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Posts Tagged ‘depression

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.

 
manheadacheWhen you’re feeling stressed on the job, it can be hard to leave work at the office. Your job may preoccupy your mind as you drive, as you eat, and as you interact with family or friends. But the battle to control your mind can intensify when you try to go to sleep.

Sleep and stress are competitors. When stress continually activating a part of the brain that is otherwised used for sleep, then stress wins the tug-of-war.

According the AASM, job stress can be a cause of adjustment insomnia. This involves disturbed sleep or sleeplessness that may last for a few days or a few weeks. Other symptoms may include anxiety, worry and tension.

A common feature of adjustment insomnia is “ruminative thoughts.”  This is when you dwell on the same thoughts, chewing them over and over in your mind. You may lie in bed staring at the ceiling, unable to stop thinking about work. Even when you finally fall asleep, your work may invade your dreams. The Staples National Small-Business Survey polled 302 owners and executives of small businesses, and more than half said they dream about work -or “sleepwork.”

Scientific research confirms that job stress can affect your sleep. In 2005 a study in the journal Sleep involved 8,770 Japanese workers. In both men and women, a high level of stress at work was liked to insomnia.

A 2007 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine linked insomnia to these three types of job stressors:

  • High work demand
  • Low influence over decisions
  • High professional compromise

The type of job stress you experience may affect your sleep in different ways. Another study linked work overload to poor sleep quality.  Having role conflicts at work was related to non-restorative sleep and trouble falling asleeo or staying asleep.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, sleep disturbances are one early warning sign of job stress. Others may include:

  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Short temper
  • Upset stomach
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Low morale

Job stress may be unavoidable. But sleep specialists say you can take steps to improve your sleep even when you are stressed.  Establishing a pattern of relaxing behaviors close to bedtime and limiting work to the early evening may help to reduce stress.

Here are jus a few more tips to help you be less restless with work worries:

  • Remain active
    Try to get some exervise every day. Both your mind and body will be more relaxed when its bedtime.
  • Express yourself
    Take some time to slow down before going to bed. Get away from the computer, turn off the TV and the cell phone, and relax quietly for 15 to 30 minutes. Take a warm bath, enjoy a light snack or listen to some soft music.
  • Avoid “bedwork”
    Never bring any work to bed with  you; your bed should be refuge from your job. Also avoid doing other activities in bed such as reading, watching TV or talking on the phone. Only use your bed for sleep.
  • Get out of bed
    If you have trouble falling asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleep agian. Tossing and turning will only increase your frustrations.
  • See a specialist
    Some doctors are specialists in behavioral sleep medicine. They can teach you how to relax at bedtime so you can fall asleep more easily.

The wise words of Wilse Webb, a prominent sleep researcher recently said.

  So, question of pose: How long can humans stay awake?

The experiemental answer to this question is 264 hours (about 11 days).  In 1965, Randy Garder, a 17 year-old high school student, set this apparent world-record for a science fair. Several other normal research subjects have remained awake for eight to 10 days in carefully monitored experiments. None of these individuals experienced serious medical, neurological, physoiological or psychiatric problems.

  On the other hand, all of them showed progressive and significant deficits in concentration, motivation, perception and other higher mental processes as the duration of sleep deprivation increased. Nevertheless, all experimental subjects recovered to relative normality within one or two nights of recovery sleep.  Other anecdotal reports describe soldiers staying awake for four days in battle, or un-medicated patients with mania going without sleep for three to four days.

  The more difficult answer to this question revolves around the definition of “awake.” As mentioned above, prolonged sleep deprivation in normal subjects induces altered stated of consciousness ( often described as “microsleep”), numerous brief episodes of overwhelming sleep, and loss of cognitive and motor functions. We all know the dangerous, drowsy driver, and have heard about drowsy flyers crashing planes because they fell asleep while flying. RandyGardner was “awake” but basically cognitively dysfunctional at the end of his ordeal.

