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Posts Tagged ‘sleep apnea

brain-damage

Studies show that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects much more than just your sleep. It can even damage your brain.

A recent brain imaging study from France involved 16 adults. Each of them had just been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

In numerous brain regions the study found a loss of “gray matter.” This is brain tissue that contains fibers and nerve cell  bodies. There also was a decrease in brain metabolism.

The authors suggest that these changes may explain some of the impairments that often occur in people with sleep apnea. Examples include attention lapses and memory loss. The study was published in March 2009 issue of the Journal of Sleep Research.

The results are similar to those found by a research team from UCLA. Their study was published in Neuroscience Letters in June 2008. They reported that people with sleep apnea have tissue loss in the “mammillary bodies.” These are brain regions that help store memory.

In July 2008 the UCLA team published another brain imaging study in the journal Sleep.It involved 41 people with moderate to severe sleep apnea. It also included 69 control subjects matched by age.

Results show that people with sleep apnea have extensive alterations in “white matter.” This is nerve tissue in the brain. It contains fibers that are insulated with myelin -a white, fatty sheath. The structural changes appear in brain regions that help control mood and memory. These regions also play a role in adjusting your blood pressure. Damage also was found in fiber pathways that connect these brain regions.

What causes the brain damage? The authors suggest that oxygen, blood flow and blood pressure may be involved. Sleep apnea involves breathing pauses that can occur hundreds of times a night of sleep. These pauses can produce drastic changes in oxygen levels.

These breathing pauses also reduce blood flow in the brain. People with sleep apnea also are at risk for high blood pressure. Both of these conditions create a potential for brain tissue damage.

Dr. Ronald Harper of UCLA said that the studies show how important it is for sleep apnea to be treated. CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. The findings make it all the more imperative that OSA be treated as soon as possible to prevent further injury. The long-term effects of OSA are terribly damaging to memory and thinking processes.

Can treatment reverse the brain damage caused by sleep apnea? The authors are uncertain if the changes are permanent.

But studies show that CPAP does help your heart, it may even save your life.

mind-racing

Insomnia can make you feel like your mind is racing out of control. A revealing new study explains why your brain may be unable to put the brakes on your thoughts. It links the problem to low levels of a brain chemical.

A new study shows that GABA levels are reduced by 30 percent in adults with chronic primary insomnia. The study was published in the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

GABA is reduced in the brain of individuals with insomnia, suggesting over activity is present. It was explained that low GABA levels create an imbalance of brain activity. This may lead to an inability to shut down waking signals in the brain.

If your GABA levels are low, then your mind can’t slow down. It may race forward at full speed even when it is time to sleep. An over active mind is a key feature of psychophsicological insomnia. At bedtime you are unable to stop thinking and worrying. Your body may be ready for sleep, but your mind remains alert. This state of “hyperarousal” can make it hard for you to fall asleep.

Most with insomnia have “secondary” insomnia. It occurs along with another medical problem, mental illness or sleep disorder. It also may result from the use of a medication or substance. In contrast primary insomnia is unrelated to another health problem. Estimates that about 25 percent of people with insomnia have primary insomnia. The study only links low GABA levels to long lasting, primary insomnia.

All participants in the study had been suffering from primary insomnia for mor than six months. The average duration of their symptoms was about 10 years. The GABA connection affirms that primary insomnia is a legitimate disorder.

Recognition that insomnia has manifestations in the brain may increase the legitimacy of those who have insomnia and report substantial daytime  consequences. It was also explained that insomnia can affect your energy, concentration and mood. It also increases your risk of depression.

One solution for the problem of primary insomnia is the use of hypnotic medication. The short-term use of a sleeping pill can help break the cycle of sleepless nights. The study notes that many of the most effective sleeping pills increase activity at the GABA neurons.

Another treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT helps you learn how to correct attitudes and habits that hinder your sleep. Many of these bad habits develop as people try to cope with chronic insomnia.

