Sleep Dallas provides life-changing treatment options for patients suffering from sleep issues such as snoring and persistent fatigue, as well as diagnosed sleep disorders like sleep apnea. Sleep Dallas is focused on oral appliance therapies and orthodontics as alternatives to conventional treatments options that many users find to be ineffective.
It’s not rocket science: a good night’s sleep makes you feel good, energetic, and productive, while a poor night’s sleep often makes you feel anxious, foggy, irritable, or even downright sick. And, in fact, it’s true that sleep is inextricably linked to a number of health factors. People who get enough sleep typically maintain and lose weight more easily, have better memory and cognition, and are more productive. They also reduce their risk of depression, heart disease, stroke and diabetes as compared to those who do not get enough sleep. Sleep is so important that the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes insufficient sleep as a ‘public health problem.’
Among the many factors that affect sleep quality and duration, one frequent struggle that Americans face is an inability to fall and/or stay asleep. As a result, they turn to a variety of strategies to de-stress and relax into a state of mind that is conducive to falling asleep. One of the most common of these strategies is enjoying a nightcap (or two!) in the evening hours or just before bed.
A depressant, alcohol helps induce a state of relaxation and drowsiness, which explains why up to 20% of the population uses it as a sleep aid. In a 2013 review on the connection between sleep and alcohol, which covered twenty-seven studies, the general consensus was that alcohol reduces the time it takes to fall asleep. That does not, however, mean that it will help you get quality rest. With regards to sleep, alcohol is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Sleep problems associated with alcohol consumption
Numerous studies have shown that alcohol has a profound effect on our sleep and sleep quality. Below are a few of the significant ways that it can negatively modify or influence our natural sleep habits.
Alcohol inhibits REM sleep –– As the body metabolizes alcohol, we spend more time in deep, slow-wave sleep and less time in REM sleep. While that may sound like a good thing, it’s actually a modification of our biologically driven sleep architecture, which is fine-tuned to meet the needs of our mental and physical health and well-being. REM sleep is vital for restoring the mind and helping to process memories and emotions.
Alcohol interrupts naturally occurring sleep patterns — Alcohol also affects our circadian rhythm, which operates as the body’s biological clock by alternating our cycles of sleepiness and alertness. The consumption of alcohol interferes with how the clock synchronizes itself, meaning you might find that you wake up earlier in the morning, you sweat during the night, and/or you’re more likely to snore.
Alcohol can potentially exacerbate breathing problems — Alcohol causes our muscles to relax beyond the point they would sans alcohol, including the muscles in our throat that keep our airway open. For anyone with a sleep breathing condition such as persistent snoring, UARS, or sleep apnea (diagnosed or undiagnosed), this is particularly worrisome for your ability to get quality sleep.
In addition to the above, alcohol can also lead to frequent waking to get up and use the restroom and an increased risk for sleepwalking and sleep eating.
Does all this mean that you shouldn’t enjoy a drink prior to bed? Not necessarily. Many of the negative effects of alcohol on sleep can be greatly reduced or eliminated by changing the amount you consume at one time and by increasing the amount of time between your last drink and your bedtime.
With or without alcohol consumption as a consideration, if you think you might be suffering from a sleep breathing condition such as persistent snoring or sleep apnea, contact Dr. Kent Smith of Sleep Dallas or a sleep expert in your area who can help you diagnose and treat your condition.
It is well-researched and widely accepted that sleep is a major contributing factor to overall health and wellness. Yet, when compared to other factors like diet and exercise, it is an often overlooked or compromised priority that takes a backseat in the cadence of our daily lives. According to the the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. In Dallas, the 2017 American Fitness Index report showed that only 67 percent of Dallas area residents were getting the recommended minimum of seven or more hours of sleep per day — one of several factors contributing to Dallas ranking 38th of 50 on the index, which measures health and community fitness at the metropolitan level in the United States.
Furthermore, the CDC regards insufficient sleep as a ‘public health problem’. Studies have shown a number of serious impacts of not getting enough quality sleep, some of which include:
Increased risk of death or injury due to drowsy driving
Increased risk of workplace accidents, resulting in death or injury
Increased risk of developing a host of comorbidities, such as depression, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes
In an attempt to bring awareness to the issue, Dr. Kent Smith of Sleep Dallas invited Dallas area residents with sleep challenges to participate in his 30-Day Sleep Challenge, in which they would prioritize sleep by implementing strategies to improve sleep hygiene, sleep quality and sleep efficiency. Prior to the 30-Day Sleep Challenge, all participants completed a pre-assessment sleep survey to measure the current state of their sleep quality and efficiency, as well as their personal sleep habits. Key findings from the pre-assessment study, which have been detailed in the survey’s Executive Summary, reveal some interesting data about the state of sleep in Dallas.