 In certain rare human medical disorders, the question of how long people can remain awake raises other surprising answers, and more questions. Morvan’s fibrillary chorea or Morvan’s Syndrome is characterized by muscle twitchings, pain, excessive sweating, weight loss, periodic hallucinations, and severe loss of sleep ( agrypnia ). Michel Jouvet and his colleagues in Lyon, France, studies a 27 year-old man with this disorder and found he had virtually no sleep over a period of several months. During that time he did not feel sleepy or tried and did not show any disorders of mood, memory, or anxiety. Nevertheless, nearly everynight between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m., he experienced a 20 to 60-minute period of auditory, visual, olfactory and somesthetic (sense of touch ) hallucinations, as well as pain and vasoconstriction in his fingers and toes. In recent investigations, Morvan’s Syndrome has been attributed to serum antibodies directed again by specific potassium (K+) channels in cell and nerve membranes.

  So, to return to the orginal question, “How long can humans stay awake?” the ultimate remains unclear. Despite studies, there are no reports that sleep deprivation per se has killed any humab ( excluding accidents and so forth ). Indeed, the U.S. Departmend of Defense has offered research funding for the goal of sustaining a fully awake, fully functional “24/7” soldier, sailor, or airman. Future warriors will face intese, around the clock fighting for weeks at a time. Will bioengineering eventually produce genetically cloned soldiers and citizens with a variant of Morvan’s Syndrome who need no sleep but remain effective and happy? I hope not. A good nights sleep is one of life’s blessings.

As Coleridge wrote years ago, “Oh sleep! It is a  gentle thing, beloved from pole to pole.”

badhabits

Bad Sleep Habits: it involves the things that you do normally everyday. Although, these habits keep your sleep from being refreshing. They can also keep you from feeling alert during the day. These activities are all the things that you should be able to control. These specific behaviors fall into the follow two general categories:

     1.  Practices that keep you awake.

     2.  Practices that bring disorder to your sleep schedule

Many common factors may keep you awake at night. At first, alcohol may make you sleepy; but it is also more likely to wake you up during the night. Drinking coffee or colas that contain caffeine can make you more alert. The nicotine ina cigarette can have the same effect. People often use these substances to “keep their edge” during the day. This “edge” is not always gone by the time they try to go to sleep.

Other factors that cause you to stay awake when they occure too close to bedtime include the following:

  • Worry
  • Excitement
  • Mental stress
  • Physical exercise

Many other practices can keep you from having a regular pattern of sleeping and waking up. Perhaps you are unable to fall asleep because you spend too much time in bed. Maybe you don’t go to bed and wake up at the same times everyday. Or maybe you nap too often, too long, or too close to your bedtime. These bad habits can confuse your body. This will cause you to stay awake when you should really be asleep.

You can be affected in the followig negative ways:

  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Short attention span
  • Poor concentration
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Frustration with sleeping
  • Caffeine dependence
  • Alcohol abuse or dependence

It may often be obvious to other people around you that the things your are doing are hurting your sleep. You, however, may be completely unaware of it. You may also find that your sleep problems tend to come and go. This is because you are likely to change your sleep habits over time.

  Who gets it?
It is typically not found in younge children. It may develop though, as early as the teen years.

It may also begin at anytime throughout adulthood. The timing of when it begins depends on when the habits that distrurb sleep are developed. The rate at which it affects males and females differently is not known.