  On the heels of a report criticizing the federal governments efforts to ensure that truck drivers are medically qualified, the House transportation committee’s chair man blasted the top   truck safety agency for not living up to tis mission and for dragging its feet on the health issue.

Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, laid into the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin. for not moving fast enough to implement congressional mandates or recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board.

“It shouldn’t take you eight years. It shouldn’t take you five years. Or three years,” Oberstar said during a July 24 hearing by the committee. “People’s lives are at stake, and they are depending on you and your colleagues. We’ve given you a half-billion dollar [annual] budget, practically, to do this. There is no excuse for foot-dragging.”

Oberstar’s comments were in response to a Government Accountability Office report that said hundreds of thousands of drivers have potentially serious medical conditions, some significant enough to prevent them from driving a truck.

During the hearing, Rose McMurray, FMCSA’s chief safety officer, defended the agency’s work on driver health issues, telling the committee the agency was committed to completing rules later this year that would address most of NTSB’s recommendations.

“Four of the NTSB’s eight most-wanted recommendations will addressed by the medical certification and national registry rules,” she said, adding that the remaining recommendations would be addressed by the agency’s medical review board.

The top Republican on the committee’s panel on highways, Rep. John Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) also questioned the GAO (Government Accountability Office) conclusions.

“I am concerned this report will be seen by some to imply a broader problem in the CDL population,” he said. “In fact, the report makes it clear that these 15 cases are not representative of the commercial driver population.”

Oberstar was unconvinced and pointed to a report by the transportation committee’s staff that also noted issues with the medical certification program.

“Staff got 600 medical card from drivers at truck weigh stations, and thy tried to verify them with the medical examiners who issued the card, or allegedly issued the card,” he said. “The report documents 30 cases -5%- where the medical examiner didn’t exist, or the medical examiner indicated that the signature of that person had been forged or changed.”

Oberstar, as well as, Rep Peter DeFazio, the chairman of the highways sub-committee, pressed McMurrayto explain why the agency has taken so long with its medical rules, which she said have been “difficult to develop.”

DeFazio asked McMurray if the agency had the resources to complete the rules, but she answered that it wasn’t a “matter of resources, as much as it is a problem of expertise.”

McMurray also said that “other rule-makings” have taken priority over the medical rules, but without specifying which ones.

The rules are also complicated by cost issues, she said, telling Oberstar they are “a significant burden on states.”

That burden, McMurray said, comes in costs to upgrade information technology to handle new databases, and new training requirements for enforcement officers and medical examiners.

“The sheer size of the driver population will require thousands of certified medical examiners to evaluate drivers,” McMurray also added.

Oberstar, however, said the agency lacked “a safety mindset,” and, if it had one, “you would have done this in the last eight years.”

“What we need is will -and willpower- at the highest levels, he said. “And it is apparent there isn’t that will at the level of the secretary of Transportation and permeates all the way down through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.”

 

 

1. The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon.  The record  holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.

2. Anything less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means you’re sleep deprived. The ideal is between 10 and 15 minutes, meaning you’re still tired enough to sleep deeply, but no so exhausted you feel sleepy by day.

3. It’s impossible to tell if someone is really awake without close medical supervison. People can take cat naps with their eyes open without even being aware of it, microsleep.

4. A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year.

5. One of the best predicors of insomnia later in life is the development of bad habits from having been sleep deprived by young children.

6. The continuous brain recordings that led to the discovery of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep were not done until 1953, partly because the scientists involved were concerned about wasting paper.

7. REM sleep occurs in bursts totaling about 2 hours a night, usually beginning about 90 minutes after falling asleep.

8. Dreams, once thought to occure only during REM sleep, also occure (but to a lesser extent) in non-REM sleep phases. It’s possible there may not be a single moment of our sleep when we are actually dreamless.

9. REM dreams are characterized by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetirive and thought-like, with little imagery obesessively returning to a suspicion that you left your mobile phone somewhere, for example.

