Archive for August, 2017

Sleep Deprived? Check Your Blood Pressure

You’ve probably heard that getting a full night’s sleep is critical for good health, but do you know what exactly happens to the body when you don’t get enough sleep? Some of the effects are obvious. You may feel fatigued, irritable, or groggy when you haven’t slept enough the night before, but are you considering the more permanent effects of regular sleep deprivation? If you aren’t sleeping for about 7-8 hours each night, you may be putting your heart, lung, and brain health at risk due to an increased likelihood for hypertension, or high blood pressure. Though the exact link between high blood pressure and sleep loss isn’t clear, it is known that those who don’t sleep enough are at greater risk for this silent but deadly condition. If sleep apnea is the cause of your sleep loss, your risk is even higher. Therefore, you should be diligent about checking your blood pressure when you know you aren’t getting the sleep you need, and you should seek care for the condition behind your sleep loss.

How does sleep affect blood pressure?

Though there’s still more research to be done regarding the effects of sleep deprivation on blood pressure, it is clear that people who sleep 3-6 hours per night have an elevated risk of hypertension. One likely reason is the overproduction of stress hormones that occurs with sleep loss, which can place added stress on your heart and circulatory system.

Why is sleep apnea a risk factor for high blood pressure?

If you are losing sleep due to sleep apnea—which may cause you to wake up intermittently throughout the night—your risk of high blood pressure may be even higher. Sleep apnea causes oxygen levels in the blood to fall, because it will cause a person to repeatedly stop breathing during sleep. This puts even more physical stress on the heart and blood vessels, so high blood pressure is often a result of untreated sleep apnea.

Exploring the Connection Between Bone Health and Sleep Apnea

Suffering from sleep apnea means more than coping with snoring and daytime fatigue. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can affect all aspects of your health, including your bone and joint health. When you do not seek out treatment for sleep apnea, you could be putting your whole body at risk. Let’s take a closer look at how:

Your body’s regenerative process

Though you may think of your bones as solid, dead tissue, they are actually living tissues that regenerate all the time. As you wear down your body through daily activities, bone tissues break down and rebuild to stay strong. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, however, then your body may not be able to regenerate bone tissue at a healthy rate, placing you at higher risk for osteoporosis and related issues like bone fractures.

Limited resources during sleep

Not only does sleep apnea limit the amount of rest you get by causing you to wake throughout the night; it also restricts the body’s oxygen intake. With obstructive sleep apnea, the airways are restricted, and breathing is disrupted throughout the night. This limits the available resources of the body to carry out regenerative processes, which are supported by a steady supply of oxygenated blood in the circulatory system.

Reduced energy during the day

Sleep apnea may have an indirect impact on your bone health, as well. When you are bogged down by constant fatigue and sluggishness, it may be hard to get the exercise that you need to stay fit. This means that your muscle tone may decline, leaving your bones to absorb more pressure and impact from daily activities.

What Does Sleep Deprivation Do to Your Brain?

If you have ever had a rough night sleeping, you have probably felt some of the impact that sleep can have on your wellbeing. Without enough sleep, you might spend the next day feeling achy, cranky, and sluggish, and these effects will only worsen over time. When sleep apnea or other sleep disorders rob you of your nightly sleep, you may be suffering from significant neurological damage, some of which is irreversible. That’s why it’s important to seek treatment for sleep disorders sooner rather than later. Read on to understand what sleep deprivation could be doing to your brain without treatment for sleep apnea.

Physical Damage

Comparing MRI images of the brains of individuals who get enough sleep and those who are sleep deprived, it can be seen that blood flow and metabolism are reduced in sections of the brain in sleep deprived individuals. It is not entirely clear what sleep does to the brain and why it is so important for neurological health, but it is known that missing out on sleep causes direct damage to brain cells.

Mental Side Effects

Sleep deprivation may not cause the same symptoms in all people, since various parts of the brain can sustain damage. Below you can see some of the examples of common symptoms in people who regularly do not get enough sleep. These range from cognitive to emotional and behavioral effects, indicating that a lack of sleep can cause widespread issues for your health.

 

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Reduced cognitive function—trouble completing tasks involving critical thinking
  • Shorter attention span
  • Loss of emotional control
  • Longer reaction times
  • Frequent confusion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Diminished arousal

 

 

Why Your Heart Needs a Full Night’s Sleep

No matter your age, it is always important to think about your heart health and steps you can take to improve it. One of the steps to better heart health that is often overlooked is getting more restful sleep at night. If you have sleep apnea, this may be more of a challenge, but treatment is available to restore the quality of your nightly rest. When you don’t get the sleep you need, your heart may suffer.

