Breathing through the nose instead of the mouth is key for sleep apnea patients, but it’s also important for everyday health. Our noses are specially designed to filter impurities through nose hairs, and warm and moisten incoming air with the mucous membrane. The mucous membrane also makes mucus, which captures particles and germs. The mouth isn’t equipped to protect the lungs by filtering or warming air, so excessive mouth breathing can lead to ear and sinus infections, snoring, headaches, and other health issues.
Mouth breathing can also be a sign of sleep apnea since patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) tend to sleep with their mouths open. If you regularly wake up with dry mouth, approach your doctor to find out why you’re sleeping with your mouth open.
Some sleep apnea patients have trouble keeping their mouth closed even with CPAP therapy, but a chin strap can remedy that problem. A variety of chin straps of differing materials and sizes are available on the market so patients can select a strap that’s effective and comfortable.
For mouth breathers with sleep apnea, a full-face mask won’t keep your mouth closed but it should be used to insure CPAP therapy is effective. If you’re a mouth breather but prefer to use a nasal mask, you can use the chin strap to keep your mouth closed. Your sleep specialist can help you determine the right CPAP mask to use, and whether or not you should use a chin strap as well.
Lack of sleep can cause more than dark under eye circles and a surly demeanor. Some more well-known risks from insufficient sleep are increased risk of stroke, obesity and diabetes, anxiety and depression, and heart disease. A new study by Taiwanese researchers showed that another obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) comorbidity is osteoporosis.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism study found that new cases of osteoporosis were 2.7 times higher in OSA patients than those without the disorder, and the association was stronger in women and older adults. Sleep apnea’s deprivation of oxygen to the body was a factor in weakening bones. The study followed 1,377 people with OSA, and 20,655 people without OSA for six years.
Managing OSA with a Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) machine is the best way to reduce risk factors like osteoporosis. Exercising, limiting alcohol consumption, not smoking, and a diet high in vitamin D and calcium are additional ways to prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
Pedometers used to only track your steps, but now consumers have a variety to choose from that do just about everything except make you a latte. With so many options available, it’s tough to know which fitness devices offer the best functionality and price. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to get over my weight-loss plateau, so I sat down with Jennifer Dulaney, my coworker and resident fitness device guru, to pick her brain on which device to use.
Jennifer, who works as an insurance specialist at Active Healthcare, purchased a Body Media Fit Link Armband two years ago because she also hit a weight-loss plateau. She saw the Body Media Fit Armband used on the show “The Biggest Loser,” and also read positive reviews about the device in fitness magazines. The device came with features she liked such as Wi-Fi; Bluetooth compatibility; a heart rate tracker; and the ability to track calories, exercise and sleep. The device’s results surprised Jennifer.
“I don’t think people realize how much sleep is a factor (in affecting weight loss),” said Jennifer.
Jennifer didn’t expect poor quality of sleep to be culprit in her weight-loss mystery. The Body Media Fit Armband showed Jennifer that she wasn’t getting as much sleep as she thought, and Jennifer could correlate lack of sleep with poor eating and exercising habits the following day. She was able to correlate longer, higher quality sleep with better weight loss results. Understandably, Jennifer’s favorite device feature became the sleep tracking functionality.
With so many trackers now available, Jennifer’s advice is to remember that a “fancy,” expensive, brand-name device may not be the best fit. It’s important to think about what functionality the device provides, to read reviews, and to talk to others who have used devices to gauge the accuracy of different devices. Since I spoke with Jennifer, I’ve made a concerted effort to get to sleep earlier, and I’ve already noticed how sleep affects my appetite and motivation to exercise.
It turns out there may be scientific significance behind the colloquially used phrase “beauty sleep.” Researchers within the Department of Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Stochholm, Sweden investigated facial cues and features and how they signal fatigue. Facial expressions can be a very powerful sociological tool humans can use to communicate emotional states, since the face is the primary source of information in social perception.
The study included 23 individuals who were photographed on two separate occasions. Once after eight hours of normal sleep, and then again after 31 hours of sleep deprivation following five hours of sleep the night before. Out of the initial 23, 10 were chosen to have pictures taken. Pictures were taken in well-lit, non-flash conditions and were asked to display a neutral facial expression. Analyzing the pictures were 40 volunteers, both women and men, and with a mean age of 25. The volunteers were asked to rate the pictures based on facial cues, which had been predetermined. Examples of the most used cues are hanging eyelids, red eyes, swollen eyes, dark circles under eyes and pale skin.
Unsurprisingly, individuals were rated as looking more fatigued after a period of sleep deprivation versus a night of normal sleep. Hanging eyelids was the cue most recognized as someone being sleep deprived. The study did find that there was no big difference between men and women in respect to their facial cues when fatigued. Worthy of note, subjects were also perceived to be sad when fatigued. Characteristics such as droopy corners around the mouth and tense lips incited perceptions of sadness.
The face is made up of a very powerful neural network, which also happens to be your first impression when you come into contact with another person. There is belief that facial cues can also hinder interpersonal communication, as someone who is perceived to be sleep deprived may appear to be less inviting and possibly less trustworthy that someone who is well rested.
What did you think of this study? Is your lack of sleep showing on your face or are you well rested?
How do sweat-inducing hot flashes, muffin-top expansion, lethargy and insomnia sound? The aforementioned doesn’t sound too appealing, however, to many women, this is the reality of the oft-abhorred “midlife transition.” But, many of these side effects can be remedied. Many women find this transition to be fulfilling, a chance to start out on a new adventure and seize the day, so to speak. At Sound Sleep Institute, we have a deep-seated passion for sleep. Sleep hygiene, we understand, is considered to be taboo by many in the fast paced world we live in. But there does come a point in all of our lives in which we must assess the importance of our sleep routine, and for those going through menopause, what better time? Don’t let menopause cause upheaval in your life and rob you of the restorative sleep you need.
Hormone fluctuations are the culprit to those pesky hot flashes. Hot flashes and night sweats can wake you out of a peaceful sleep, only to leave you lying there in bed unable to nod back to your slumber. According to a 2007 National Sleep Foundation survey, nearly half of women between the ages of 45 and 64 say they have trouble sleeping. The good news is that those reprehensible hot flashes can be held in check. A mixture of herbs and supplements, exercise and dietary changes can have you sleeping like you did before, if not better than when menopause began.