What is Narcolepsy? Hint: It’s More Than Feeling Tired

Narcolepsy is a chronic disorder in which a person (even with an adequate night’s rest) experiences excessive and overwhelming daytime sleepiness.  Daytime sleep attacks occur repeatedly with or without warning.

This sleep disorder occurs equally in men and women and is thought to affect roughly 1 in 2,000 people. The symptoms appear in childhood or adolescence, but many people have symptoms of narcolepsy for years before getting a proper diagnosis. Left untreated, narcolepsy can cause serious disruptions in a person’s social, personal and professional lives.

Symptoms of Narcolepsy

People with narcolepsy feel very sleepy during the day and may involuntarily fall asleep during normal activities. In narcolepsy, the normal boundary between awake and asleep is blurred so characteristics of sleeping can occur while a person is awake. For example, cataplexy is the muscle paralysis of REM sleep occurring during waking hours. It causes sudden loss of muscle tone that leads to a slack jaw, or weakness of the arms, legs, or trunk. People with narcolepsy can also experience dream-like hallucinations and paralysis as they are falling asleep or waking up, as well as disrupted nighttime sleep and vivid nightmares.

Getting Support

Narcolepsy is diagnosed by a physical exam, taking a medical history, as well as conducting sleep studies. If you do have narcolepsy, the most effective treatment is often a combination of medications and behavioral changes. People who are diagnosed with narcolepsy should seek counseling through educational networks and support groups. Getting a diagnosis of narcolepsy and managing the symptoms can be overwhelming and the disorder is not well understood by the general public. It helps to learn best practices and access support through others who have the disorder.

Currently, there is no cure for narcolepsy, but medications and behavioral treatments can improve symptoms for people so they can lead normal, productive lives. The first step to a sleep study is setting up an initial visit with a sleep specialist who will review your medical and sleep history. You will then schedule an appointment for an overnight visit.

Finally…

The Sleep Disorders Center at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic is a comprehensive clinic supervised by a physician board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases and is a Diplomate, American Board of Sleep Medicine. Using the latest technology for diagnosing and treating sleep disorders in a comfortable and home-like atmosphere, our team of sleep professionals is dedicated to providing the highest quality of sleep for our patients. We are here to help! Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the National Sleep Foundation).

Our Top Tips: How To Get the Sleep You Need

Unfortunately, getting a full night’s sleep is not an easy task for some. The good news: ADC is here to help. The bad news: You won’t be able to change your sleep schedule overnight.

The most effective tactic is to make small changes slowly, starting with your sleep schedule. If you’re trying to go to sleep at 10:00pm, rather than midnight, for example, try this: For the first three or four nights, go to bed at 11:45pm, and then go to bed at 11:30pm for the next few days. Keep adjusting your sleep schedule like this. By working in 15-minute increments, your body will have an easier time adjusting.

What Are My Options?

Sleep disorders are diagnosed and treated by many different healthcare professionals, including general practitioners and specialist in neurology, pulmonary medicine, psychiatry, psychology pediatrics, and other fields. As part of its mission, the American Academy Of Sleep Medicine (AASM) strives to increase awareness of sleep disorders in public and professional communities. The AASM is the major national organization in the field of sleep medicine. We represent several thousand clinicians and researchers in sleep disorders medicine. At ADC, we focus on diagnoses and treatment of patients who have difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep at night, problems with excessive daytime sleepiness or other medical problems that may occur or exacerbate during sleep.

What Is Our Advice?

The following guidelines can be used for a variety of sleep disorders. They will help most people sleep better. For more specific guidelines for your particular sleep problem, consult your healthcare professional.

  • Maintain a regular wake time, even on days off work and on weekends.
  • Try to go to bed only when you are drowsy.
  • If you are not drowsy and are unable to fall asleep for about 20 minutes, leave your bedroom and engage in a quiet activity elsewhere. Do not permit yourself to fall asleep outside the bedroom. Return to bed when, and only when, you are sleepy. Repeat this process as often as necessary throughout the night.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep, sex, and times of illness.
  • Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals such as a warm bath, light bedtime snack or 10 minutes of reading.
  • Exercise regularly. Confine vigorous exercise to early hours, at least six hours before bedtime, and do mind exercises at least four hours prior to bedtime.
  • Keep a regular schedule. Regular times for meals, medications, chores, and other activities help keep the inner clock running smoothly.
  • While a light snack before bedtime can promote sound sleep, avoid large meals.
  • Avoid indigestion of caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
  • Do not drink alcohol when sleepy. Even a small dose of alcohol can have a potent effect when combined with tiredness.
  • Avoid the use of nicotine close to bedtime or during the night.
  • Sleeping pills should be used only conservatively. Most doctors avoid prescribing sleeping pills for periods longer than three weeks.
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking sleeping pills or other medications.