Most notably, the pre-challenge survey discovered that nearly two-thirds of the study respondents do not meet the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep on weeknights. Additionally, the study showed that participants continuously engage in electronic device usage one hour prior to bedtime – a known factor impeding sleep quality.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of adults in the United States get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night. And that’s despite the fact that it’s well-researched and widely accepted that adequate sleep is a major contributor to our overall health and well-being, physically and mentally.
Clearly, there are various factors that contribute to one’s sleep habits and ability to get sufficient sleep, but two key factors over which we have (almost) complete control are our sleep environment and bedtime routine. Even just a few tweaks to our bedroom and/or lifestyle habits can have a significant impact on our sleep quality.
Create the Ideal Sleep Environment
Noise Reduce as much in-home and external noise as possible.
Turn off the TV, radio, and other devices
Put your phone on silent or vibrate
If there are outside noises over which you have little control, consider using a white noise machine or fan to help “drown out” the sudden or periodic noises that can pierce the silence and interrupt sleep.
Bedroom Temperature The body is designed to sleep better at cooler temperatures; in fact, our body temperature naturally drops in the evening to prepare us for slumber.
For most people, the optimal temperature for sleeping is between 60-67 degrees. It may take a bit of experimentation to find your ideal sleeping temperature, so spend a few nights playing with the thermostat and/or the amount of blankets on your bed.
Also consider your sleepwear. Pajamas made of cotton are ideal as they are breathable and can help prevent overheating. Many people also like to sleep with as little clothing as possible, which has many potential benefits, including temperature regulation.
Light Light stimulates alertness and affects your body’s sleep rhythms. All artificial light — especially the blue light emitted by digital devices such as TVs, computers, tablets, and phones — tricks the body into slowing its production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep, which can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Ways to reduce or eliminate light in the bedroom:
Avoid using any electronic devices, including the TV, computer, e-reader, tablet, and phone at least one hour prior to bedtime
Install heavy curtains or blackout blinds
If you use an alarm clock, put them on the other side of the room and turn them away from you
Consider using electrical tape to cover bright blue lights from electronics
In addition to your sleep environment, a proper and consistent bedtime routine is extremely important as it triggers metabolic and mental responses that help the mind and body slow down. A few keys for a sleep-inducing bedtime routine include:
Dim the lights in the evening. As discussed above, light stimulates the brain and encourages wakefulness. Get in the habit of dimming the lights to as low as possible in the evening hours.
Prepare for the next day. Anxiety and stress are common sleep-inhibiting factors. One way to reduce them is to prepare for the next day before going to bed. Set out your clothes, make your lunch, and gather the items you’ll need to leave the house with.
Establish a relaxing wind down ritual. Make a cup of caffeine-free tea. Take a relaxing bath or shower. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Spend time meditating or stretching. Whatever activity you choose, make sure it’s relaxing and that you do it consistently each night.
Calculate bedtime and wake up hours and stick to it! Don’t forget that you need at least seven full hours for a proper night’s rest, and your bedtime and waking hours should be consistent, regardless of the day of the week. Social jet lag (sleeping longer on the weekends to make up for lost sleep during the week) is extremely common, but can be detrimental to your natural circadian rhythm.
If, after implementing the strategies outlined above, you still struggle to get seven hours of sleep each night, or despite getting sufficient sleep, continue to wake up fatigued, you may be suffering from an underlying sleep condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated by a sleep specialist. Contact Dr. Kent Smith at Sleep Dallas to learn more.
You’ve probably noticed that a good night’s sleep makes you feel good, while a poor night’s sleep can make you feel anxious, foggy, irritable, or even downright sick. And, in fact, it’s true that sleep is linked to a number of health factors.People who get enough sleep typically maintain and lose weight more easily, have better memory, cognition, and productivity, and reduce their risk of depression, heart disease, stroke and diabetes as compared to those who do not get enough sleep. Sleep is so important that the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes insufficient sleep as a ‘public health problem’.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Here in Dallas, we’re tracking pretty closely to the national average. The 2017 American Fitness Index report showed that only 67% of Dallas area residents were getting seven or more hours of sleep per day — a factor contributing to Dallas ranking 38th of 50 on the index, which measures health and community fitness at the metropolitan level in the United States.
