What Determines Sleep Quality?

Alex Lucio What Determines Sleep Quality_

There are many factors that help figure out of we’re getting a good night of rest. Going to bed on time and getting the recommended amount of sleep helps you both physically and mentally. A proper amount of sleep lowers blood pressure and boosts energy levels. But what exactly helps us sleep well? The answer is good quality sleep; here’s how to determine your quality of sleep.


Time in Bed: Great sleep quality means being asleep for 85 percent of the time you’re actually in bed. Hopping into bed doesn’t mean you’re getting the necessary rest that comes from sleep. Try not to bring electronics like cell phones or laptops to bed with you; cut out television time as well. All of this makes it harder for you to fall asleep and could stress you out (like watching something scary or action packed).


Quickly Falling Asleep: How quickly you fall asleep is a major factor in quality sleep. If you’re able to drift off right when you get into bed, you’ll have a better rest than someone who takes a long time to fall asleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Experts say that the ability to fall asleep in 30 minutes or less is a good indication that your sleep quality is high.” Don’t worry if you can’t sleep right away, creating a relaxing sleep environment and pre-bed routine will help you!


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Is There a Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Weight?

Alex Lucio Sleep Apnea and Weight

There are many correlations between sleep apnea (specifically, OSA) and health. According to the National Sleep Foundation OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) affects 3% to 7% of the United States population. Being overweight along with other factors such as nasal congestion and small airways are all common causes of this sleep disorder. But, did you know that half of sleep apnea patients are overweight? Here’s what we can learn from the connection between sleep apnea and weight.


Weight Gain Leading to Sleep Apnea:

Weight gain leads to a buildup of fat in the neck area and it can put pressure on the airways, causing sleep apnea to occur. BMI and neck circumference are the two main markers that point to an increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea. A BMI of 25-29.9 and above is considered obese; as well as a neck circumferences of 17 inches in men and 15 inches in women. Luckily, there’s one main way to decrease BMI and neck circumference, exercise. Weight loss can help to improve OSA all together.  


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New Screening Tool for Epileptic Sleep Apnea Patients

Having to deal with sleep apnea is already difficult, but if you combine it with another disorder, such as epilepsy, it can be much more dangerous because the seizures can be triggered by a lack of oxygen that happens when someone’s sleep is obstructed. To compound the problem, the Epilepsy Foundation has estimated that approximately 40% of people diagnosed with epilepsy have a higher disposition towards obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) than other people.

According to a study that was published in the journal Neurology Clinical Practice, epileptic patients have not been typically evaluated in previous years even though they run a higher risk of developing OSA. Fortunately, there is a new electronic screening tool that is being developed for neurologists so that they can help diagnose apnea in epileptic patients. The reason this is revolutionary is that it’s the first time a patient’s electronic health record will be a contributing factor in helping neurologists make this assessment. This early detection is vital because it means precautions can be taken to help those people who are suffering from both of these conditions simultaneously. Some of the benefits will include better seizure control, a decrease in the need for antiepileptic medications and a reduction of the onset of sudden, unforeseen death.

The researchers cultivated their findings based on data that examined 12 risk factors, and all of these considerations were attainable from the patient’s electronic health record. An alert was set to go off based on factors, and some of the risk factors that they looked at were: a person’s body mass index (greater than 30 was a flag); snoring, choking or gasping for air while asleep; repeatedly waking up during the night, and having morning headaches. Other morning data included whether the patients woke up with a dry mouth, sore throat or a tightening of the chest. In addition to all these factors, they also looked at the frequency of nighttime urination, whether the person’s neck circumference was larger than 17 inches, and whether the patient exhibited a reduction in memory and concentration, to name just a few. If the alerts showed that a patient showed at least two potential risk factors, they were referred to a clinic to have a sleep study. The idea behind this research was to hopefully diagnose epileptic patients who otherwise would have gone unnoticed as potential candidates for sleep apnea therapy.