10. Certain types of eye movements during REM sleep correspond to specific movements in dreams, suggesting at least part of the dreaming process is analogous to watching a film.

11. No-one knows for sure if other species dream, but some do have similar sleep cycles to humans.

12. Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lie down for REM sleep.

13. Some scientists believe we dream to fix experiences in long-term memory, that is, we dream about things worth remembering. Others reckon we dream about things worth forgetting to eliminate overlapping memories that would otherwise clog up our brains.

14. Dreams may not serve any purpose at all but be merely a meaningless byproduct of two evolutionary adaptations: sleep and consciousness.

15. REM sleep may help developing brains mature. Premature babies have 75 percent REM sleep, 20 percent more than full-term babies. Similerly, a newborn kitten, puppy, rat or hamster experiences only REM sleep, while a  newborn guinea pig (which is much more developed at birth) has almost no REM sleep at all.

16. Scientists have not been able to explain a 1998 study showing a bright light shone on the backs of human knees can reset the brain’s sleep-wake clock.

17. British Ministy of Defense researchers has been able to reset soldiers’ body clocks so they can go without sleep for up to 36 hours. Tiny optical fibers embedded in special spectacles project a ring of bright white light ( with a spectrum identical to a sunrise) around the edge of soldiers’ retinas, fooling them into thinking they have just woken up. The system was first used on US pilots during the bombing in Kosovo.

18. Seventeen hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%.

19. The 1989 Exxon Valdex oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which sleep-deprivation played a role.

20. The NRMA insurance estimated fatigue is involved in one in 6 fatal road accidents.

21. Exposure to noise at night can suppress immune function even if the sleeper doesn’t wake. Unfamiliar noise, and noise during the first and last two hours of sleep, has the greatest disruptive effect on the sleep cycle.

22. The “natural alarm clock” which enables some people to wake up more or less when they want to is caused by a burst of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. Researchers say this reflects an unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking up.

23. Some sleeping tablets, such as barbiturates supress REM sleep, which can be harmful over a long period.

24. In insomnia following bereavement, sleeping pills can disrupt grieving.

25. Tiny luminous rays froma digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt the sleep cycle even if you are not fully awake. The light turns off a “neutral switch” in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.

26. To doze off, we must cool off; body temperature and the brain’s sleep-wake cycle are closely linked. That’s why hot summer nights can cause a restless sleep. The blood flow mechanism that transfer core body heat to the skin works best between 18-30 degress. But later in life, the comfort zone shrinks to between 23-25 degress, one reason why older people have more sleep disorders.

27. A night on the grog (alochol) will help you get to sleep but it will be a light slumber and you won’t dream much.

28. After five nights of partial sleep deprivation, three drinks will have the same effect on your body as six would when you’ve slept enough.

29. Humans sleep on average around three hours less than other primates like chimps, rhesus monkeys, squirrel monkeys and baboons, all of whome sleep for 10 hours.

30. Dolphins at risk of attack by predators are able to balance the need for sleep and survival, keeping one half of the brain awake while the other slips into sleep mode.

31. Ten percent of snorers have sleep apnea, a disorder which causes sufferers to stop breathing up to 300 times a night and significantly increases the risk of sufferig a heart attack or stroke.

32. Snoring occurs only in noo-REM sleep.

33. Teenagers need as much sleep as small children ( about 10 hrs.) while those over 65 need the least of all ( about six hours). For the average adult aged 25-55, eight hours is considered optimal.

34. Some studies suggest women need up to an hour’s extra sleep a night compared to men, and not getting it may be one reason women are much more susceptible to depression than men.

35. Feeling tired can feel normal after a short time. Those deliberately deprived of sleep for research initially noticed greatly the effects on their alterness, mood and physical performance, but the awareness dropped off after the first few days.

36. Diaries from the pre-electric-light-globe Victorian era show adults slept nine to ten hours a night with periods of rest changing with the seasons in line with sunrise and sunsets.