The good news is that most people can meet their sleep needs by practicing good sleep hygiene. Often, a few behavioral and environmental changes are all that’s needed to turn a poor sleeper into a sound sleeper. And that’s what this challenge is all about. Over the next 30 days, we’ll guide you through a series of guidelines and challenges designed to help you create a more sleep-friendly environment, tweak your diet and exercise program to support your sleep needs, and introduce a consistent, healthy bedtime routine that promotes quality sleep.
(Printable PDF version available at bottom of post.)
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
The average American adult needs a minimum of seven hours of sleep every 24-hour period. As you might expect, individual needs vary from person-to-person, and change with age.
National Sleep Foundation: Recommended Sleep
If on average your sleep duration falls within the “normal” range, this simple alarm clock test can help you assess whether you’re getting enough sleep to meet your own personal needs.
If you typically wake without the aid of an alarm clock, or naturally wake up ahead of your alarm, you’re probably getting enough sleep. Congratulations!
If you rely on your alarm clock to wake you and then struggle to wake up, you may not be getting enough sleep, or may need to adjust your sleep schedule to better fit your personal rhythm.
What Sleep Does For Your Body
Sleep can be thought of as the ultimate maintenance opportunity for your body. Your heart rate, respiration, and blood flow all begin to slow as you sink more deeply into slumber. As you fall further into deep REM sleep, your “muscle tone” (contraction of your muscles) reaches almost zero – none of your muscles are engaged in activity.
This period of rest gives your body the time it needs to repair damage to tissue and muscles, and rebuild stamina in your body. Human growth hormone, which is secreted in its highest quantities during sleep, plays a key part in the optimization of muscle and tissue recovery and growth.
Further physiological impacts include low respiration, blood flow, and heart rate, which allows your cardiovascular system time to rest. These hours of prolonged, lowered heart rate are extremely valuable to maintaining a healthy heart.
What Sleep Does For Your Brain
Sleep is also hugely beneficial to your brain. Most predominant scientific theories involve “consolidation” – the idea that the brain uses the restful times of sleep to categorize, organize, and store thoughts and memories in the mind.
Current research indicates that sleep may be a way in which memories and other important information can be moved from “short-term” storage in the brain into stronger, long-term memory banks. This allows the mind to empty itself of what it has processed during the course of the day and store important information for long-term retrieval.
Essentially, what happens in the brain during sleep can be thought of as similar to what happens in the body – a long period of rest allows the brain to restore itself and prepare for another day.
Improving Your Sleep
So how can you optimize your own sleep to achieve the physical and mental benefits enjoyed by those who regularly get enough sleep? During this challenge, we’ll focus on evaluating and adjusting a series of environmental and behavioral factors that have a significant impact on sleep. Each week, we’ll assign a mini-challenge to help you address the issues that most find hardest to change or overcome. Starting on January 13, and for each week of the challenge, you can expect to receive several emails per week from us including tips related to our primary areas of focus during the challenge.
Weekly Mini-Challenge Schedule
Week 1: Creating Your Ideal Sleep Environment & Routine
Week 2: Mindfulness & Exercise for Quality Sleep
Week 3: Strategic Consumption of Caffeine & Alcohol
Week 4: Tech-Free Bedtime
To track your personal sleep changes throughout the challenge, you’ll need a notebook in which to track the following information each day:
We encourage you to track this information daily throughout the challenge; however, some changes to your sleep behaviors will take some time to impact your sleep duration and quality, so don’t give up if you don’t experience a change overnight.
While we won’t be focusing as a group on every factor that influences sleep quality, we’ve collected the most current overarching guidelines here for your review before we officially kick off the challenge. So, read on to learn more about the four “big kahunas” in the sleep ecosystem:
Important note before you continue reading: The goal of the Sleep Challenge is to strive for progress, not perfection. As with a workout or diet change, it’s small changes and consistency that make a big difference.
As silly as it may sound, your bedroom should be treated as your sleep sanctuary – a haven of peace and relaxation. Creating the ideal sleep environment involves creating a space for both physical and mental rest.
Keep it cool – The average optimal sleep temperature is a cool 65 degrees, and a range between 60 – 67 degrees works for most. If you regularly wake up sweaty or shivering, try adjusting the temperature in the room, adding or removing blankets, or changing your pajamas. Cotton sheets and pajamas are breathable and can help prevent you from overheating.
Limit lighting – Light and dark have an effect on sleep. Light stimulates alertness, and light exposure affects your body’s sleep rhythms. All artificial light — including light emitted by your digital devices such as your alarm clock, your phone, or other device dials, sensors and displays — can make it hard to fall and stay asleep.