Talk To Us

A good night’s sleep is within reach. If you suspect that you may have a sleep disorder, contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by Sleep.org).

An Insider’s Guide to Understanding Insomnia

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Insomnia is a disorder in which a person cannot get adequate or quality sleep.  People suffering with insomnia may experience difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during sleep, difficulty returning to sleep and unrefreshed sleep. Some symptoms of a sleep disorder can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Constant leg movement
  • Gasping episodes at night
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Loud snoring
  • Dry mouth, sore throat
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of energy

What Causes Insomnia?

Insomnia can be caused by psychiatric and medical conditions, unhealthy sleep habits, specific substances, and/or certain biological factors. Recently, researchers have begun to think about insomnia as a problem of your brain being unable to stop being awake (your brain has a sleep cycle and a wake cycle—when one is turned on the other is turned off—insomnia can be a problem with either part of this cycle: too much wake drive or too little sleep drive). It’s important to first understand what could be causing your sleep difficulties.

There are many medical conditions (some mild and others more serious) that can lead to insomnia. In some cases, a medical condition itself causes insomnia, while in other cases, symptoms of the condition cause discomfort that can make it difficult for a person to sleep.

Insomnia & Lifestyle

Insomnia can be triggered or perpetuated by your behaviors and sleep patterns. Unhealthy lifestyles and sleep habits can create insomnia on their own (without any underlying psychiatric or medical problem), or they can make insomnia caused by another problem worse.

Examples of how specific lifestyles and sleep habits can lead to insomnia are:

  • You work at home in the evenings. This can make it hard to unwind, and it can also make you feel preoccupied when it comes time to sleep. The light from your computer could also make your brain more alert.
  • You take naps (even if they are short) in the afternoon. Short naps can be helpful for some people, but for others, they make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
  • You sometimes sleep in later to make up for lost sleep. This can confuse your body’s clock and make it difficult to fall asleep again the following night.
  • You are a shift worker (meaning that you work irregular hours). Non-traditional hours can confuse your body’s clock, especially if you are trying to sleep during the day, or if your schedule changes periodically.

Some cases of insomnia start out with an acute episode but turn into a longer-term problem. For example, let’s say a person can’t sleep for a night or two after receiving bad news. In this case, if the person starts to adopt unhealthy sleep habits such as getting up in the middle of the night to work, or drinking alcohol before bed to compensate, the insomnia can continue and potentially turn into a more serious problem. Instead of passing, it can become chronic.

It’s important to address insomnia instead of letting it become a regular part of your life. If lifestyle and unhealthy sleep habits are the cause of insomnia, there are things that can help. If you have tried to change your sleep behaviors and it hasn’t worked, it’s important to take this seriously and talk to your doctor.

Insomnia & The Brain

In some cases, insomnia may be caused by certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are known to be involved with sleep and wakefulness.

There are many possible chemical interactions in the brain that could interfere with sleep and may explain why some people are biologically prone to insomnia and seem to struggle with sleep for many years without any identifiable cause—even when they follow healthy sleep advice. Contact us if you have any question or to schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the National Sleep Foundation).

Sleep Hygiene Rules You Actually Want To Know

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Sleep isn’t just “time out” from daily life. It is an active state important for renewing our mental and physical health each day. More than 100 million Americans of all ages, however, regularly fail to get a good night’s sleep.

At least 84 disorders of sleeping and walking lead to a lowered quality of life and reduced personal health. They endanger public safety by contributing to traffic and industrial accidents. These disorders can lead to problems falling asleep and staying asleep, difficulties staying awake or staying with a regular sleep/wake cycle, sleepwalking, bedwetting, nightmares, and other problems that interfere with sleep. Some sleep disorders can be life-threatening.

Sleep Hygiene Rules

These guidelines can be used for many different sleep disorders. They will help most people sleep better. For more specific guidelines for your particular sleep disorder, consult your healthcare professional.

  • Keep a regular time to get up in the morning, even on days off work and on weekends.
  • Go to bed only when you’re drowsy.
  • Leave your bedroom and engage in a quiet activity elsewhere if you are unable to fall asleep within 20 minutes. Do not permit yourself to fall asleep outside the bedroom. Return to bed when, and only when, you are sleepy. Repeat this process as often as necessary throughout the night.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep, sex, and times sickness.
  • Avoid napping during the daytime. If you nap, try to do so at the same time every day and for no more than 40 minutes. Mid-afternoon (no later than 3:00 pm) is best for most people.
  • Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals such as a warm bath, light bedtime snacks, or 10 minutes of reading.
  • Exercise regularly. Do not exercise vigorously any later than 6 hours before bedtime, and do mild exercises at least 4 hours prior to bedtime.
  • Keep a regular schedule. Regular times for meals, medications, chores and other activities help keep the inner clock running smoothly.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime. A light snack before bedtime can help you sleep soundly. A large meal before bedtime can cause difficulty sleeping.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime.
  • Do not drink alcohol when sleepy. Even a small dose of alcohol can have a potent effect when combined with tiredness.
  • Use sleeping pills carefully. Most doctors avoid prescribing sleeping pills for longer than 3 weeks.
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking sleeping pills or other medications.