Quality sleep may assist in weight loss.

Obesity is a leading risk factor for heart disease, and it is a complex problem. For some people, it may be difficult to lose weight without changing sleep patterns, since limiting sleep can cause more binge eating and reduced metabolism. Losing sleep may also cause you to rely too much on caffeine, which can be bad for your heart in excessive quantities.

Sleep lets the body repair vital tissues.

When you sleep, many systems in your body remain quite active. As you dream, your body is self-repairing muscle and vascular tissues, including the heart and surrounding blood vessels. If you miss out on valuable hours of sleep or you do not achieve a deep, restful sleep each night, your heart may be sustaining damage at a compounding rate.

Sleep balances hormone production.

Another benefit of adequate sleep is the regulation of hormones in the body. Hormones are chemicals that tell the body to perform various tasks, and they affect everything from metabolism to sex drive to stress perception. Therefore, an imbalance related to sleep deprivation could put significant stress on your heart.

How Losing Sleep Can Make You Hungrier

Sleep apnea has many direct effects on your health, and these conditions are reason enough to seek sleep apnea treatment that will help you sleep better. Still, it’s helpful to understand some of the indirect effects that sleep apnea may have on your health as it robs you of quality, restful sleep. If you are losing sleep at night because of sleep apnea, you might find that weight gain is an unexpected side effect. In fact, gaining weight as a result of sleep loss is common, because the body begins to rely on food to make up for a lack of energy.

Compensating for Lost Energy

If you aren’t sleeping well, you might feel hungry more often, because you need energy to get through your day. It can also be easier to reach for unhealthy grab-and-go options like fast food and processed meals, since you may not feel up for cooking when you always feel tired.

Craving Less Healthy Options

Along with more general feelings of hunger, you might feel more intense food cravings for comfort foods that are higher in fat and sugar. These foods will not only be more calorie dense and more likely to cause weight gain, but they won’t provide much nutritional content, causing you to just feel hungrier. As you continue to lose sleep, your dietary habits may suffer further and continue to affect the scale. Reaching for alcohol to try and help you sleep or caffeine to keep you awake can also have negative effects, since these substances both diminish the quality of sleep.

How Sleep Apnea Treatment Can Reduce Jaw Pain

There are many causes for jaw pain, including tooth grinding, TMJ disorders, and facial injuries. If you experience jaw pain and sleep apnea simultaneously, getting the sleep you need may feel impossible. To treat both of these issues and restore your health, you might visit your dentist to explore the possibility of using an oral appliance during your sleep. With a custom made mouth guard that fits over the teeth and positions the jaw forward, your airways will remain open as you sleep, and you may find relief from jaw pain as an added benefit. Let’s take a closer look at how non-surgical sleep apnea treatment may ease your jaw pain.

Reducing Teeth Grinding

Grinding your teeth in your sleep can wear down tooth enamel and put pressure on the jaw that manifests later as jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty opening or closing the mouth. A mouth guard designed to treat sleep apnea can also prevent tooth grinding, allowing you to eliminate all the discomforts that keep you awake at night.

Realigning the Jaw

Using an oral appliance for sleep apnea repositions the jaw in a more ideal position to keep the airways open, which is a more neutral position for the jaw. By realigning the jaw during sleep, you might expect reduced muscle strain and stiffness.

Restoring Restful Sleep

Any condition that causes chronic pain and discomfort should be treated with plenty of rest and relaxation. If you have sleep apnea, a good night’s sleep may not be possible without some type of treatment to restore the restful qualities of your sleep.

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep During Pregnancy?

When you first become pregnant, you may find yourself feeling very tired and needing to adjust your sleep schedule with more naps or longer nights of sleep. It’s normal to need more rest during pregnancy, starting in your first trimester, but it can be tough to get the sleep you need if you have a preexisting sleep disorder or you develop a sleeping problem as your hormonal levels shift. Obstructive sleep apnea is one disorder that can develop during pregnancy as you begin to carry more body weight and sleep in a different position. Fortunately, it is possible to gently and safely treat sleep apnea during pregnancy so that you may avoid the negative consequences of prenatal sleep loss discussed below.

Effects on Your Health

If you don’t get enough sleep while you’re pregnant, you might find that the physical discomforts of pregnancy as well as the mental stress are more difficult to cope with. In addition, you may have a higher risk for conditions like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, both of which may be fatal without proper care.