Choose a bed that’s just right – Your mattress should be supportive and comfortable, and your pillow should be as well. Your own body is your best guide to whether a firm or soft mattress and pillow is right for you. Your head, neck and back should feel supported, and your bed should be free of lumps and sags. If you experience acid reflux, elevating your upper body while you sleep may help to reduce symptoms. A wedge inserted under the top portion of your mattress may help, or consider an adjustable bed. If your mattress is more than 10 years old or your pillow is older than 2 years, it may be time for a new one. If a new mattress or pillow is not currently in the budget, that’s okay. Work on adjusting other environmental elements to optimize your sleep.
Reduce noise – Turn off your TV, radio or other streaming device and, for new parents, lower the sound on the baby monitor. While you likely have the ability to control sound within your home, outside noises can be harder to manage. Some find it useful to have white noise machines, fans, or other sources of static background noise to cover up noises like neighbors, dogs barking, and other distractions.
Make your bedroom about sleep – Work and entertainment are important, but ideally, your office, computer, and television all stay out of the bedroom.
Over time, it can be easy to develop a nightly routine that inhibits your natural ability to unwind from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Having a glass of wine just before bed, staying up late watching television, or powering through those last few emails on your phone are just a few of the habits that can severely impede your brain’s ability to slow down and prepare for slumber. Creating a consistent, sleep-promoting evening or bedtime routine is important to helping you achieve better sleep. After all, small children have a very routine bedtime ritual, and they (generally) sleep very well. Why would adults be any different?
First and foremost, going to bed and rising at a consistent time each day helps your body know what to expect, and can help you fall asleep more easily and wake up without aid. You should ideally maintain the same schedule, plus or minus 20 minutes, every day of the week, including weekends.
If your job, school or personal commitments are flexible, you may be able to design a schedule that works seamlessly with your personal sleep rhythms. However, not everyone will be so lucky. Much like children respond well to a consistent bedtime, assigning yourself a specific bedtime hour creates a signal to your body that it’s time to wind down, and ultimately helps you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly. Even if your daytime commitments move you away from your ideal sleep rhythm, it’s possible to create a consistent sleep schedule that will support quality sleep.
If you regularly have trouble sleeping, it is advisable to avoid napping (though some exceptions apply, as in the case of some shift work schedules). As we’ve discussed, each person needs only a certain amount of sleep each day. If you nap during the day but are having trouble sleeping at night, this could be the result of your body having achieved as much sleep as it needs throughout the day. Eliminating naps could help you sleep longer in one stretch.
Shift workers who need to manage between different day and night schedules will have the hardest time identifying and maintaining a sleep-supportive schedule. The UCLA Health article Coping with Shift Work includes detailed guidance for workers following a variety of different shift schedules.
Get yourself in the mood for rest by creating a calming and relaxing pre-bedtime routine. This may include taking a warm bath or shower, sipping a cup of herbal tea (though not too much, or it could cause you to wake to empty your bladder), read a book, listen to a podcast, meditate, or stretch. Adjust your lighting to dim, and set your thermostat to your preferred sleep temperature.
You may have noticed that neither watching TV nor catching up on Facebook are included in this set of recommended pre-sleep activities. That’s purposeful. Avoid TV, tablets and phones before bed to protect yourself from the stimulating blue light they emit. Many advise avoiding screens for at least a full hour before bedtime.
Don’t force it
If you’ve lain in bed for 20 minutes and can’t fall asleep, try getting up and engaging in a restful activity such as reading, listening to music or listening to a podcast. Keep the lighting dim, and return to bed when you feel more drowsy.
You may be familiar with the age-old debate: does a balanced diet allow you to sleep better, or is it sufficient sleep that motivates you to eat a healthy, balanced diet? Ok, so it’s not really an age-old debate, but it should be because the two are very much related and dependent on each other. The answer to both questions above is a resounding “YES!” The fact of the matter is that a reciprocal relationship exists between sleep and diet.
Let us explain:
Sleep is vital for our body–its biological and metabolic processes–as well as our mind to function efficiently and effectively. When we are sleep deprived, we suffer memory problems, immune system issues, and we experience fatigue and inflammation in the body. Furthermore, our levels of the important mood and energy regulating hormones norephinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, which are secreted during sleep, are significantly impacted. In an attempt to compensate for the lack of energy and hormones, our brain triggers cravings for specific foods, and generally, those foods are high in fat and sugar. Additionally, sleep deprivation increases hunger signals to our brain and reduces our ability to feel satiated.
