Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain Connection

21 04 2014

 

Seek adventures in life.  This will motivate you to stay active.

Seek adventures in life. This will motivate you to stay active.

How many of you have a tendency to stay up late and then eat too much before bed time?  Or do you lack a good night’s sleep because of daily stress, anxiety or snoring while you sleep?  Do you wake up with little energy and then eat too much throughout the day?  Believe it or not there is a connection between these causes of your sleepless nights and weight gain.

Most are unaware when we lack a good night’s sleep we are then sleep deprived and our body is chemically stimulated internally and then activated to gain weight.  Much of this cause and effect has to do with one or more behavioral habits, environmental stressors and/or medical disorder that cause us to lose sleep.  And when we lose sleep our internal body’s hormonal and metabolic conditions shift to crave more food.

Let’s first address staying up late at night and eating too much before bed.  At night when you don’t sleep “for whatever reason” your body continues to burn energy and you feel hungry.  Instead of sleeping, you’re prone to eat more.  And this is the worse time to eat when the body’s metabolism is at its lowest metabolic burn rate.  Staying up late and watching Television and eating fattening food snacks are behavioral habits that don’t help in maintaining healthy body weight.

However, if the reason you do this is because of a bad habit of watching late night TV, the good news is this habit can be changed.  The not so good news is… if this habit is caused from chronic stress, anxiety and/or depression; behavioral therapy and/or medical treatment may be needed to address a primary medical condition prior to changing a secondary bad food habit used as a comfort crutch.

When you stay up late or don’t get enough sleep and if this trend continues, you’re going to feel low motivation to work, exercise, or even work on relationships, etc.  But a worse effect often results from sleep deprivation, i.e., food cravings that cause us to eat more than we would otherwise.  This is likely the result of hormonal and metabolic imbalances caused from sleep deprivation that attempt to resolve the body of feeling bad, or experiencing low energy levels.  And this feeling is typically coupled to a varying degree; a depressed mind-body [known as psychosomatic relationship].  Sleep deprived individuals are often unaware of these internal mechanisms and how they internally activate to provide the body a feeling of normalcy.

“The lack of sleep also changes the balance of hormones in your body, especially ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin spurs you to eat, and leptin tells you when to stop. When you are sleep-deprived, your body creates more ghrelin and less leptin; this leads to more eating, additional calories, and extra weight gain (Brooks 2014).”  “In fact, have you ever experienced a sleepless night followed by a day when no matter what you ate you never felt full or satisfied?  If so, then you have experienced the workings of leptin and ghrelin (Bouchez 2014).”

Also when tired you’re more prone to feel stressors and anxiety associated with the daily grind.  Why?  Because you lack the energy to mentally and physically shield yourself of their effects within your internal environment.  And when the body feels overwhelmed and depressed, then the mind and spirit is also less able to cope these stressors.

Sleeping disorders and behavioral habits can cause acute and chronic depression.  “People with insomnia often wake repeatedly during the night and don’t feel rested in the morning.  Insomnia can cause or worsen fatigue, already a symptom of depression.  ‘Sleep is clearly linked with mental health and insomnia is considered a hallmark of depression (Tracey 2014).”

Your weight gain nemesis may be directly related to any number of internal or external environmental conditions, or stressors that prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.  Then you may feel depressed and eat for comfort; or your body tells you it’s time to eat even when not hungry. Or by simply not getting enough sleep the fat cell is unable to release its stored energy.

    “For years researchers have known that adults who sleep less than five or six hours a night are at higher risk of being overweight. Among children, sleeping less than 10 hours a night is associated with weight gain.  ‘Now a fascinating new study suggests that the link may be even more insidious than previously thought.  Losing just a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row can lead to almost immediate weight gain (Parker-Pope 2013).” 

    “Perhaps the largest study to track the effects of sleep habits on weight gain over a period of time was presented by the American Thoracic Society International Conference in 2006. The study that included nearly 70,000 middle aged women specifically pointed out those women who sleep 5 hours or less per night generally weigh more than women who sleep 7 hours per night (Menopot 2014).”