The findings were very dramatic. For patients without an electronic alert, only 7% were referred for sleep studies and 56% of them were diagnosed with sleep apnea. Out of the 405 cases with an alert attached to their record, 33% were referred for sleep studies, and 87% of those who completed the study were diagnosed with sleep apnea.

This article was originally published on alexlucio.net.

Future Sleep Apnea Treatments

Roughly 20 million Americans suffer from one of three types of sleep apnea. The most common form is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and it is characterized by a closing of the airways during sleep. Contributing factors to OSA are smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption, and sleeping on one’s back. Fortunately, there is lots of buzz lately about advancements in technology regarding this disorder.

The typical person gets diagnosed with sleep apnea after hearing from loved ones or even noticing themselves that they are showing the following symptoms: being awakened by loud snoring or gasping for air during the night, morning headaches, dry mouth, irritability, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Your doctor should immediately be consulted if you experience any of these symptoms, just to rule out the possibility of sleep apnea.

The next step towards getting diagnosed is to take part in a sleep study. During an overnight sleep study, electrodes are attached to a person’s face and body and the person is monitored by a technician all night long. The resulting diagnosis ranges from a  low to high severity, which translates to a numerical pressure setting on a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. This is a machine that the person takes home and uses thereafter every night. The CPAP is not designed to cure OSA, it’s merely a way to prevent further harm caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain whenever breathing stops. While it may seem awkward to use and hard to adapt, it is very important to not let OSA go untreated because it can lead to other health risks such as a stroke or heart failure, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, or even a heart attack. It has also been linked to an increase in diabetes, depression, and frequent headaches.

Until recently, people with OSA have had to get by with current CPAP technology. This includes the painstaking time and effort needed daily to clean out all hoses and the bulky humidifier, as well as purchasing copious amounts of distilled water for the device. Because of this, many people abandon their CPAP machines out of frustration. Future technology will make the humidifiers and tubing easier to disassemble and clean and make the entire unit more compact, which will appeal to travelers. In addition, the software that is built-in to the unit will be getting smarter so people will be able to download and analyze their own data. Another feature that is being discussed is the advent of infrared or UV-light technology to purify the air as the person inhales all night long. There is also talk of custom-molded CPAP masks designed to perfectly fit a person’s face. Doctors are optimistic this will go a long way towards user compliance when it comes to actually using these machines.

This article was originally published on alexlucio.net.

What’s the Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Strokes?

Obstructive sleep apnea is dangerous for many reasons. Most people just think about the fact that this condition means you will stop breathing in your sleep. This is scary enough. However, obstructive sleep apnea can increase the chances of other conditions as well, including having a stroke.


When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing. This leads to a decrease of oxygen to the brain and an increase in blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke. Furthermore, these factors harm the brain’s ability to prevent it from being damaged. Because you are having these episodes multiple times throughout the nights, it reduces the brain’s ability to meet its own metabolic needs.


Sleep apnea affects your entire body because your body is trying to force you to take a breath. While all its resources are being devoted to this one task, many other functions are negatively affected. Sleep apnea’s effect on the vascular parts of the brain can cause a stroke.


It is important to get treated for sleep apnea because it can result in a catastrophe. Treating the sleep apnea can reduce to chance of stroke, high blood pressure, and other conditions. Sleep apnea doubles the chance of stroke in men. Worldwide, stroke is a significant cause of death, ranking second. There have been many studies, confirming the link between sleep apnea and stroke.


It is an important condition to get under control because if you have a stroke during sleep, it may not become apparent until the morning. This delay is important because if more than three hours have passed before getting treatment, the doctors will not be able to administer drugs that will reverse the effect of the stroke.


Since there is a significant link between stroke and sleep apnea, people diagnosed with sleep apnea need to take steps to reduce the occurrences of both conditions. If you have not been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but you exhibit some of the signs, you should be tested. For instance, if you are always tired, even after a full nights sleep, or you have loud snoring, you might have sleep apnea.


Taking charge of your health and contacting the right doctors to educate you on your conditions is key. Without intervention for your sleep apnea, you may suffer a stroke and be left with its devastating effects.