In complementary fashion, what you eat greatly impacts your ability to fall and stay asleep. Our diet provides us with nutrients necessary for the production of sleep-inducing hormones. Melatonin, a powerful hormone that controls our sleep-wake cycles, is a derivative of tryptophan, an amino acid found in eggs, bananas, dairy, nuts, and certain meats. Tryptophan breaks down into serotonin and, eventually, into melatonin.
So the bottom line is this:
By eating a healthy, balanced diet, you’re providing your body with the nutrients it needs to sleep well, and by sleeping well, you avoid the energy crash-and-burn that leads to eating unhealthy foods. There are many diets on the market that can provide you with more detailed guidelines for foods to eat and to avoid and when to eat them, and we encourage you to select and follow one – or meet with a dietician or nutritionist – if you feel you would benefit from more structured and specific nutritional guidance.
All things being equal, if you only make two dietary changes during the 30-Day Sleep Challenge, these two will have the most significant near-term impact on your sleep quality:
1. Avoid alcohol prior to bed
There is a catch-22 relationship between sleep and alcohol. While, on the one hand, it may aid in relaxation and allow you to fall asleep quicker and easier, studies have shown that alcohol causes you to sleep less deeply and wake more frequently. You may also experience night sweats, headaches, or nightmares when consuming alcohol too close to bedtime.
2. Avoid caffeine and nicotine
Both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, which means it is their job to stimulate or inhibit sleep. Consuming either substance too close to bedtime may make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Also, be careful about hidden caffeine sources, such as in chocolate, protein bars, decaf coffee, and even some medications.
Yes, just as exercise can help positively impact your health overall, it can also positively impact your sleep. Adding just one 10-minute walk per day could be enough to improve your sleep. As with diet, there are a myriad of guided exercise programs and sporting opportunities available in most communities to get involved in if you feel it will help you stick to a regular exercise routine. You should select a program that fits your schedule, your ability, your current health level and your age.
With its focus on breath and attention to the body, yoga – particularly restorative yoga poses – can be a good way to prepare for sleep.
While perhaps falling outside of the regular definition of exercise, incorporating relaxation techniques in your routine are recommended to reduce anxiety and stress, two common emotions that can greatly inhibit your ability to fall asleep. The goal of relaxation techniques is to calm the mind and eliminate preoccupations by focusing solely on sensations within your body and your breath. Training your mind through meditation to get rid of noise, literally and figuratively, will have a profound effect on your sleep habits.
Still Experiencing Sleep Issues?
If, after completing the 30-Day Sleep Challenge and following the guidance provided throughout, you’re still unable to achieve quality sleep – or wake feeling lethargic or fatigued – a disorder such as narcolepsy, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome may be to blame. Sleep disorders are surprisingly common, yet often go undiagnosed. Happily, sleep disorders are also treatable, usually through a combination of behavioral changes like those we explore in the sleep challenge, along with medical intervention. A sleep specialist can diagnose sleep disorders utilizing a sleep study, which measures various biological, neurological, and physiological processes that occur during sleep. The study determines if there is an abnormality that could indicate the presence of a sleep disorder. In the case of sleep apnea, for example, the study will measure how many times the patient stops breathing for seconds or longer per hour, which indicates not only the presence of the disorder, but also its severity.
There are two types of sleep studies used to diagnose sleep disorders: polysomnogram (PSG) and home sleep apnea testing (HSAT). Both types of studies are non-invasive and virtually painless. A polysomnogram (PSG) is an in-lab sleep study that requires an overnight stay in a testing facility. PSGs are performed by registered polysomnographic technologists (RPSGT). The technologist utilizes a series of strategically placed monitors and electrodes to track the brain, eyes, heart, breathing patterns, carbon dioxide and oxygen levels, and other biological functions.
Home sleep apnea testing (HSAT) is a portable monitor that allows the patient to test in the comfort of his/her home. The healthcare professional overseeing the patient will give a demonstration on proper usage of the device, then the patient will complete the study at home and send or physically transport the device back to the office for analysis. After your sleep study is completed, the data will be reviewed to identify any prevalent sleep issues that need to be addressed. If a sleep disorder or problem is uncovered, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you.
If you believe you may have a sleep disorder, consult with a sleep specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Sleep is essential for preserving and restoring our mental and physical health. During sleep, our body goes to work repairing the wear and tear we put it through every day. It boosts the immune system, helps muscles recover, and gives our heart and other metabolic systems an opportunity to rest. Sleep also promotes healthy and optimal brain functioning and maximizes productivity. In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need sufficient sleep to allow pathways to be formed and information to be processed.