  How do I know if I have it?
First, you need to determine if you have insomnia:

  1. Do you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early, or not feeling refreshed after sleeping?
  2. For a child, does the child resist going to sleep or sleeping alone?
  3. Does this problem occur even though you have the opportunity and the time to get a good night’s sleep?
  4. Dout have at least one of the following problems? You have:
  • Low energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Attention, concentration or memory problems
  • Poor performances at school or work
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Trouble making errors at work or while driving
  • Tension, headaches or stomach aches
  • Frustration or worry about your sleep

If your answer to each of these questions is yes, then you might have insomnia. Now continue to see if you might have inadequate sleep hygiene”

  1. Have you had these problems for at least one month?
  2. Do you you have at least one of the following bad habits?
  • You have a bad sleep schedule. You nap a lot, go to bed and wake up at different times everyday, or spend too much time in bed.
  • You often use products with alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine near bedtime
  • You actively do things that excite your mind, body, or emotions near bedtime.
  • You often use the bed to do things other than sleep. This includes paying bills, talking on the phone and eating.
  • You do not keep a comfortable sleeping environment. Research shows that having your bedroom slightly cooler ( via a cieling fan and the slight noise of the fan) are helpful. Low dim lighting such as nightlights are requested, and lavender sented candles can help soothe you into a good sleep regimen.

If you also answered yes to these questions, then you may have inadequate sleep hygiene.

It is also important to know if there is something else that is causing your sleep problems. They may be a result of one of the following:

  • Another sleep disorder
  • A medical condition
  • Medication use
  • A mental health disorder
  • Substance abuse

  Do I need to see a sleep specialist?
Talk with a family doctor about your difficulty sleeping. See if you are able to correct the bad sleep habits that are affecting your sleep. Are you having a hard time improving your habits? Or are you still having a sleep problem even after making these changes? If so, then you made need to see a sleep specialist.

  What will the doctor need to know?
First, the doctor will need to know when your insomnia started. He or she will also want to know what else has been going on in your life. The doctor will need to know about any other medical problems you have today or had in the past. Be sure to tell the doctor if you are taking any medications.

Keep a sleep dieary for two weeks. The sleep diary will help the doctor see your sleeping patterns. The sleep diary information gives the doctor clues about what is causing your problem and how to correct it.

  Will I need to take any test?
Doctors do not need any tests to treat most insomnia patients. A sleep specialists may give you a written test to analyze your mental and emotional well-being. The specialist may need to test your blood in the lab if he or she thinks that you have a related medical problem.

  How is it treated?
Many cases of insomnia will respond to changes that you can make on your own. You can often sleep better by simply following the practices of good sleep hygiene.

Sleep hygiene consists of basic habits and tips that help you develop a pattern of healthy sleep. There are also easy ways to make your bed and bedroom more comfortable.

  You need to seek help from a therapist if stress or depression is the cause of your sleep problems.

When self-treatment does not work, a doctor can provide help. Doctors can teach you different ways to improve your sleep. An example of this is to use relaxation exercises when you go to bed. They can also help you find ways to take your mind off of sleep. Staying out of bed until you are tired is a good way to start off slowly. These methods are a part of what is known as behavioral therapy. With slow changes, you will see the biggest change at the end, feeling refreshed and happy.

Ever wake up and not remember having sex the night before? Yah, me neither but there are some people out there that do (and not with the help of roofies or alcohol). According to a piece in Newsweek, a new sleep disorder has come to the forefront called sexsomnia (not to be mistaken with “sexmania,” which if it isn’t the name of a porn yet it surely should be).

  Add sex to the roster of unlikely sleep behaviors known as parasomnias, which rang from sleep driving to sleep eating. Think of it as a more advanced form of sleepwalking. Publishing of the journal Sleep on what they call “sleepsex” or “sexsomnia,” covers the full gamut of sexual activity, from fondling to intercourse, with one crucial difference, the people apparently have no conscious awareness of what they’re doing and, when wakened, have no recollection of it.

I know this is probably a tragic disorder to have, but the idea of hearing a guy apologize in the middle of the night, “Sorry baby. I didn’t know. I have sexsomnia,” cracks me up! J

So just when you thought that your partner was just being frisky in the night, could seriously have a problem, and mostly likely, should see someone. A survey was conducted gathered data from 219 people, 92% of whom had experienced multiple “sexsomnia” episodes.