Originally posted at AlexLucio.net

Sleep Apnea and Driver Fatigue

Sleep is top safety concern in the transportation industry. The public demands that drivers be well-rested before taking commercial vehicles on the road, and trucking companies understand it’s imperative to prevent accidents, but regulations that enforce required sleep minimums aren’t always the answer.

There is increasing industry recognition that among the many conditions for which anyone behind the wheel should be treated is sleep apnea — a disorder that can cause breathing to pause hundreds of time per night, triggering momentary wakefulness that leaves the sufferer feeling sleep deprived the following day. For drivers, this can result in fatigue, impaired judgment and slowed reaction times despite having had the required hours of sleep.

According to The Federal Motor Vehicle Carrier Safety Administration, up to 13 percent of accidents involving commercial trucks may be the direct result of drivers who are too tired to be working safely. What’s worse, the organization believes that truckers have a rate of sleep apnea up to four times higher than the general population, in part due to the lifestyle challenges of being on the road.

While a physician may declare a driver medically ineligible to drive due to an unsafe condition, the rules governing sleep apnea are vague. Since both the cost of testing for the disorder and the equipment necessary to treat it are cost-prohibitive for many, it’s likely that not all recommendations receive follow-up.

Unlike conditions such as diabetes, there are no simple tests that can show how a driver with sleep apnea is affected and if they’re compliant with prescribed treatment.

Industry experts suggest that changing how transportation companies see the threat of sleep apnea can help mitigate the risk. In addition to fears that apnea-associated symptoms may result in accidents, employers are also acknowledging the cost of fatigue in terms of productivity. Several major companies have realized significant health cost savings as well as performance improvements by implementing fatigue reduction programs that specifically include the treatment of sleep apnea.

Until there is a clear and fair regulatory solution to address the problem of sleep apnea among commercial drivers, preventing it’s potentially deadly consequences remains a partnership between drivers and their employers. With a collaborative effort, it can be a win for both the transportation industry and the public.


Originally posted at AlexLucio.net

The Importance of Treating Sleep Disorders in Fibromyalgia Patients

According to the National Institute of Arthritis, a significant number of individuals, especially the middle-aged women, are experiencing a medical problem that is characterized by stiffness of muscles and extreme pain known as fibromyalgia. This group of individuals also experience joint pains at night while others have sleeping problems. In fact, a large number of fibromyalgia patients have sleeping problems. It is necessary and vital to treat sleeping disorders for people with this health condition for a couple of benefits in particular.


Helps in Eliminating Cognitive Disorders

People with fibromyalgia are said to have a low quality of sleep and additional sleep disorders. Treating sleeping disorders from these patients will help them in eliminating the cognitive problems, a majority of which are associated with lack of quality sleeping. This will help them to have clarity of mind while others will have a clear memory that can help them to remember without difficulties.


Enhance Body Restoration

The body of an individual is made in such a way that it restores itself when one is sleeping. Most of the worn out cells are repaired while sleeping while dead cells are replaced at the same time. However, people with fibromyalgia experience sleeping problems, which means they do not sleep well. Treating sleeping disorders will help these individuals to enhance the restoration of their body. All the dead cells and worn out cells will be replaced and repaired at this time.


Improve Pain Threshold

Poor sleep has been known to lower pain thresholds. Individuals with fibromyalgia are more sensitive to pain. This condition makes them escalate pain levels in an already painful body, which makes it a bad experience for an individual with this condition. Sleeping disorder will enhance the pain threshold of a patient with fibromyalgia, which makes the pain manageable and tolerable.


Enhance Emotional Balance

Emotional resilience and emotional balance are essential skills to a person with fibromyalgia. However, most of the people with sleeping disorders experience unrefreshing and insufficient sleep which affects the emotional stability of a person with this condition. Most of the individuals with fibromyalgia conditions will always be stressed while at the same time experiencing other psychological problems that will escalate the issue. Treating sleeping problems will not only enhance the mental state of an individual but will improve their emotional balance.


Originally posted at AlexLucio.net