Posts Tagged ‘sleep disorders


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.

It may not seem this way on the surface, but to a sleep doctor there’s a big difference between someone feeling “tired” and someone feeling “sleepy”.

  • Tired means you lack energy, have trouble focusing, and feel “out of it” all the time.
  • Sleepy means you’re yawing, nodding off, and can’t keep your eyes open.

How you feel during the day is a key piece of information for doctors because different sleep disorders have differet symptoms. Insomnia patients are constantly tired but rarely feel the urge to sleep during the day. Sleep apnea and narcolepsy patients are tired too, but they are constantly fighting off sleep.

The clearer you are in describing your symptoms, the quicker your doctor can get you the help you need. Insomnia isn’t immediately life-threaterning, but sleep apnea, with often goes undiagnosed for years, can raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

The risk of people with sleep apnea falling asleep at the wheel is also very real. People with the disorder are twice as likely to have a car crash, and three to five times as likely to have a serious accident involving personal injury, according to a 2007 study conducted in Vancouver.

 While sleep apnea patients often omit the critical word “sleepy” when describing their daytime symptoms, insomniacs rately make the mistake of including it -probably because they just don’t feel they can sleep. They are well aware, instead of being up half the night and feeling exhausted and unfocused during the day.

 Saying that you are so sleepy that you have to nap in your office during the day hopefully will sound the alarm to your doctor. Just saying that you’re tired or run down might leave you with the wrong diagnosis -or none at all.

*Try to write down all the feelings you have on a day when you feel your symptoms the most. That way it’s in writing, and you can be more specific when you see your doctor.

Some sleep disorders can be diagnosed during a routine exam and a conversation with a sleep specialist. But if you or your doctor suspects you have sleep apnea a further examination may be requested.

It use to be that you had to travel to an actual ‘lab’/hospital. Most of the time they are hours away, booked for months at a time, and a big inconenience. Some people may have a disability, or dependents, or a job that makes a night in a lab too difficult. Now, finally with our latest technology, cases like these have been answered with: The Home Sleep Test (HST).

There are many home test kits available on the market today. But, none of them record all of the full vital signs that a complete in-lab study would, for other sleep disorders -eye and limb movements that might be related with a neurological disorder, for example. The increasing evidence, however, shows they are highly effective in diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. A home sleep test will collect this kind of information though to be symptoms of OSA:

  • Airflow
  • Breathing efforts
  • Blood oxygen
  • Snoring vibrations/density
  • Head and neck movements
  • Calculated cessations/stops in breathing

With the new acceptance of home testing growing in the sleep community: in 2007 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) revised their policy and now endorses the use of portable monitoring for a specific group of people. Now, many insurance plans are starting to cover home tests for eligible patients. Many providers of home sleep testing, have an on-site doctor or therapist who will help you with obtaining a home sleep test, if you have difficulties with your insurance plan (we do 😉 )

So…who’s eligible?

The following points are taken into consideration when determining eligibility:

  • You are between 18 and 65 years of age. Home sleep test haven’t been recommended for children or older adults.
  • You have no other major medical problens; such as pulmonary disease (ALS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease)
  • Patients suspected of having no co-morbid sleep disorder other than OSA.
  • To monitor response to non-CPAP treatments after the dianosis has already been made.

Other medical problems can affect your results, including lung disease, neuromuscular disease, and congestive heart failure, be sure to talk to your doctor to rule out any possible infracions that may effect your testing.

You also maybe eligible for a Home Sleep test if health or safety concerns prevent you from being able to leave home for a night. The Home Sleep test may be used to evaluate your response to some sleep apnea treatments, such a titration pressure, and weather you’re a nasal breather or a mouth breather.