Quality sleep provides for:
Improved memory, concentration & productivity
Healthy weight maintenance and/or weight loss support
Lower risk of depression, heart disease, stroke & diabetes
Immune function support
In the short term, a lack of sleep increases your risk of getting sick, harms heart health, promotes gain weight, and leads to problems with alertness, memory and motivation. Long-term sleep deprivation carries even more serious risks, including a higher risk for cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes, and elevated blood pressure levels. Furthermore, sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of injury or death as a result of workplace and roadway accidents. According to the National Sleep Foundation, driving while drowsy is equivalent to drunk driving, making sleep deprivation a public health risk.
Join the 30-Day Sleep Challenge
With the support of nationally renowned sleep expert Dr. Kent Smith, you can join a community of others in the Dallas area for the FREE 30-day focus on improving sleep habits. Some of the benefits include: an expert sleep plan, weekly mini-challenges, and personalized support from Dr. Kent Smith. Learn more about the FREE challenge and register here.
Sleep apnea is a condition that afflicts an estimated 22 million Americans and is generally believed to be vastly under-diagnosed in the general population. The difficulty in diagnosis originates in the fact that many of the condition’s symptoms can be attributed to a number of ailments, and the medical community is still working to understand and recognize symptoms as possible indications of sleep apnea.
For women, the situation is compounded by the fact that their symptoms tend to deviate from the “classic” symptoms found in men. Chronic snoring, the most common tell-tale sign of sleep, is frequently replaced by other sleep disruptions in women.
A new study published this month in Menopause showed that hot flashes and night sweats, which are experienced by up to 80 percent of middle-aged women, may indicate an increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea.
The study leveraged self-reported data of 1,691 midlife women who were seen at Mayo Clinic and found that 24.9% were at intermediate to high risk for OSA. The data also showed that those who endure severe hot flashes were at a significantly higher risk for sleep apnea than those who reported experiencing mild to no hot flashes.
And while those results are certainly interesting, what is even more telling is that two years after their clinical consultation, 65 percent of those women determined to be intermediate to high risk remained undiagnosed with the sleep disorder.
It’s important to note that this study wasn’t sufficient to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between hot flashes and sleep apnea, but rather an association. It does, however, further solidify the fact that sleep apnea symptoms experienced by women often differ from those experienced by men. Due to that fact and other factors, sleep apnea in women frequently goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed–at an even greater rate than in men–leaving them at risk for serious health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
A few of the reasons women are often under or misdiagnosed:
Women are less likely to suffer from loud, chronic snoring, which is a tell-tale sign of sleep apnea
Women’s apneic events tend to be fewer and/or shorter than men’s
Women’s sleep disturbances tend to be more subtle and less likely to be noticed by a bed partner
Most sleep apnea symptoms can also be attributed to other ailments, which leads to misdiagnosis
Women often reveal their symptoms to their general practitioners who may attribute the symptoms to another ailment and not be inclined to refer the woman to a sleep specialist who can screen for sleep apnea
In addition to the classic symptoms, these are common symptoms of sleep apnea in women:
Restless leg syndrome
Here are a few of the conditions that, according to the National Sleep Foundation, are often diagnosed in lieu of sleep apnea:
Cardiac or pulmonary illnesses
Fatigue from overwork
As doctors and physicians continue to better understand the signs, associations, and correlations between sleep apnea and other ailments–as well as how those factors vary between genders–sleep apnea diagnosis is sure to rise. Fortunately, effective treatment of the condition significantly reduces the risk of its associated and alleviates many of its debilitating symptoms.
The year is winding down and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. For most of us, that means festive celebrations, grandma’s out-of-this-world pumpkin pie, and embracing the joys (and trials) of family bonding time.
Excitement is sure to build as the menu planning and guest confirmations progress, but there are also the more sinister behind-the-scenes discussions underway. You know, the high-stakes negotiations that’ll determine who gets to sleep in the room next to the uncle Ted, the notorious relative known for making the walls shake while he sleeps. The one who refuses to wear his CPAP because “he doesn’t want to scare the little ones.”
For more mild snorers, there are a couple strategies that’ll help stave off a particularly rowdy bout of snoring. Before the tryptophan takes effect and causes an overwhelming urge to lay down on the couch for a nap, suggest or employ–if you’re the offending party–this simple game plan:
Limit alcohol consumption.
