Is A Sleep Apnea Pillow Right for You?

No, a sleep apnea pillow is not a special kind of pillow that will magically stop your sleep apnea. I wish.

Rather, these are pillows that are designed to work with your sleep apnea device, such as a cpap, and still be able to sleep comfortably in any position.

I have a few reservations about such a pillow. Actually, just one. That is that the ideal sleeping position for anyone is on one’s back. A CPAP forces a person to stay in (approximately) that position, which is good for your health, quality of sleep, and even can reduce apnea and snoring.

Nevertheless, I sympathize with those who don’t want to sleep on their backs. It can be uncomfortable and takes some getting used to. When you through a CPAP machine into the mix, well, like I said, I sympathize.

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Snoring: The Silence Killer

Stop SnoringSnoring can be a troubling problem for couples. The person who snores often is unaware of it, but their spouse is forced to deal with a noisy saw night after night. Sometimes it is a small saw, and sometimes it sounds like a chainsaw. Once the spouse is awake they will often try to do something to wake up the snorer, such as making loud noises, shaking the bed or even kicking their partner. Pretty soon both people are lying awake, angry with each other. It can be a vicious cycle.

40% of adults snore, and it is more common among men than women (although post-menopausal women snore almost as much as men). It is also more common among those who are overweight.

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Sleep Restriction Therapy

As a treatment for insomnia, sleep restriction therapy falls under the “behavioral treatment methods”. It also falls under the paradoxical concept of “less is more”. That may sound contradictory to you at first.

 

A paradox is, in fact, something that seems contradictory on the surface, but once you delve into the subject a bit you find that it makes sense.

Less is More

For example, I’ve been training for a marathon over the last several months. For a period of about six weeks I found that I was getting tireder and tireder, and my legs were aching all the time. I decided I was pushing too hard, so I backed off of my mileage and intensity. Instead of trying to run 70+ mile weeks I was only running 50 or so.

The result? After two weeks the pain went away, my energy picked up and I was able to slowly build the mileage back up to 60/week, and I was running faster. In my case, less running = more benefit.

The reason “less is more” is often true is because we have limited bodies and minds. We are designed to handle excesses for periods of time, but then we must have time to recover. If we eat too much for a few days we will gain weight if we don’t back off and return to a normal diet. If we exercise too long and too hard our bodies will begin to break down, until we back off and allow time to recover.

Similarly, our sleep can become disrupted because of a variety of issues, and the solution may be to back off. Sleep restriction therapy is a way of backing off temporarily and then slowly building back up to a normal level.

How Sleep Restriction Works

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Understanding Insomnia

I Can't SleepWhat is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a large and important topic. Whole books are written about it. Within this article I will highlight what is most important to know about the problem and some steps towards overcoming it.

 

First of all, insomnia is more of a symptom than it is an illness. The word insomnia comes from the Latin In (not) + Somnus (sleep). It literally means “not sleeping”.

Be that as it may, most insomnia sufferers get some sleep. The problem is that the sleep is either too short or of poor quality.

Everyone experiences a sleepless night of tossing and turning once in a while. This is normal and is not outside of healthy sleep. However, when insomnia becomes a regular occurrence it is a sleep disorder. There are three categories of insomnia, ordered according to duration:

Categories of Insomnia

  • Transient Insomnia – Lasts less than a week. This type of insomnia can usually be connected with some kind of stress
  • Acute Insomnia – From one week to one month in duration. Acute insomnia does not mean the person has not slept at all for a month, but that sleep has been difficult to initiate or sustain, or that the quality of the sleep has been very poor and unrestful.
  • Chronic Insomnia – More than one month of poor sleep. Additional effects caused by long term sleep disruption may include severe muscle fatigue, aches and pains, hallucinations, lack of concentration, mental fatigue and double vision.

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Thurday Sleep Tip: Make Spring Forward a Small Bounce

ClockThe start of Daylight Savings time is just around the corner – on March 11th, to be specific. Regardless of whether you agree with the whole ‘Spring Forward’/'Fall Back’ rigamarole, it is reality for most of us, so the most important question is ‘how do we deal with it?’.