A Home Sleep test can and will make things much more clear if you feel that your just not getting a good nights sleep, or if your partner complains about your snoring and even if you’ve ever nodded off while driving. Give yourself and your loved ones the peace and ease of knowing that you’ll be save and yourself a complete and whole night of sleep, waking feeling refreshed! 🙂

The concept of essential sleep is not new. Simply stated it’s the human body needs to get adequate sleep.
The question you need to ask yourself is: “Am I getting essential sleep?”


To determine this, ask yourself these questions:
· Am I tired when I wake up in the morning?
· Am I tired during the day?
· Am I constantly tired day after day?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should review the information below as you may be a candidate for a sleep study.

 Adults need an average of 6-8 hours of sleep each night to keep their bodies at peak performance. Anything less than that creates sleep debt Although each persons sleep needs differ, studies show that sleeping less than 7 hours a night on a regular basis may lead to serious health risks.
Unlike financial debt, sleep debt is seldom repaid. It is estimated that 70 million Americans have some form of acute or chronic sleep disorder. This is a conservative estimate as most people may not realize they have a sleep issue.
      Quick Facts:
· US population: 298 million people (Census Bureau, 2006)
· Us spends over $100 billion in lost productivity, medical expenses and property damages due to sleep disorders (National Commission in Sleep Disorders Commission, 1992)
· 18 million or more Americans are suspected to suffer from sleep apnea.
· 12 million or more Americans have restless lag syndrome.
· 51% of adults in a recent survey admitted to driving while drowsy at least once in the past year, 17% of which admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel.
   Health Impact
One of the most disturbing correlations made in recent studies is in the area of stroke risk/ Strokes continue to be the number two cause of death in the US. Studies have now proven that subjects with moderate to severe sleep apnea have a 2-3 times higher risk of suffering certain types of stroke if undiagnosed and untreated. Additionally, victims of stroke who did not previously have sleep apnea have a higher incidence of developing it post-stroke, thus increasing risk for subsequent strokes.
Links to heart disease are also quite strong in that 50% of hypertensive patients are suspected to have sleep apnea as well as the same statistic amongst apnea patients suffering from hypertension. Hypertension is a key contributor to heart attack, stroke and cardiac related deaths.
Diabetes and insulin resistance disorders are commonly amongst suffers of sleep apnea. Recent studies linked type 2 diabetes to the lowering of oxygen pressure in the arteries (hypoxemia) found during episodes of sleep apnea related breathing disturbances during sleep.
     Researchers have been proving a correlation between sleep debt and obesity. Studies show a direct impact in subjects who suffer from sleep debt as small as 1 hour less than recommended each night. Sleep is shown to regulate the production of the hormones are not properly balanced; the subject felt hungry more often and had larger appetites than those who obtained adequate sleep. With obesity affecting over 200 million Americans, the impact of sleep on weight control is one that being taken more seriously by the medical world.

snoring.jpgWhere would you feel more comfortable sleeping? Studies show that at home testing is now just as qualifying as going to a sleep lab, although if it is deffinante that you have a form of sleep apnea or sleep disorder,  it will be requested that you spend a few nights at an overnight sleep lab for further documentation to proceed with the proper treatment. A home sleep test involves the use of a portable monitoring system that is small enough for you to use at home. The system consist of a small recording device, senors, belts and related cables and accessories. A typical home sleep test does not detect other sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome. Having anoher sleep disorder or major medical problem also may affect the results of a home sleep test.

   Find out if a sleep study is right for you! Answer these questions below:

  1. Do you think you have a snoring problem?
  2. Has someone told you that you snore almost everynight?
  3. Has someone complained about your loud snoring?
  4. Do you tend to feel tired, even after a full nights sleep?
  5. Do you fight sleepiness durning your normal daytime routine?
  6. Has anyone ever told you that you seem unusually sleepy?
  7. Are you overwieght?
  8. Has anyone ever told you that you stop breathing in you sleep?
  9. Are you free of other sleep disorders?
  10. Are you free of other mdical problems that may affect your sleep?