It’s interesting to note within the fat cell itself, there is a physiological responses to metabolic hormonal imbalances caused by a poor night’s sleep.  In other words studies show us the longer one goes without sleep causes fat cells to malfunction by preventing its release of stored energy.  And for those that experience too many sleepless nights the risk of diabetes, circulatory and cardio health risk increases with weight gain.

“To investigate, Matthew Brady at the University of Chicago and his colleagues tested fat cells taken from the bellies of seven adults after four nights of sleeping up to 8 and a half hours, and then again after four nights on a measly 4 and a half hours.  The team found that after sleep deprivation fat cells from the same person were on average 30 per cent less responsive to insulin – a hormone that makes muscle, liver and fat cells take up glucose after a meal.”

“High blood glucose levels are linked to diabetes. Fat cells also normally release the appetite-regulating hormone leptin [tells you when to stop eating]. Brady suggests that if sleep-deprived cells are generally malfunctioning, this mechanism may also be disrupted, affecting weight gain (Hamzelou 2012).”

There are many reasons one may not get a good night’s sleep.  We’ve briefly touched on insomnia, behavioral habits and suggested environment stressors that keep us from getting a good night’s sleep.  But there are also medical conditions like sleep apnea, chronic depression and other medical disorders patients need help with in order to get a good night’s sleep, maintain healthy body weight and overall good health.

“It appears individuals can learn to change habits and behaviors through a natural process of removing an identified anxiety-stress stimulus.  Once the anxiety or stress trigger mechanism has been removed; anxiety and depression symptoms may be alleviated for many and go away never to return (Woodard 2010).”

Outside of environmental stressors and bad habits, there is a serious medical condition known as sleep apnea that causes many to lose sleep because of excessive snoring.  But it must be pointed out those who snore don’t necessarily have sleep apnea.  Which will become apparent after review of the summarized sleep study below.

Sleep apnea occurs during sleep and when muscle tissue is relaxed at the back of the throat in a way that partially occludes a clear airway.  In some cases, as more weighted tissue is involved around the throat area the structural airway integrity buckles and partially blocks it of free air passage.  This buckling can be thought of as a breach of the airway and in a way that causes excessive snoring.

There is also a neurological condition that is not a mechanical breach or related to an overweight condition.  Instead sleep apnea can occur due to the CNS (Central Nervous System) signaling the brain to stop breathing intermittently during sleep.  This type of breathing interruption is less understood but can be treated in the same way as a mechanical blockage using CPAP (Positive Airway Pressure) or dental device that keeps airway open.  Also both medical conditions of sleep apnea “mechanical and neurological” can also occur simultaneously.  In any event, dependent on medical diagnosis can be medically treated and/or surgically corrected to varying degrees of a successful outcome.

Those with sleep apnea repeatedly wake up because of snoring and occluded airway and May, or may not be consciously aware of doing so. But in almost all cases, those with untreated sleep apnea rarely feel they’ve had a good night’s sleep, feel unrested when they awake and are typically tired throughout the day.

Sleep apnea is serious business because respiratory failure and other health risk have led to death.  If you or spouse have a serious snoring problem, or stop breathing intermittently during sleep, or can’t sleep for whatever reason… see your physician and request a sleep study test.

Sleep Study Tests Show the Following Results:  While asleep, those with sleep apnea unknowingly experience episodes where they stop breathing.  This can occur 5-50 times per hour and up to 300 times during regular sleep.  But if the “non-breathing” episodes only last seconds or less, this does not appear to have a significant health risk to the body.  But if one is sleeping and averages 30 “non-breathing” episodes per hourly average where breathing stops up to 10 second intervals minimum between breaths, this is where serious health risk increases and incremental/accumulative damage to the heart occurs.  While loved one(s) and friends assume you simply have a bad, loud obnoxious snore, this could in fact be an indicator of something far worse than irritating those around you.  And also be aware, just because you snore does not mean you have sleep apnea.  Only a sleep study test can prove this for sure (Woodard 2010).