37. Most of what we know about sleep we’ve learned in the past 25 years.

38. As a group, 18-24 year-olds deprived of sleep suffer more from impaired performance than older adults.

39. Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-hour accessibility of the internet.

40. The extra-hour of sleep received when clock are put back at the start of daylight savings has been found to coincide with a fall in the number of road accidents.

Tired foreign truck drivers have been pleading with UK police to arrest them so they can get some food and sleep, says a senior officer. Chief superintendent Ceraint Anwyl, chairman of the National Roads Policing, says drivers have been phoning forces across Britain to ask to spend the night in jail so they can take a break from driving, despite the fact it also means paying a fine. The drivers give details of their registration and where they are.

They are often discovered to have been driving unsafe vehicles for 30 hours without a break, and are arrested and charged with failing to keep a proper driving record or ignoring tachograph readings. Anwyl says: “They say I am tired. I have been driving for so many hours; please stop me because I’m dangerous on the road. If you do, I promise I’ll never work for this company again.”

It has come to the point where truckers have to turn themselves in because they are so tired, that’s just so sad to hear. There are so many dangers with someone aiding a large vehicle and not being completely coherent, and drowsy. Hopefully things will look up when D.O.T makes some changes to help these drivers. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have the many things it take to supply a home, a business, and our economy.

 

 If losing weight were simple, Spandx would be just another screen name in a S&M chat room. But dieting is complicated: There are even ways to screw it up without even realizing it. For instance, who would ever think that working out in the a.m. or cranking the AC might be the reason you’re not slimming down?  Luckily, once you’ve ID’d these flubs, fixing them is nowhere near as hard as pulling on a pair of control-top hose.

Roadblock No. 1:   You work out at 6 a.m.

And what’s wrong with that? Morning workouts are great- if you go to bed at 10 p.m.  In a recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who slept seven or more hours a night were less likely to put on weight then women who didn’t. Those who slept only six hours a night were 12 percent more likely to gain substantial weight -33 pounds on average over the course of 16 years! (Women who slept a measly 5 hours had a 32 percent chance of gaining 30 or more pounds). Other studies have linked lack of sleep to a higher BMI and have found that it negatively affects levels of the appetite-regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin.

Detour:  Don’t sacrifice your snooze time- not even for an extra long run. And quality matters more than quantity, so taking a siesta later won’t help. In a 20-minute power nap you don’t get the deep-sleep stages. You need to go throught the cycles of sleep over a few hours to get the restorative rest that allows your body to work properly. Bottom line: You’re better off sleeping through your workout every other day than stumbling to a sunrise Pilates class on too few Z’s.

  An independent link between sleep apnea and mortality was discovered by a group of Australian researchers, suggesting the prevention and treatment of this condition should be a higher priority for government bodies working to improve community health.

The study conducted by the Woolocock institute of Medical Research in Sydney found moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was associated with 33% mortality over 14 years in people with no sleep apnea.

This is the first report to demonstrate an independent association between all-cause mortality and obstructive sleep apnea in a population-based cohort. The community based sample of 380 people comprised men and women from Western Australia who underwent investigation with a home sleep apnea monitoring device in 1990.

The study results confirm the pattern seen in clinic or hospital-based studies where people more severely afflicted by the disease may have potentially biased results.

Findings of the study have important implications for the direction of health policy in Australia.

Because sleep apnea is strongly associated with obesity, and its related diseases, it has been difficult in the past to produce clear evidence that increased mortality is a result of OSA and not because of other established causes.

The evidence is now available and shows the moderate to severe sleep apnea is associated with about five times the risk of dying after you control for the other factors that are already know to cause premature death.

The study results highlighted a need to increase research funding to investigate whether treatment of sleep apnea can decrease heart attacks, strokes and premature deaths.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a deadly disease and it is now time for public health and medical practitioners as well as the general public to take it seriously.


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