December 2012: Difficultly Sleeping?

8 Indicators That You Have Sleep Apnea

If you have these symptoms or conditions, you should be checked by a physician specializing in sleep disorders:

  1. Daytime sleepiness regularly
  2. Your partner complains about your snoring
  3. Abnormal breathing patterns at night
  4. You stop breathing 3 times at night
  5. You fall asleep while driving
  6. You fall asleep while reading
  7. Short neck
If you have 3 or more of these conditions, you should make an appointment immediately.

Good Sleep Is Key to Functioning Better

What is Causing You to Lose Sleep?

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Many factors contribute to lack of good sleep.  As a person ages, they are more prone to poor sleep caused by having to go to the bathroom more frequently.  Drinking caffeine too close to bedtime.  Here are a few tips to improve sleep:
  • Stop drinking fluids 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Use compression stockings if you encounter swelling in the legs. Elevate the legs 1-2 hours before sleeping.
  • Treat urinary tract issues before they become a problem.  Often cranberry juice or extract helps.
  • Do not read or watch TV in the room where you sleep.
  • Practice a bedtime ritual that helps you to sleep. i.e. soft music or aromatics.
  • Get more exercise.
  • Take short vs. longer daytime naps.
  • Keep the bedroom dark.  Even a little light can disrupt sleep.
  • Limit your sugar intake.
If you find that you are awake after trying to fall asleep for more than 15 minutes, get up and do an activity.  Then go back to sleep later.
There may be times when you feel mental confusion or fuzziness.  Many factors affect the brain’s function.  Since the brain utilizes up to 25% of the oxygen in the body, it must be pumped from the heart.  If you don’t exercise regularly and spend a lot of time sitting in a chair, you will experience mental dullness.  If you have sleep apnea or snore a lot, you are depriving your brain of oxygen.  You may want to be tested to make sure this is not your problem.

Why is Lack of Sleep So Dangerous?

Lack of sleep can cause a lack of spatial awareness and increase the chance of falls or accidents.  Poor sleep can contribute to depression and lower immune system activity making a person more receptive to illness and disease.  Sleep helps the body to restore and rejuvenate systems.  Insomnia can cause chronic pain, heart failure, COPD and neurological disorders.  While people with Parkinson’s have more fragmented sleep, those individuals with Alzheimer’s tend to have increased levels of sleep.  They have frequent awakenings with a decrease in slow wave and REM sleep.  Currently, melatonin is the only therapy without side effects.  Research done in Europe has shown that many people with Alzheimer’s or dementia have sleep apnea.
By taking a short nap in the afternoon, it helps your body to revitalize body systems.  It is the equivalent to rebooting your computer.  Also, practice breathing deeply to the count of 6 and then breathing out to the count of 6.  Do this 15 times to engage your parasympathetic nervous system which helps you to relax.  If you do this before going to bed, you will sleep a more relaxed sleep.  Practicing meditation, taking a hot bath or listening to a hypnotic tape are other forms of increasing relaxation.