When we snore and wake up repeatedly, or get little sleep for whatever reason we lack in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.  While under REM our skeletal muscles are deeply relaxed and we dream and our food intake throughout the day is better regulated because our hormones and metabolism is refreshed, energized and balanced optimally.

It is especially important if you suffer from stress, anxiety, obesity, respiratory, or other disorder that causes you to lose sleep, seek medical treatment.  Treatment may include anti-anxiety, depression and/or behavioral therapy with, or without hormonal or prescription drug treatment.  If overweight you may also be tested for diabetes, heart and circulatory health, etc. Tests and treatment recommendations may also include sleep study test, CPAP (Positive Airway Pressure) or other device treatment, surgery to alleviate sleep disorder condition, etc.

Regardless of what prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep it is possible to target the problem of your sleep deprivation for sake of your health and overall wellbeing.

Developing or resolving good sleep habits and patterns will support healthy body weight, reduce daily stress and anxiety levels; and will provide the feel good energy to live the lifestyle you need, want and deserve.

Works Cited and Article Resources,

Bouchez, Colette. “The Dream Diet: Losing Weight While You Sleep.” Review. Web log post. WebMD. WebMD, LLC., 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Brooks, Dominique W., MD, MBA. “Sleep Deprivation and Weight Gain.” LoveToKnow. LoveToKnow Corp., 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Hamzelou, Jessica. “‘Tired’ Fat Cells Might Trigger Obesity.” NewScientist. Reed Business Information Ltd., 15 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.

Menopot. “Insomnia and Weight Gain.” Insomnia and Weight Gain. Menopot, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Parker-Pope, Tara. “Lost Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Tracy, Natasha. “Depression and Sleep Disorders.” HealthyPlace. HealthyPlace, 8 Sept. 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Woodard, Marc T. “Defeat Anxiety and Panic Attacks.” Web log post. MirrorAthlete Fitness Secrets. MirrorAthlete Inc., 24 Nov. 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Woodard, Marc T. “Sleep Apnea an Insidious Angel of Death.” Web log post. MirrorAthlete Fitness Secrets. MirrorAthlete Inc., 23 July 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, MSC Officer, ANG Ret. 2014 Copyright.  All rights reserved, MirrorAthlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your free eNewsletter.





Oxygen Uptake Breathing for Ill-Health Prevention

17 04 2011
Get Out and Breathe Nature’s Air

    Science shows us that those that don’t breathe correctly experience mood swings, depression, anxiety and other stress-related illnesses.  And the primary reason these disorders occur is because many of us live inactive lifestyles that promote shallow breathing.  What do I mean by this?  Think about it.  As you sit there and read this article, you’ll note that your intake of air expands your diaphragm one quarter to half a chest expansion.  Now that you’re thinking about it, take a deep breath in and exhale.  You see, you weren’t breathing fully.  Why do I bring you this example?

     If you understand what shallow breathing is than you can understand that half of your lung capacity is not being exercised, nor is your cardiopulmonary system.  What does this mean?  It means that a portion of your lungs are constantly living in a carbon dioxide environment, partially void of oxygen.  And why is this bad for prolonged periods of time?  The most obvious symptoms you should be aware are fatigue, lack of mental focus-energy and decreased metabolic function, which for many equates to weight gain.

     Through time and without adequate activity shallow breathing promotes decreases in the lungs capacity to expand maximally and eventually lack of oxygen delivery to tissues creates other ill-health conditions. 

    How does shallow breathing impact blood pressure?  Since the hearts action is involuntary it can only respond to demand on the heart.  If the heart senses a drop in oxygen to the body, it will pump more blood, even during sedentary activity.  Also, these increases in blood pressure and heart rate occur during exercise activity.  However, active exercise that is a cause and effect on increased blood pressure and heart rate has a relaxing and healthy effect on the mind and body after the task.  Whereas, and throughout time, shallow breathing, lacking activity has a detriment on the body and mind by decreasing lung capacity, blood pressure and carbon dioxide exchange within all cellular structure. 

    It is also true that the body requires an oxygenated environment to burn fat more effectively which occurs during aerobic activity.  Walking and jogging are the best forms of aerobic activity.  Deep breathing exercises practiced through yoga classes for example, or at home frequently will increase the fat burning metabolism process.

