Monday, November 28, 2011

Importance of REM Sleep Another Reason to Seek Sleep Apnea Treatment

There are a number of reasons why it’s important to treat sleep apnea, many of them related to the fact that sleep apnea can increase your risk for severe health problems including hypertension, heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure.

Sometimes ignored in the wake of these potentially life-threatening complications is the fact that sleep apnea prevents those who suffer from the condition from receiving a good night’s sleep. Sleep apnea is especially disruptive to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the state of deep sleep associated with dreaming.

And recent research conducted at the University of California at Berkeley indicates that REM sleep is integral for reasons other than leaving you refreshed and alert. According to researchers, dreaming eases the stress associated with painful memories.

“During REM sleep, memories are being reactivated, put in perspective, and connected and integrated, but in a state where stress neurochemicals are beneficially suppressed,” said Els van der Helm, one of the study’s lead authors. The study was published in the Nov. 23 edition of Current Biology.

Research focused on 35 adult participants divided into two groups. The members of each group viewed 150 images intended to trigger emotions twice, 12 hours apart, as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner measured their brain activity.

Half of the participants looked at the images in the morning and evening, remaining awake between the viewings. The other 50 percent viewed the images in the evening and the next morning, following a full night’s sleep.

Those who slept between the viewings reported a lessened emotional reaction on second exposure to the images. Researchers also recorded brain activity while participants slept and found that certain electrical activity patterns decreased during REM sleep, indicating that reduced levels of brain neurochemicals associated with stress tempered emotional reactions.

The benefits of deep, REM sleep are just another reason to seek diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea if you suffer any symptoms of this dangerous sleep disorder.

If you experience chronic snoring or other symptoms of sleep apnea, please contact a dentist near you who specializes in sleep disorders.

Friday, November 18, 2011

You Don’t Have to Bear Sleep Apnea

Recently, a Japanese-developed robotic pillow that resembles a stuffed polar bear has received attention as a potential treatment for snoring and sleep apnea.

The bear pillow, which you can see in this video, features a sensor that detects the decibel levels of your snoring. When your snoring reaches a preset level, the bear’s paw moves to brush your face, ostensibly stopping your snoring and returning you to restful sleep.

The device also monitors blood-oxygen levels, and if its sensors detect that your levels are too low, the bear’s paw will also be activated.

Although the bear pillow is being touted as a sleep apnea treatment, its effectiveness is questionable at best. The bear pillow, known as Jukusui-kun, which translates as “deep sleep,” does not address the cause of sleep apnea, which is most often an airway obstruction.

In addition to not treating the cause, the bear pillow may also jar an individual back into consciousness. Proven sleep apnea treatments are designed to maintain your airflow while allowing you to sleep through the night.

If you suffer from snoring and other symptoms of sleep apnea, there are effective treatment options available. To learn more about sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment, please contact a dentist who specializes in sleep disorders near you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sleep Apnea and Driving Dangers

As the health risks of sleep apnea have become apparent and an increasing number of effective treatment options become have become available, more people have been willing to seek diagnosis and help for this dangerous sleep disorder.

Individuals in one demographic group, however, may actually purposely conceal the symptoms of sleep apnea for fear of losing their jobs. Truckers interviewed for a recent sleep apnea article in the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader said reporting snoring or other signs of sleep apnea can result in difficulty being cleared to drive.

One of the side-effects of sleep apnea is drowsiness during waking hours, a complication that is of concern to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which oversees commercial trucking. A 2002 study sponsored by the FMCSA indicated that nearly one-third of commercial truck drivers may suffer from sleep apnea.

Truckers who hold commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) undergo physical exams and sleep screenings every other year. Drivers already diagnosed with sleep apnea undergo annual evaluations.

The sleep-related segments of these reviews entail questionnaires about sleeping habits and sleep disorder symptoms, as well as a physical trial known as the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test, which monitors a subject’s ability to remain alert in a quiet, dimly lit room for extended periods.

One trucker interviewed for the Nov. 14 News-Leader story said, “Anybody with a CDL knows you’re never supposed to tell the medical doctor that you snore. If you have sleep apnea, you’re a liability to the company.”

Unfortunately, failure to seek sleep apnea treatment can result in hazards to both the individual with the sleep disorder and others who are put at risk when someone who suffers from sleep apnea drives while drowsy.

If you experience the symptoms of sleep apnea, there are a number of successful treatment options available. To learn more about sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment, please contact a dentist who specializes in sleep apnea near you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Study Finds Link between Sleep Apnea, Obesity and Cognitive Abilities in Kids

Individually, sleep apnea, obesity and cognitive problems can be a source of behavior problems and dysfunction in children. But new research indicates these conditions may be connected and can actually aggravate the effects of one another.

A study conducted at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital and Pritzker School of Medicine focused on more than 350 children between the ages of 6 and 10. The children underwent testing related to sleep, cognitive skills and body weight, and researchers discovered that the three factors have an interactive association.

For example, cognitive abilities can be negatively impacted by problems such as sleep disorders and obesity. Likewise, according to the study published in this week’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, “poorer integrative mental processing may place a child at a bigger risk for adverse health outcomes.”

Although the study did not establish the causal relationship between sleep apnea, obesity and cognitive skills, the research is notable for being the first to probe all three factors simultaneously. Previous studies have evaluated the conditions separately, although prior research has also indicated a link between sleep disorders and obesity.

This study suggests that when physicians examine children’s obesity issues, they should also screen for cognitive problems and sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea.

To learn more about sleep apnea diagnosis and sleep apnea treatment for children, please contact a dentist who specializes in sleep disorders near you.