Effects on Childbirth

Believe it or not, losing sleep during pregnancy can have a big impact on the comfort and length of your labor and delivery. Women who get fewer than 6 hours per night on average during pregnancy may be 5 times more likely to need a C-section. Additionally, those who do deliver naturally may have a higher risk for complications and longer delivery times.

Effects on Your Baby

Sleep loss, and sleep apnea in particular, can also have a direct effect on your baby’s future health. Women with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to have children who suffer from metabolic syndrome, and the recurring loss of oxygen during sleep may also lead to developmental disabilities in children.

 

Which Respiratory Conditions Increase Your Sleep Apnea Risk?

Sleep apnea is not only a sleep disorder, it is a respiratory illness that can severely limit the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream if it goes untreated. There are many possible causes of sleep apnea, but other respiratory conditions are among the most common. If you have any of the following respiratory illnesses, you may need to be more alert to sleep apnea symptoms such as snoring, daytime fatigue, and sore throats in the morning.

Asthma

Both asthma and sleep apnea are caused by obstructions in the airways, so it makes sense that these conditions are often co-diagnosed. If you do have asthma, you may improve breathing while you sleep by changing your sleep position and losing excess pounds if you are overweight.

Allergies

Sleep apnea may result in chronic allergy sufferers, and it may be worse during allergy season for those who have it. With seasonal allergies, the airways are bombarded with pollen and dust, and the resulting inflammation can make it harder to breathe both during the day and at night.

Deviated Septum

With a deviated septum, you may have frequent nasal congestion that causes you to breathe through your mouth. As you sleep, your jaw may become positioned in such a way that the airway is restricted, making pauses in breathing more likely.

COPD

Sleep apnea often develops in older individuals, especially those who have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is common in smokers. Even if you did not have respiratory problems early in life, this condition can have a number of secondary risks—including sleep apnea.

Do You Often Wake Up with a Sore Throat? It Could Be a Sign of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep disorders can be very damaging to your health, because they often have significant effects on your body in the long-term without many easily identifiable symptoms in the short-term. In the case of sleep apnea, you may have some symptoms that are easy to attribute to other conditions, so you may struggle to get an accurate diagnosis that will facilitate the right treatment. When it is diagnosed, sleep apnea is very treatable with CPAP surgery, oral appliances, or surgery, so you should pay attention to the subtle signs that sleep apnea can bring about.

 

Sleep apnea and sore throat symptoms

If you have sleep apnea, you may feel a sore or scratchy throat in the morning when you wake up, because snoring irritates the throat. Snoring is a common trait of sleep apnea sufferers, and it may not be obvious to you while you sleep. However, it may be harder to ignore a sore, scratchy throat as well as hoarseness when you speak. If these symptoms are present each morning, sleep apnea is likely the culprit.

 

Other signs of sleep apnea

In addition to discomfort in the throat, sleep apnea can cause ongoing fatigue, irritability, muscle soreness, and memory problems. Over time, sleep apnea may lead to depression, weight gain, or anxiety as well as cardiovascular problems like high cholesterol and hypertension. That’s why it’s important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor and request a sleep study to receive an accurate diagnosis.

Can Sleep Apnea Increase Your Risk of Stroke?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder, but many people who have it don’t even realize that they have a problem. That’s because sleep apnea doesn’t cause wakefulness like insomnia, but rather, it causes pauses in breathing throughout the night. Someone with sleep apnea may wake up periodically throughout the night without knowing it, and they will feel like they did not sleep at all when they wake up in the morning. If you are familiar with this sensation, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the possibility that you have sleep apnea. When this condition is diagnosed, it is treatable with a variety of options, which can save you from serious side effects of untreated sleep apnea. One of the more worrisome effects of sleep apnea is the increased risk of stroke. You can learn more about the connection between sleep apnea and stroke below.

Effects of Sleep Apnea

Because sleep apnea limits the amount of oxygen that the body receives during sleep, the brain may sustain ongoing damage from this condition. In addition, sleep apnea tends to be associated with poor circulatory health, which has a direct tie to ischemic stroke risk. Sleep apnea sufferers may have higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, and an increased heart attack risk, and each of these factors can drive up the risk for stroke.

Common Risk Factors

Along with the risk for stroke that sleep apnea causes, you should consider the common risk factors for the two conditions. These include overweight/obesity, hereditary factors, and alcohol consumption. Taking into account the causes of sleep apnea as you seek treatment can help you address these underlying factors for better overall health.