People are at-risk for developing sex-related sleep disorders when they also tend to suffer from other sleep disorders-such as sleepwalking or sleep terrors. So, sexsomnia doesn’t come out from nowhere, for whatever reason, sexual behaviors become part of the repertoire.

These disorders were thought to have indicative psychological problems, but it does not necessarily reflect a daytime psychological problem. And “sexsomnia” disorders can easily be treated with medication. The longer you go with this problem without getting it properly treated, the more you can develop a secondary psychological problem such as depression.

With so much being publicized of the existence of sexsomnia, doctors and researchers are hoping it will cause more people to seek help. The condition is highly treatable; seeking help can only work to a sufferer’s advantage. After all, if you’re going to have sex, you might as well enjoy it, right!

heart   Although effective medical treatment for sleep apnea exists, this information has not entered routine medical practice nor does the public recognize the dangers. Unfortunately, even when apnea is suspected, it may be difficult to obtain qualified care. As a result, 95 percent of the millions of people who suffer from sleep apnea have not and may never be diagnosed, let alone properly treated. Nevertheless, the informed person with sleep apnea can take the initiative to get appropriate diagnosis and treatment and take the steps necessary to assure recovery.

  • People with coronary artery disease whose blood oxygen is lowered by sleep-disordered breathing may be at risk of ventricular arrhythmia’s and nocturnal sudden death. CPAP treatment may reduce this risk.
  • Sleep disordered breathing, including apnea, may cause coronary artery disease and hypertension. Additional research is needed to determine if treatment of the sleep-disordered breathing can prevent these impacts.

With the support of the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research, scientist are now examining the relationship between heart disease and sleep apnea. Research data that justifies a major series of studies to determine if apnea is a cause of heart disease including congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and chest pain. Some of the research suggests that apnea may indeed be a cause of the heart disease.

  • Congestive hear failure affects 2.5 million Americans, about 10% of the population.
  • 10 percent of men and 5 percent of women are estimated to have sleep apnea.
  • In obstructive sleep apnea, often marked by snoring, the right side of the heart may suffer damage because it has to pump harder to support the extra effort of the lungs trying to overcome the obstruction of the airway. *When 42 patients with heart failure were tested in a sleep lab, almost half had a severe apnea, which had not been previously diagnosed.
  • Several obese patients with both obstructive sleep apnea and heart failure were treated with CPAP, the usual treatments for OSA. Marked improvement was seen with increased energy and lessened fatigue, lower blood pressure, and a more positive outlook as a result of this treatment.
  • Central apnea may cause high blood pressure, surges of adrenaline, and irregular heartbeats. (Centrally apnea occurs without snoring and is not caused by obstruction; rather it is caused by the failure of the brain to send signals for breathing.)

public-awarness.jpgObstructive sleep apnea is overdue for public attention; it is the second leading cause of daytime fatigue, after insomnia. Poor sleep caused by sleep apnea is a major public health problem. Each night millions of men and women wage a life and death struggle with this little-recognized illness, sleep apnea syndrome. Many deaths among people in their 40’s and older which are attributed to heart disease and transportation accidents may actually be related to an unseen epidemic of sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea syndrome have a higher risk of death than the normal population. The price they pay includes a potentially crippling deterioration in daily functioning, an increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke, depression, and death either in accidents or in their sleep. 

People with sleep apnea syndrome have a higher risk of death than the normal population. The price they pay includes a potentially crippling deterioration in daily functioning, and increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke, depression, and death either in accidents or in their sleep. There are terrible costs for the family of the person with sleep apnea syndrome, who may experience irritability, mood changes, lowered sexual drive and capacity, and a reduction of intellectual ability. In addition there are major business, insurance, health, and social costs including the loss of productivity, the impact of accidents caused by a driver or worker falling asleep, and the wasted health care dollars spent on alleviating symptoms like heart disease without treating their possible underlying cause.


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