 

In general, shifting our sleep schedule one hour isn’t a huge deal. Most people can make the adjustment pretty easily in just a couple days. Nevertheless, there are ways to make it even simpler for you. And, for those who really do struggle with the change the rest of this week’s ‘Thursday Sleep Tip’ should help you out.

Which Problem is Toughest for You?

Adjusting the clock an hour, whether forward or backward, affects our sleep in two ways. It affects the time you go to sleep. And it affects the time you get up. OK, that was fairly obvious. Still, it’s an important consideration because some people suffer more on one end of the sleep schedule than on the other, and it isn’t the same for everybody.

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Sleep Apnea Could be Killing You

Sleep apnea afflicts millions of adults. The word ‘apnea’ comes from the Greek apnoia a – “no” or “not”, and pneo/pnein – “air” or “breathing”. It literally means ‘no air’ or ‘not breathing’. The term is used to describe a medical condition wherein the afflicted person stops breathing for a brief period of time. Sleep apnea is simply the specific condition of apnea that occurs while sleeping.

 

There are two forms of sleep apnea – obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). Of the two, OSA is much more common. It was once believed to be a rare occurrence, but the ability to test for it has uncovered the truth. Approximately 18 million adults in the United States are currently suffering from OSA today.

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Thursday Sleep Tip: Nine Ways to Overcome the Snooze Button

I still remember my first digital alarm clock. It was big, had red numbers on it, played radio music for up to an hour as I fell asleep each night. Oh yes, and it had a snooze button.

 

I was a paperboy at the time. I had to get up early to get the newspaper out before school, and I hated that alarm clock. I would hit that snooze button again and again, like Apollo Creed pounding on Rocky’s face. Some mornings I would go 15 rounds before dragging myself out of bed.

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The Effects of Age on Sleep

Have you ever heard the phrase, “I slept like a baby”? Do we need less sleep as we age? Do teenagers really need more sleep than at any other age? I’ll be answering this and many other age/sleep related questions.

 

Our memories may not serve us well in the department of sleep needs for children. It’s probably been a long time since you were young, and if you haven’t had kids of your own recently, you might not realize how much our sleep habits change through the years. In particular, the time from birth through adolescence is tumultuous for sleep patterns.

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Thursday Sleep Tip: Beating Jet Lag

AirplaneIf you’ve ever traveled in an east-west direction by plane then you have experienced jet lag, or if you prefer the scientific term, desynchronosis.

 

Many of our body’s systems and processes are governed by circadian rhythms. A circadian rhythm is a natural twenty four hour biological clock that resets certain physiological cycles for good health. Our sleep cycle is one example, and jet lag throws off this rhythm. Air travel causes us to move through time zones faster than we can adjust to the change. It creates a shortened or lengthened day, and also alters the light/dark cues we receive from daylight.

The Effects of Jet Lag

Typical symptoms of jet lag include daytime sleepiness, insomnia, repeated nighttime awakenings, headaches, lack of concentration, impaired judgment, and stomach discomfort, to name a few.

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Sleep and Stress: Sleeping the Night before a Job Interview (or other big, important event)

Today I had a job interview. It was the first for me in many years. I usually do pretty well in job interviews, but I still get nervous beforehand. They are very stressful! I found out back in December that my “position is being eliminated”, so I consider this to be the first of potentially many such interviews over the coming weeks and months.

 

When interviewing for a job, of course you want to be at your best. You want to be prepared to answer all those questions, you want to be able to express yourself clearly, you want to know about the job for which you are applying, and so on. Another key part of good preparation is to be well rested. This can be a challenge. Sleep and stress don’t tend to mix that well. The butterflies that spring up don’t usually wait until right before the interview, but may start days beforehand. This can make sleep a challenge the night before, when it is most important.

Now, I am no stranger to the struggles of trying to sleep the night before a big event. I am a runner and a marathoner, and I always get a bit nervous before these stressful events, especially the marathons. In fact, marathons can make me feel a little anxious as much as a week beforehand. Also, a couple times a year I have to teach a forty minute lecture to over 200 people. And, there are other momentous (stressful) events that come up throughout any given year that can make sleep difficult. So, over the years I’ve developed a few tricks that help me to get through the nervousness, and I’m happy to report that last night I was able to sleep reasonably well. How was I able to do it?

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