     When exercising the lungs adequately, the body is more oxygenated and metabolizes fat as a fuel source preference instead of breaking down mostly glycogen during anerobic activity (without oxygen).  Simply by learning to breathe correctly, you can burn more fat and better remove toxins from your body.  If you are limited to breathing exercises, you will benefit your body’s metabolism, lymph node, cardiopulmonary systems to include expedite the healing process.

     Many of you also understand during exercise we experience aerobic vs. anaerobic metabolic and muscular benefits.  And through exercise, for example, like walking, our bodies burn more body fat because our task has shifted to an aerobic metabolism.  But if we go from a walk to a sprint, our body cannot get enough oxygen for long periods of time at this intensity and lactic acid buildup limits us in our exercise activity.  Anaerobic activity is good for those that need to push the body to build short burst and power/strength capacity.  Whereas aerobic activity is necessary to build upon muscular endurance, fat burning and body toning goals.

     Below I provide deep breathing exercises that one can practice and apply to improve upon any fitness goal or ill-health, or rehabilitative challenge.  Simply apply the daily breathing technique below for improved health benefits.  You will experience anxiety-stress relief, reduced aches and pains, have more energy, cardiopulmonary capacity improvements.  At a minimum, you’ll improve your circulatory properties (blood pressure and heart rate), improve posture, mood, and sleep, also feel better about yourself and maybe notice some weight loss.

     Regardless of your breathing technique, you’ll note it is work, because breathing correctly is exercise.  This is because during exercise you have to consciously and willfully exercise the lungs and chest cavity muscles to capacity.  And breathing exercises should be preformed many times daily to break the habit of shallow breathing.

     An easy breathing exercise that is relaxing to practice whether sitting, or just before sleep, or walking:  While sitting up straight without arching your back, inhale deeply [imagine filling your lungs from the bottom up].  Hold for a count of six and then release slowly for the same count.  During the exhalation, forcibly remove the excess residual air volume from your lungs.  This is easily accomplished by tightening the abdominal area through the exhalation activity.  During the inhalation phase don’t rush it [otherwise you’ll feel like your hyperventilating].  Simply inhale through the nose with the mouth closed.  Hold the inflated lungs for 6 counts and then release for 6 counts through mouth.

     Also, through simple breathing techniques posture is important.  Insure you don’t lean forward and reduce the chest cavity area during this exercise.  If you do this, you’re not exercising your circulatory-lung systems to its full capacity.  Remember to repeat this as many times throughout the day as possible.  Eventually, your involuntary system will maintain a deeper breathing pattern during sleep and during the day.  Your body will then begin to become more oxygenated throughout a 24 hour window.

     And just before sleep, as you lay on your bed, remove the pillow; lay flat and go through 8-10 deep breathing 6 counts of full inhalation and exhalation.  This is very relaxing and good for your mind and body which will greatly aid in your ability to fall asleep.

     Deep breathing is also good to practice before a big interview, or public speaking engagement as well.  It wakes the mind, lungs and posture for better focus and vocal capacity while calming the nerves.

     Remember, it’s easy to get lazy at breathing.  When we were younger our bodies were more active during the day and our breathing was more active during sleep.  Our young active metabolisms craved the oxygen enriched environment and the involuntary act of breathing during sleep was increased.

    However, for many of us as we age, our activity levels decrease and we develop poor postural habits.  When these two things occur the act of shallow breathing is the result.   But through daily aerobic activity and/or combined with daily breathing exercises one can reverse shallow breathing and reap many longevity health benefits for the mind, body and spirit.

 Internet References:

http://www.womentowomen.com/fatigueandstress/deepbreathing.aspx

http://www.stress-relief-exercises.com/deep-breathing-exercises.html

Read the rest of this entry »





Sleep Apnea an Insidious Angel of Death

23 07 2010

I definitely won't fall asleep on this thing.

