatment of sleep apnea with oral appliance should be a coordinated effort between the sleep physician, the dentist/orthodontist, and the patient.

Behavioral modifications can help in the treatment of sleep apnea, but are usually the least effective. These include such techniques as weight loss, sleeping on your side, and avoiding alcohol before bedtime.
None of these treatment options is ideal, but they all can be useful in treating sleep apnea and resulting in more restful sleep. With risks like heart attack and stroke, you should do everything you can to get your sleep apnea under control. If you think you have sleep apnea, contact your doctor or go to a sleep center. It could be the best decision you ever made.

About The AuthorDr. Scott Fromherz is a sleep physician. He and his partner, Dr. Daniel Root, operate Oregon Sleep Associates, Located in downtown Portland, Oregon, Oregon Sleep Associates is the premier sleep center in the northwest. They serve the needs of both pediatric and adult sleep populations.

Please feel free to browse our Healthy Sleep Store for sleep aids and other helpful items.

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quality Sleep is Elusive

More than 60 million Americans have problems achieving it. Twenty-five percent take a sleep aid to accomplish it. And it costs the nation an estimated $35 billion annually to treat it.

Not only can this challenge make your nights long and restless, it can also mean lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, blurry vision, irritability and memory loss during the day. If the challenge persists without some type of intervention, it can lead to depression, poor health and accidents. And while prescription sleep aids are much better than they were decades ago many still have significant warnings regarding risk of dependency and side affects.

It’s never been more important to seek natural sleep aids.

More to come,