Sleep loss and sleep disorders are like snoring and sleep apnea are among the most common and frequently overlooked health problems.
It is estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans chronically suffer from a disorder of sleep and wakefulness, hindering daily functioning and adversely affecting health and longevity (NHLBI, 2003).
There around 90 distinct sleep disorders; most are marked by one of these symptoms: excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, and abnormal events occurring during sleep.
Failure to recognize sleep problems hampers diagnosis and treatment. Physicians seldom ask questions about sleep. (Namen et al., 1999, 2001). For example, about 80-90% of adults with clinically significant sleep-disordered breathing remain undiagnosed. (Young et al., 1997b).
Years ago, when I focused on my goals and purposes, I put on the top of my want list to be able to wake up rested. It just seemed to make sense.
Lately, too many close friends are reporting how little sleep they get and their apparent lack of regard or ability to deal with that.
This is for them...and you.
I have some alarming research and results to share from around the world.
Sleep deprivation has taken epidemic proportions in the country. A National Sleep Foundation survey found that nearly two out of three Americans did not get their recommended eight hours of sleep a night. Thirty percent of those get less than six hours of sleep.
For most, eight hours of sleep is adequate, although some function well on six hours, even four; others need ten. Many have forgotten what a good night’s sleep feels like.
The increase in sleep loss is driven largely by broad societal changes, including greater reliance on longer work hours, shift work, and greater access to television and the Internet.
How Does Sleep Affect Your Body Functions?
1. Sleep Affects Your Brain Functions
Skimping on sleep plays havoc with important hormones, lowers brain oxygen, possibly damaging brain cells, stressing the immune system and inviting the growth of fat instead of muscle.
Cheating on sleep even for a few nights increases brain levels of cortisol, a potentially dangerous stress hormone. While two other hormones – muscle building human growth hormone and prolactin, which oversees the immune system – decrease.
Studies in animals and older people show that long-term exposure to abnormally high levels of cortisol can damage brain cells, causing shrinkage in the hippocampus, a critical region of the brain that regulates learning and memory.
Lack of sleep can dull the brain, sap energy, increase irritability and depression contributes to Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinsons Disease, and makes people more accident-prone.
2. Sleep Loss is Linked to Diabetes
In the Sleep Heart Health Study, adults (middle-aged and older) who reported 5 hours of sleep or less were 2.5 times more likely to have diabetes, compared with those who slept 7 to 8 hours per night (Figure 3-3, [Gottlieb et al., 2005]).
Those reporting 6 hours per night were about 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes. Both groups were also more likely to display impaired glucose tolerance- a precursor to diabetes.
The destruction of the body's natural rhythms – called circadian rhythms-accelerated the growth of cancerous tumors in laboratory animals.
In mice whose body clocks -- also known as circadian rhythms -- were disrupted, "the body's defense system was apparently less able to control tumor growth, and others were following up on recent reports that the disruption of the body clock of those who perform shift work seems to result in a higher propensity for cancer.
In half the mice in the experiment, the researchers destroyed a part of the brain that controls the body's natural rhythms, including sleep-wake cycles as well as body temperature, hormone release patterns, immune response, and metabolism. The remaining "control" mice received mock surgery.
The mice with part of their brains destroyed lost proper functioning of their body's natural rhythms, remaining at a more constant level throughout the day and night.
Researchers then implanted tumors into all of the animals and monitored the animals for tumor growth as well as long-term survival rates.
The investigators found that the tumors grew two to three times faster in the animals whose rhythms had been disrupted. Those animals also experienced a significantly worse survival rate, living only 22 days after the tumor graft, compared with 26 days in the other group.
The study authors speculate that the part of the brain that controls the circadian rhythms may play a role in fighting off disease through its influence of the body's immune responses or hormonal fluctuations.
In addition cancer thrives in a low blood and cellular oxygen environment and poor sleep lowers them.
Common Sleep-Related Symptoms
According to the Institute for Sleep Medicine, there are more than 90 sleep disorders.
The most common are snoring, sleep apnea, excessive daytime sleeplessness, involuntary napping, restless legs during sleep, shift work, jet lag, insomnia and sleepwalking.
Sleep and Breathing
Poor sleep can have a HUGE breathing component. Disordered breathing during sleep causes disruptions in breathing which eventually leads to interrupted sleep.
Snoring is the result of tissues in the throat relaxing enough that they partially block the airway and vibrate, creating a sound. Depending on an individual’s anatomy and other lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption and body weight, the sound of the vibration can be louder or softer.
The noisy sounds of snoring occur when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This area is the collapsible part of the airway where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring occurs when these structures strike each other and vibrate during breathing.
In children, snoring may be a sign of problems with the tonsils and adenoids.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea - Are they Related?
Snoring can confuse the apnea issue. I believe snoring is a precursor to and often accompanies apnea. Snoring may be a sign of a more serious condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
OSA is characterized by multiple episodes of breathing pauses greater than 10 seconds at a time, due to upper airway narrowing or collapse. This results in lower amounts of oxygen in the blood, which causes the heart to work harder. It also causes disruption of the natural sleep cycle, which makes people feel poorly rested despite adequate time in bed.
Apnea patients may experience 30 to 300 such events per night.
The immediate effect of sleep apnea is that the snorer must sleep lightly and keep the throat muscles tense. Because the snorer does not get a good rest, he or she may be sleepy during the day, which impairs job performance and makes him or her a hazardous driver or equipment operator. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of developing heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and many other medical problems caused or worsened by fatigue and lowered oxygen.