While it’s certainly true that alcohol aids in relaxation–and that very property makes it appealing, particularly when Cousin Brutus appears and insists on giving you your annual noogie just like he has since you were seven years old–alcohol also inhibits one’s ability to slip into and stay in a deep, restorative sleep. Partake wisely in the provided spirits, or better yet, stick with the sparkling cider.
Don’t go from the kitchen table to the couch.
Normally, we’d advise you to be mindful of your food intake–both the type and quantity–and that certainly is a key to getting quality sleep on a consistent basis.
But we’d never deprive you of the opportunity to experience the obligatory Thanksgiving food coma. Go ahead, indulge in the smorgasbord of delicious food your loved ones have so expertly prepared. But once dinner is over, don’t just head to the couch to sleep off your overindulgence.
Take it outside instead–play catch with your nieces and nephews, or catch up with your aunt over a stroll around the neighborhood. A little physical activity will help your body’s digestive processes, which in turn will allow you to sleep more soundly.
With the year-ending holiday season approaching, it’s the perfect time to consider what’s ahead for the new year. If you or a loved one has been struggling with persistent snoring or fatigue, or any of these tell-tale sleep apnea symptoms, having sleep evaluated by a sleep specialist, such as Dr. Kent Smith of Sleep Dallas, will help uncover the underlying cause of the sleep issues and is the first step to finding an effective treatment option.
Sebastien’s story is very similar to many people’s who suffer from undiagnosed sleep apnea. He spent years dealing with persistent fatigue coupled with morning headaches and constant lethargy. His wife endured his nightly loud snoring, though she eventually had to resort to using earplugs to get a good night’s sleep.
Eventually, Sebastien realized that his lack of energy and need to go to bed earlier and earlier was affecting his ability to enjoy time with his wife and kids. Seeking answers and solutions, he finally (after 10 years of suffering!) made a visit to Sleep Dallas where he found just what he was looking for.
It’s estimated that nearly 80 percent of moderate and severe sleep apnea cases in America are undiagnosed. In addition to decreased energy and vitality, untreated sleep apnea has also been shown to increase the risk of developing other serious health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Check out Sebastien’s story below to see how an oral device helped him beat his fatigue and regain the energy he needed to take care of and enjoy his family.
Sebastien: The person that told me that I had a snoring problem was my wife. [It was] to the point where she had to start sleep with earplugs. It’s been about 10 years that I’m always waking up extremely tired with headaches; I’m not sleeping e
ight hours straight. [It’s] almost as if I was finishing a workout, and it just became the norm. You just get used to being tired all the time.
My family was realizing that I was going to be earlier and earlier and earlier, which is less time for them. They were the ones that were suffering the most.
In the past, I never did a sleep study because I was in denial, up until it really became a health problem. Working with Dr. Smith has been phenomenal–he’s very good at explaining, in words that you can understand, exactly what you need to do. [Dr. Smith is] very professional, very knowledgeable and so approachable.
My opinion of the device is that it’s extremely simple, very easy to clean, to assemble. It’s very easy to get used to it.
My wife saw the difference in terms of snoring right away. In terms of sleep, it took about a week or two that I really felt the difference about the level of energy and waking up rested. And the kids, they’re probably too young to really realize it. But the fact that when I go to the playground, I don’t just sit and let them play, that I play with them. I can get involved and have the energy to do things with them.
One thing I can say for sure is that the device, the advice, and the treatment that I got from Sleep Dallas really changed my life. [I have] way more energy to do my day-to-day activity, which is work, working out, and taking care of the family. It really got me to a point where I’m just not tired anymore.
If you, like Sebastien, need help determining a solution to your snoring and persistent fatigue, contact Sleep Dallas in Irving and Frisco to schedule a no-obligation consultation with Dr. Kent Smith.
Meet Ellwyn. He’s one of a number of people who suffered from the effects of sleep apnea for years without discovering a solution. He was always groggy, found it impossible to sleep restfully, and even caught himself falling asleep at the wheel. Ellwyn knew that his condition was negatively impacting his health, but he was frustrated by the ineffective treatments he had tried. Desperate, he came to Sleep Dallas to endeavor, one last time, to find an answer.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which the sufferer stops breathing for short amounts of time, multiple times during the night. The condition originates when the tissue in the back of the throat loosens or collapses as it relaxes during sleep. When this happens, the airway is obstructed, which limits oxygen intake and causes a microarousal from sleep. Constantly being woken up from deep, restorative sleep can cause a host of health concerns: chronic fatigue, depression, and even serious cardiovascular and cognitive impairment.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition, but it can be treated. The most well-known form of treatment is a CPAP machine, but many people with sleep apnea are intolerant to the device: they claim it’s claustrophobic, uncomfortable, and too bulky for practical use. Oral appliance therapy provides another option that has been clinically proven to be effective. They are comfortable, custom-built appliances that fit similar to a retainer or mouth guard. They prop the jaw into a “forward” position that keeps the airways open during sleep. Oral devices are comfortable, easy to transport, quiet, and non-invasive. Many patients experience dramatic improvements in sleep quality with these appliances, and feel a near-immediate positive difference in their energy levels and restfulness.