I first heard of sleep apnea about 10 years back, but never gave it a second thought until 2 years ago when an in-law and now a sibling had been diagnosed and treated for this condition.  I was also told within the last 6 months from a good friend of mine while on a walk a childhood buddy of ours had died in his sleep from this disorder.  It is my understanding his early and unnecessary death occurred for lack of following medical treatment protocols.   I refer to this disorder as an insidious angel of death, why?    Because this is a serious health condition and if ignored can kill without warning!  Our childhood friend was around 47 years of age and left his loved ones before his time.  Since this disorder has such a high risk potential for fatality and emotional pain to family and friends, I felt it was high time to write on this topic.

     First let’s understand the definition of apnea.  It is the temporary suspension of respiration, or without breathing.  Sleep apnea when diagnosed is commonly referred to as OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), or complex apnea.  OSA is the anatomical obstruction that is the cause of airway blockage, where complex can be with obstruction and/or central nervous system problems.  Regardless of sleep disorders cause, it increases the risk of heart failure by way of coronary heart disease for lack of oxygen when breathing is interrupted.  As oxygen levels decrease in the blood, carbon dioxide levels increase.  This condition creates a jumpy nervous system and blood pressure spikes that stresses the heart walls and disturbs heart rhythm.  Over time, this reoccurring condition puts you at risk of a heart attack.  This is not only bad for your heart, but nearly every organ and tissues of the human body creating high risk for many other types of illness and disease. 

     Okay, let’s break this down a little bit more so we can really understand the mechanics of how obstruction occurs.  As the soft palate at the back of the throat collapses during sleep those that suffer from sleep apnea begin to snore and apparently struggle to breath. The obstructive collapse for instance in the neck area while relaxed and during sleep is not able to keep a clear airway passage.  Obstructive soft tissue problems typically occur at the base of the tongue, tonsils and nasal cavity areas.  There is also sleep apnea caused by the central nervous system where the brain is not registering the lungs to breath with regular consistency.  When diagnosed with sleep apnea where obstruction is not the cause, it is understood the problem stems from the central nervous system.  The central system cause of sleep apnea is “not” well understood by researchers why the brain begins to inconsistently regulate breathing during sleep.

     Regardless of whether sleep apnea is caused from an obstructive or neurological problem, lack of oxygen during sleep causes internal disease in the following ways.  When one is awakened abruptly from sleep to catch their breath, adrenaline increases blood pressure which is also believed to contribute to vascular problems.  And with blood pressure surges, one than can also become more at risk for blood clots, stroke, arrhythmias, diabetes hypertension and memory loss.  Sleep apnea may also trigger seizures in the absence of epilepsy, or trigger seizures that were treated well in the past by medications.  In the long run the primary damage caused by this sleep disorder is due to unstable blood pressure regulation and adequate oxygen to the heart and brain.  Sleep apnea has the same risk factors on health as risks associated with heavy smoking.

     Sleep Study Tests Show the Following Results:  While asleep, those with sleep apnea unknowingly experience episodes where they stop breathing.  This can occur 5-50 times per hour and up to 300 times during regular sleep.  But if the “non breathing” episodes only last seconds or less, this does not appear to have a significant health risk to the body.  But if one is sleeping and averages 30 “non breathing” episodes per hourly average where breathing stops up to 10 second intervals minimum between breaths, this is where serious health risk increases and incremental/accumulative damage to the heart occurs.  While loved one(s) and friends assume you simply have a bad, loud obnoxious snore, this could in fact be an indicator of something far worse than irritating those around you.  And also be aware, just because you snore does not mean you have sleep apnea.  Only a sleep study test can prove this for sure.

     High Risk Indicators:  Those that are obese tend to have a lot of fatty tissue and low muscle tone around neck area.  Obesity creates the anatomical characteristics of obstruction potential for impingement, pressing down, or blockage of the airway while lying down.  Also males between 40-70 years of age and diagnosed with sleep apnea have a 68% higher risk of “coronary heart disease” than those without it.  And men that have been diagnosed with OSA have a 58 percent greater risk of “cardiac failure” than those without.  Women don’t appear to suffer from this condition, but science agrees more studies on women are recommended.   The common times of sudden death appear to occur mostly between the hours of midnight to 6am.