If your answer to most or all of these questions is “Yes,” then you may be a good candidate for a home sleep test. Answering “NO,” to many of these questions indicated that an overnight sleep study at a sleep lab may be more appropriate for you.

 sleep-study-doc.jpgAn overnight sleep study at a sleep disorders center is useful for detecting many other sleep disorders. It also remains effective even if you have multiple medical problems or sleep disorders. The results of an overnight sleep study give your doctor the most detailed information about your sleep. Doctors call this study a polysomnogram. It charts your brain waves, heartbeat, and breathing as you sleep.  It also records your eye and leg movements as well as muscle tension. Sensors are placed on your head, face, chest and legs. They send tiny electrical signals to a computer. A clip will also be placed on your finger to note changes in the level of oxygen in your blood. The clip monitors the color of your blood.  As blood loses oxygen, it turns from red to blue.

Although a home sleep test can be convenient, it may not be the best option for you. Many sleep centers are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). The AASM sets strict standards for centers to maintain. This is to make sure that patients with sleep disorders get the highest level of care. In these centers, a board-certifired sleep specialist always reviews the results of a sleep study.


Sleep disorders cause more than just sleepiness- a lack of restorative rest can cause accidents on the job, and on the road; affect your relationships, health, and mental prowness; and make you feeling generally “disconnected” to the world around you.

 Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for feeling refreshed and alert during the day. Did you know that the average adult needs eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night in order to maintain optimal mental and physical health? Unfortynately, not everyone is able to get the restorative eight hours they need. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, over 40 million Americans a year will suffer from some sort of sleep disorder – many whom will go undiagnosed, or turn to over-the-counter sleep aids for relief. However, ignoring the underlying causes, or covering the symptoms with drugs usually makes the problem worse. And untreated sleep disorders can even be hazardous to your health – a British study released in September 2007 found that people who do not get enough sleep are twice as likely to die of heart disease. Luckily, through proper testing, diagonsis and care, sleep disorders can be managed and overcome. Particular behaviors durning normal daytime activities are telltale signs of sleep deprivation.

 *Sleep apnea is a common disorder that can be very serious, and even life threatening. In sleep apnea, your breathing stops or gets very shallow while you are sleeping. Each pause in breathing typically lasts 10 to 20 seconds or more. These pauses can occure 20-30 times or more an hour. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. During sleep, enough air cannot flow into your lungs through your mouth and nose, even though you try to breathe. When this happens, the amount of oxygen in your blood may drop.  Normal breaths then start again with a loud snort or choking sound.

 Warning signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Frequent cessation of breathing (apnea) during sleep. Your sleep partner may notice repeated silences from your side of the bed.
  • Choking or gasping durning sleep to get into the lungs.
  • Loud snoring.
  • Sudden awakening to restart breathing.
  • Waking up in a sweat during the night.
  • Feeling un-refreshed in the mornign after a night’s sleep.
  • Headaches, sore throat, or dry mouth in the mornings after waking up.
  • Daytime sleepiness, including falling asleep at inappropriate times, such as during driving or at work.

There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea. It is the obtruction of your tounge as you relax while you sleep, and it presses up against the back of the throat, creating a resistance, where air cannot pass through the nose or mouth.

 apnea-blocked.jpg apnea-open.jpg

  Centeral Sleep Apnea (CSA) is a far more rare type of apnea, which is when the brain signal that instructs the body to breathe is delayed. This centeral nervous system disorder can be caused by injury to the breainstem, disease, or a chronic respiratory disease. People with CSA seldom snore, which makes it even harder to diagnose, as they do not fitthe “normal” profile of a sleep apnea sufferer. The treatments of CSA include specific medications taht stimulate the need to breathe and administration of oxygen.         



     Mixed Sleep Apnea is a combination of the two types of sleep apnea. A person with mixed sleep apnea will often snore, but finds that treatments, which only help obstructions in the airways, do not completely stop apnea episods. treatment usually includes a combination of the treatments for both OSA and CSA.