Check out Ellwyn’s story below to see how oral appliance therapy has restored his energy, fun personality, and quality of life.
Patient Stories - Ellwyn | Sleep Dallas - YouTube
Ellwyn: “Before I found treatment for sleep apnea, I found that I was dragging and fatigued most of the time. Especially when I felt sleepy in the car, I got a little bit alarmed, and I realized it was time to do something about it.”
Dr. Smith: “Ellwyn had tried quite a few different treatments. He had surgery, he had CPAP, and he couldn’t use it, so he was desperate and looking for something that would work. And that’s why he came to see us for an oral device.
Ellwyn: “The moment that I met Dr. Smith, there was no doubt in my mind that he was the right person to help me with my issue. The fact that he was so personable to begin with, so approachable, he made me feel comfortable all the time.”
Dr. Smith: “And after about three years [of successful treatment], he was ready to get another appliance. It’s made a big difference in his life, he’s not as sleepy as he used to be, and, certainly, his wife likes it a lot better.”
Ellwyn: “There’s a certain amount of fear involved because the word ‘apnea’ means cessation of breathing, and it’s scary to think that you’re doing that while you’re sleeping. And [Dr. Smith] has taken that fear out of it, and since I’ve used the device, which has been over three years now, I’m sleeping well and waking up well-rested.”
Dr. Smith: “He has all kinds of energy, he’s vivacious. And so, now, we see Ellwyn as somebody that’s fun, that we enjoy seeing in the office — and we can’t wait for him to come back!”
Have you, like Ellwyn, tried just about everything to get a good night’s sleep? Request a free consultation with Dr. Smith at Sleep Dallas today to start getting the rest you deserve.
If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been known to cause cumulative health risks. Stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s and dementia have been associated with the condition when it’s left alone. A recent study, however, has found that even a few nights without a treatment device increases the metabolic stress that a person with sleep apnea endures.
Put more simply, these studies found increased blood sugar, fat levels, stress hormones, and blood pressure, which correlates with what we know about the comorbidities of sleep apnea. Previously, most studies on sleep apnea were gathered during the day when participants were awake, so only the aftermath of the condition’s effects on the body were obtained.
Researchers drew blood samples every 20 minutes to measure changes in the bodies of the 31 participants, who all had moderate to severe sleep apnea and a history of regular CPAP use. After just a few nights without a device to control sleep apnea, the participants experienced an increase in plasma free fatty acids, glucose, cortisol, and blood pressure.
So, what does an increase in these metabolic functions really mean for sleep apnea sufferers?
High levels of free fatty acids and glucose: Can contribute to diabetes.
High blood pressure: Can contribute to cardiovascular disease, as well as strokes and mild cognitive impairment.
The immediate increase in free fatty acids, glucose, cortisol and blood pressure (all of which worsened based on the severity of the condition) proves the necessity to treat sleep apnea effectively and with special consideration for consistent adherence to the method of treatment. For patients intolerant to CPAP therapy, the condition became even more important to treat with other methods. To learn more about the common symptoms of sleep apnea, check out one of our other blogs.
Oral Appliance Therapy as a CPAP Alternative to Treat Sleep Apnea
Oral appliance therapy is the preferred treatment method for many patients that cannot or will not use a CPAP machine to treat their sleep apnea. In fact, an estimated 20-80 percent of apnea patients fail to adhere to their CPAP treatment over the long-term.
A few benefits of oral appliances include:
Non-electric (does not have to be hooked up to the wall)
Custom-built for each patient
If you’ve looked into the symptoms and think you or a loved one has sleep apnea, the most important thing to do is to visit a sleep physician and get a sleep study. A sleep study is typically performed in a lab or, depending on your situation, may be able to be completed in the comfort of your own home.
Dr. Kent Smith of Sleep Dallas has more than 20 years experience treating patients with sleep apnea, sleep disordered breathing, and persistent snoring. He can help you understand which treatment option will best treat your condition and eliminate or significantly reduce its associated health risks. Schedule a free consultation today.