   What to look for:  Listen for loud snoring and/or those that fall into the obese category. If both breathing and snoring stops while the chest and body attempt to breath, this is classic of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.  When breathing starts you’ll note a gasp for air and snoring begins again.  

 Other Recommendations and Medical Treatment

  1. Diagnostic tests: Oximetry or polysomnography – If you have insomnia consider asking your doctor to be referred to a Level 3 sleep study where your breathing, oxygen flow, heart rate and chest/abdomen expansion are monitored overnight.
  2.  CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) This is mask worn while sleeping that injects air into the respiratory system without interruption of obstructing air flow to the body.  How it works: The device blows positive pressure into the nose to keep the airway from collapsing.
  3. Sleep at 30 degree elevated level helps to keep gravity pulling down on weakened tissues around the neck area from obstructing airway. 
  4. Decrease weight, stop smoking, chewing tobacco.
  5. If you are diabetic your odds of OSA increase 3-fold. Seek treatment and follow your doctor’s advice for diabetes.
  6. Avoid alcohol, muscle relaxants, chronic opiate use.  The presence of sleep apnea without an obstructive component appears to be a common symptom for those that abuse opiates.
  7. For those with OSA and are candidates for surgery to alter the airway may be your solution to getting away from CPAP dependency.  I.e., Throat, base of tongue and facial skeleton surgery can correct the anatomical obstruction cause.
  8. Check on medications and other treatment for complex sleep apnea that include unknown central nervous system cause, e.g., Acetazolamide to lower blood pressure and encourage respiration.

 References

  1. http://www.medindia.net/news/Risk-of-Heart-Disease-Increases-With-Obstructive-Sleep-Apnea-71310-1.htm
  2. http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Treating+sleep+deprivation+begins+with+proper+diagnosis/3295105/story.html
  3.   http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/news/20050323/sleep-apnea-makes-wee-hours-sudden-death-time
  4.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_apnea

 Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2010 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.





Sleep Apnea an Insidious Angel of Death?

23 07 2010

I first heard of sleep apnea about 10 years back, but never gave it a second thought until 2 years ago when an in-law and now a sibling had been diagnosed and treated for this condition.  I was also told within the last 6 months from a good friend of mine while on a walk a childhood buddy of ours had died in his sleep from this disorder.  It is my understanding his early and unnecessary death occurred for lack of following medical treatment protocols.   I refer to this disorder as an insidious angel of death, why?    Because this is a serious health condition and if ignored can kill without warning!  Our childhood friend was around 47 years of age and left his loved ones before his time.  Since this disorder has such a high risk potential for fatality and emotional pain to family and friends, I felt it was high time to write on this topic.

     First let’s understand the definition of apnea.  It is the temporary suspension of respiration, or without breathing.  Sleep apnea when diagnosed is commonly referred to as OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), or complex apnea.  OSA is the anatomical obstruction that is the cause of airway blockage, where complex can be with obstruction and/or central nervous system problems.  Regardless of sleep disorders cause, it increases the risk of heart failure by way of coronary heart disease for lack of oxygen when breathing is interrupted.  As oxygen levels decrease in the blood, carbon dioxide levels increase.  This condition creates a jumpy nervous system and blood pressure spikes that stresses the heart walls and disturbs heart rhythm.  Over time, this reoccurring condition puts you at risk of a heart attack.  This is not only bad for your heart, but nearly every organ and tissues of the human body creating high risk for many other types of illness and disease. 

     Okay, let’s break this down a little bit more so we can really understand the mechanics of how obstruction occurs.  As the soft palate at the back of the throat collapses during sleep those that suffer from sleep apnea begin to snore and apparently struggle to breath. The obstructive collapse for instance in the neck area while relaxed and during sleep is not able to keep a clear airway passage.  Obstructive soft tissue problems typically occur at the base of the tongue, tonsils and nasal cavity areas.  There is also sleep apnea caused by the central nervous system where the brain is not registering the lungs to breath with regular consistency.  When diagnosed with sleep apnea where obstruction is not the cause, it is understood the problem stems from the central nervous system.  The central system cause of sleep apnea is “not” well understood by researchers why the brain begins to inconsistently regulate breathing during sleep.