People have the false idea that snoring has nothing to do with apnea. I do believe that is DOES have a LOT to do with apnea including sleep disturbance that makes one more susceptible to other oxygen deprivation and sleep loss maladies.
How to Diagnose Sleep Apnea?
Doctors at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany said in a report, published in the February issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, that the only sure way to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea is with an overnight test that monitors a number of things, including airflow through the nose and mouth, snoring, oxygen saturation, certain electrical activity of the brain and body position.
101 patients who complained that they were having snoring problems were examined under one process which included a medical history and a look at anatomy in their nose and throat, and again by overnight sleep tests.
The patients ultimately diagnosed with apnea by the overnight test had readings on the first physical tests that were not significantly different from those did not have apnea, the study found.
"In our opinion, all patients seeking treatment for snoring should be screened overnight using a device measuring at least oxygen saturation and airflow", the report said.
How Can Sleep Apnea Be Treated?
Interventions for the almost all sleep disorders include sleep medicine, neurology (for brain disorders), lung disorders, surgical treatments, mouth breathing aids, mechanical breathing machines (CPAP etc), psychology, psychiatry, dentistry, speech therapy, and pediatrics.
In my opinion, surgical approaches that do not explore breathing development prior to surgery are sheer butchery.
Oxygen supplementation can often help and even may be added to a CPAP machine to enhance its affect.
A harsh way to explain but when you see that uvula or soft palette in most patients is unnecessarily removed and the lower jaw is caused to permanently thrust out, butchery is an appropriate description.
Sleep for Sale - A Big Pharma Blitz
An article first published in Mother Jones and the Utne Reader about the next big pharmaceutical blitz called Sleep for Sale shares that if you believe the drug marketers and their upcoming ads, help is at hand, in the form of new pills that will deliver a refreshing night’s sleep with no morning-after hangovers. Many members of the medical establishment worry that sleep drugs could be the next antidepressants — moderately useful drugs turned into blockbusters by aggressive marketing.
Is CPAP the Best Remedy for Curing Sleep Apnea?
The answer is NO. CPAP or Continuous positive airway pressure therapy is a common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.
In a CPAP machine, a hose and mask or nosepiece to deliver constant and steady air pressure. Common problems with CPAP include disliking air being blown in your nose or mouth while you try to sleep. a leaky mask, trouble falling asleep, stuffy nose and a dry mouth.
The mechanical breathing devices can be a good emergency measure for some. But they do not conform to one's natural/inconsistent breathing patterns and thus actually mechanize/control the breathing beyond what I believe is healthy. But some like them.
Sleep Clinic is a great idea as they provide bio-feedback by studying an individual’s sleep patterns on various parameters. Although they have come as a great respite for some, they have a tendency to set people up for being hooked up to breathing machines. Of course, some may need that to stay alive.
A sleep clinic employee who was also one of my clients reported that the sleep clinic attaches many electrodes to people to help them to sleep and the electrodes often keep the patient awake.
I tried, and I experienced a restriction of my breathing from the rubber band around my chest.
If they keep some awake don’t you suspect they take others out of as deep as they might be otherwise capable of?
But still, for lack of other clinical aids to treat sleep disorders, I would include biofeedback as a possible adjunctive approach towards getting detailed analysis on individuals to sleep disorders. For many, a program that trains people to breathe better in conjunction with these mechanical breathing devices could be a better solution. Combined with The Optimal Breathing Program, it is sure to yield a high degree of success related to sleeping and/or snoring.
Stress Level Elimination Exercise Plan (Sleep)TM
I believe this is critical to not being forced to be dependent on mechanical devices for the rest of one's life. We have developed this program to integrate our breathing development techniques with sleep labs.
My best suggestion for apnea or snoring is to develop the breath during waking hours. Then it works better while sleeping.
Apnea is difficult.
That is why when you see any sign of it you had better get working on it right away. I believe it requires a coach and significant time spent retraining the breathing.
Many clients of mine have had success with special breathing redevelopment techniques.
Tibetan Caffeine - A Revolutionary and Life-Saving Program
My audio program Better Breathing Exercise #2 also called the Tibetan Caffeine, will energize and focus while facilitating a potential life saving increased mental clarity and second wind. It is not recommended that you use it and drive a vehicle but I have done so with great success.
Thyme - A Super-Power Herb to Reduce Snoring!
Commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine, thyme is one of the oldest known substance in medical records. The Egyptians used thyme for embalming.
Listed in Dioscorides' De Materia Medica (A.D. 78), Europe's first authoritative guide to medicines, that became the standard reference work for herbal treatments for over 1,700 years.
Thyme was listed in Hildegard's Medicine, a compilation of early German medicines by highly-regarded Benedictine herbalist Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179).
It has tons of therapeutic properties: Anti-aging, Highly antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic. Thyme contains large amounts of Thymol which is one of the strongest antioxidants known.
USES Infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, hepatitis, snoring, etc.
In any event, if you snore I suggest you get our sleep program plus you had better have a medical doctor check you out for sleep apnea. If you DO their testing have it make sure you develop your breathing so that you reduce the chances for needing surgery and or will not have to use or stay on a mechanical breathing device the rest of your life.
- Blunden, S., et.al, 2000. Journal of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology, Vol 22(5) 554-568.
- Wolfson, A. 1998. Child Development, Vol 69(4) 875-887.
- Models of intermittent hypoxia and obstructive sleep apnea: molecular pathways and their contribution to cancer