     Regardless of whether sleep apnea is caused from an obstructive or neurological problem, lack of oxygen during sleep causes internal disease in the following ways.  When one is awakened abruptly from sleep to catch their breath, adrenaline increases blood pressure which is also believed to contribute to vascular problems.  And with blood pressure surges, one than can also become more at risk for blood clots, stroke, arrhythmias, diabetes hypertension and memory loss.  Sleep apnea may also trigger seizures in the absence of epilepsy, or trigger seizures that were treated well in the past by medications.  In the long run the primary damage caused by this sleep disorder is due to unstable blood pressure regulation and adequate oxygen to the heart and brain.  Sleep apnea has the same risk factors on health as risks associated with heavy smoking.

     Sleep Study Tests Show the Following Results:  While asleep, those with sleep apnea unknowingly experience episodes where they stop breathing.  This can occur 5-50 times per hour and up to 300 times during regular sleep.  But if the “non breathing” episodes only last seconds or less, this does not appear to have a significant health risk to the body.  But if one is sleeping and averages 30 “non breathing” episodes per hourly average where breathing stops up to 10 second intervals minimum between breaths, this is where serious health risk increases and incremental/accumulative damage to the heart occurs.  While loved one(s) and friends assume you simply have a bad, loud obnoxious snore, this could in fact be an indicator of something far worse than irritating those around you.  And also be aware, just because you snore does not mean you have sleep apnea.  Only a sleep study test can prove this for sure.

     High Risk Indicators:  Those that are obese tend to have a lot of fatty tissue and low muscle tone around neck area.  Obesity creates the anatomical characteristics of obstruction potential for impingement, pressing down, or blockage of the airway while lying down.  Also males between 40-70 years of age and diagnosed with sleep apnea have a 68% higher risk of “coronary heart disease” than those without it.  And men that have been diagnosed with OSA have a 58 percent greater risk of “cardiac failure” than those without.  Women don’t appear to suffer from this condition, but science agrees more studies on women are recommended.   The common times of sudden death appear to occur mostly between the hours of midnight to 6am.

   What to look for:  Listen for loud snoring and/or those that fall into the obese category. If both breathing and snoring stops while the chest and body attempt to breath, this is classic of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.  When breathing starts you’ll note a gasp for air and snoring begins again.  

 Other Recommendations and Medical Treatment

  1. Diagnostic tests: Oximetry or polysomnography – If you have insomnia consider asking your doctor to be referred to a Level 3 sleep study where your breathing, oxygen flow, heart rate and chest/abdomen expansion are monitored overnight.
  2.  CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) This is mask worn while sleeping that injects air into the respiratory system without interruption of obstructing air flow to the body.  How it works: The device blows positive pressure into the nose to keep the airway from collapsing.
  3. Sleep at 30 degree elevated level helps to keep gravity pulling down on weakened tissues around the neck area from obstructing airway. 
  4. Decrease weight, stop smoking, chewing tobacco.
  5. If you are diabetic your odds of OSA increase 3-fold. Seek treatment and follow your doctor’s advice for diabetes.
  6. Avoid alcohol, muscle relaxants, chronic opiate use.  The presence of sleep apnea without an obstructive component appears to be a common symptom for those that abuse opiates.
  7. For those with OSA and are candidates for surgery to alter the airway may be your solution to getting away from CPAP dependency.  I.e., Throat, base of tongue and facial skeleton surgery can correct the anatomical obstruction cause.
  8. Check on medications and other treatment for complex sleep apnea that include unknown central nervous system cause, e.g., Acetazolamide to lower blood pressure and encourage respiration.

 References

  1. http://www.medindia.net/news/Risk-of-Heart-Disease-Increases-With-Obstructive-Sleep-Apnea-71310-1.htm
  2. http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Treating+sleep+deprivation+begins+with+proper+diagnosis/3295105/story.html
  3.   http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/news/20050323/sleep-apnea-makes-wee-hours-sudden-death-time
  4.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_apnea

 Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2010 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.