Some symptoms of a sleep disorder can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Constant leg movement
  • Gasping episodes at night
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Loud snoring
  • Dry mouth, sore throat
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of energy

Good sleep hygiene and medications are aimed at improving the soundness of a person’s sleep. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule and appointment.

 

Good Sleep – Healthy Heart

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Sleep is a time of rest for the entire body. Even the heart, which works day and night, naturally slows down during sleep. That’s why unhealthy heart function can deprive the body of restful sleep. Yet, the relationship between heart function and sleep works both ways. For instance, sleep-related breathing disorders have been shown to play a major role in causing several types of heart and blood vessel disease.

Maintaining a Healthy Heart

Many things can be done to maintain a healthy heart: eat a nutritional diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, get regular medical check-ups, and get adequate amounts of good quality sleep. If you have any kind of heart condition, it is especially to watch signs that you may have a sleep related breathing disorder, such as OSA, which could stress your heart.

Breathing Disorders And The Heart

People with OSA are often overweight and experience loud snoring, gasping or choking episodes while sleeping, as well as trouble staying awake during the daytime. If you already have hypertension or cardiovascular disease (coronary artery disease, angina pectoris, stroke), talk with your healthcare professional about whether or not you may have a sleep and breathing disorder, such as OSA or CSA. It is also important that patients with congestive heart failure be monitored for CSA and other sleep disorders. In contrast to people with OSA, those with heart failure and CSA are commonly thin and may not snore at all. If your healthcare professional thinks that you have a sleep disorder, he or she may suggest you have a diagnostic test, called a sleep study, or refer you to a sleep medicine specialist. Sleep studies are usually done in a sleep laboratory. Small sensors called electrodes are attached to your body to measure your sleep, breathing heart rate and oxygen level. The sleep specialist will be able to determine whether you have any abnormalities in the quality of your sleep. Your healthcare professional is then given the results and the two of you can decide on the best course of treatment. Sleep disorders are treatable, and treatment can lead to a more healthy heart.

How To Sleep Well

  • Get up about the same time every day.
  • Go to bed only when sleepy.
  • Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals, such as a warm bath, light bedtime snack, or 10 minutes of reading.
  • Exercise regularly. Vigorous exercise should be confined to the early part of the day, light exercise should take place at least four hours before bedtime.
  • Maintain a regular schedule.
  • Avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
  • Try to nap at the same time every day; mid-afternoon is best for most people.
  • Never combine sleeping pills and alcohol.

Sleep isn’t just a “time out” from daily life. It is an active state important for renewing our mental and physical health each day. If you’re failing to get a good night’s sleep, contact us to schedule an appointment or answer any questions.

The Sleep Center: How We Can Help You

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According to the National Commission on Sleep Disorders, millions of Americans are needlessly suffering from undiagnosed or misdiagnosed sleep disorders. While poor sleep can have a negative effect on performance, alertness, memory concentration and reaction times, it is also being linked to other health issues such as heart disease and depression.

Sleep disorders are a serious health concern. It is especially important for persons suffering from hypertension, diabetes, obesity and heart failure to see a sleep specialist for the detection and treatment of sleep apnea as it may prevent heart attacks and strokes as well as minimize underlying symptoms of other diseases. Left untreated, sleep disorders can lead to increased health risks and an overall lower quality of life.

Symptoms of a sleep disorder can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Daytime Sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Constant leg movement
  • Gasping episodes at night
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Loud Snoring
  • Dry mouth, sore throat
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of energy

People who have sleep disorders may experience:

  • More frequent illness
  • Lost productivity
  • Workplace accidents or car crashes from falling asleep on the job or at the wheel

About the ADC Sleep Disorder Center

The sleep disorder center at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic opened in 1999 and is a comprehensive clinic accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Our sleep center is supervised by highly trained, highly qualified, and board certified physicians. Using the latest technology for diagnosing and treating sleep disorders in a comfortable and home-like atmosphere, our team of sleep professionals is dedicated to improving the sleep of our patients.

What is a Sleep Study?

A sleep study may involve the following:

Polysomnogram (PSG) – a diagnostic test which monitors brain activity, breathing and leg movements which helps to evaluate sleep apnea (obstruction of air flow) or a condition known as periodic leg movements of sleep.

Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) – a daytime sleep study which evaluates how fast a person falls asleep.

What to Expect?

The first step will be an initial visit with our sleep specialist who will review your medical and sleep history. You will then schedule an appointment for an overnight visit. To help determine if a sleep disorder exists, your physician will need to know what physiologic chances occur during your typical night of sleep. We do this by recording your brainwave pattern (known as the EEG) as well as your eye movements and degree of muscle tone. Using an EKG monitor, we will measure your heart rate and check for irregular heart beats during the night. Other measurements will include oxygen saturation, snoring, leg movements or jerking and respiratory effort. An intercom in the room will allow communication with the technician should have any questions or require assistance. Studies will usually begin between 8:00pm and 9:00pm and will conclude at about 6am. You will then follow up with your physician who will make recommendations for treatment of the disorder.

We are a team that’s committed to making sure our patients get the best sleep possible. Contact us if you have any questions or to set up an appointment. 

Shift Work and Problem Sleepiness

ADC shift work and problem sleepiness

Some information provided by The National Sleep Foundation.

About 20 million Americans (20 to 25 percent of workers) perform shift work. Most shift workers get less sleep over 24 hours than day workers. Sleep loss is greatest for night shift workers, those who work early morning shifts, and female shift workers with children at home. About 60 to 70 percent of shift workers have difficulty sleeping and/or problem sleepiness.

Sleep-Wake System

The human sleep-wake system is designed to prepare the body and mind for sleep at night and wakefulness during the day. These natural rhythms make it difficult to sleep during daylight hours and to stay awake during the night hours, even in people who are well rested. It is possible that the human body never completely adjusts to nighttime activity and daytime sleep, even in those who work permanent night shifts.

In addition to the sleep-wake system, environmental factors can influence sleepiness in shift workers. Because our society is strongly day-oriented, shift worker who try to sleep during the day are often interrupted by noise, light, telephones, family members and other distractions. In contrast, the nighttime sleep of day workers is largely protected by social customs that keep noises and interruptions to a minimum.

Problem sleepiness in shift workers may result in:

  • Increased risk for automobile crashes, especially while driving home after the night shift
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Decreased productivity (night work performance may be slower and less accurate than day performance
  • Increased risk of accidents and injuries at work

What Can Help? 

Many people simply do not allow enough time for sleep on a regular basis. A first step may be to evaluate daily activities and sleep-wake patterns to determine how much sleep is obtained. If you are consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, more sleep may be needed. A good approach is to gradually move to an earlier bedtime. For example, if an extra hour of sleep is needed, try going to be 15 minutes earlier each night for four nights and then keep the last bedtime. This method will increase the amount of time in bed without causing a sudden change in schedule. However, if work or family schedules do not permit the earlier bedtime, a 30 to 60 minute daily nap may help.

For some shift workers, napping is essential. It can be extremely effective at eliminating fatigue-related accidents and injuries and reducing workers compensation costs. Although most employers do not allow napping in the workplace, a ban on napping may soon prove to be a legal liability. Thus, efforts to make workplace policies nap-friendly may soon gain popularity as the issue increases in global significance.

Here are some tips for sleeping during the day:

  • Wear dark glasses to block out the sunlight on your way home.
  • Keep to the same bedtime and wake time schedule, even on weekends.
  • Eliminate noise and light from your sleep environment (use eye masks and ear plugs).
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and foods close to bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol; although it may seem to improve sleep initially, tolerance develops quickly and it will soon disturb sleep.

If you think you are getting enough sleep, but still feel sleepy during the day, check with ADC to be sure your sleepiness is not due to a sleep disorder. Contact us if you have any questions or to set up an appointment. 

Problem Sleepiness And Adolescents

ADC - Adolescents and problem sleepiness

Sleepiness can be due to the body’s natural daily sleep-wake cycles, inadequate sleep, sleep disorders or certain drugs. Many U.S. high school and college have signs of problem sleepiness such as:

  • Difficulty getting up for school
  • Falling asleep at school
  • Struggling to stay awake while doing homework

The need for sleep may be 9 hours or more per night as a person goes through adolescence. At the same time, many teens begin to show preference for a later bed time, which may be due to a biological change. Teens tend to stay up later but have to get up early for school, resulting in their getting much less sleep than they need.

Many factors contribute to problem sleepiness in teens and young adults,but the main causes are not getting enough sleep and irregular sleep schedules. Some of the factors that influence adolescent sleep include:

  • Social activities with peers that lead to a later bedtime
  • Homework to be done in the evenings
  • Early wake-up times due to early school start times
  • Parents being less involved in setting and enforcing bedtimes
  • Employment, sports or other extracurricular activities that decrease the time available for sleep

Teens and young adults who do not get enough sleep are at risk for problems such as:

  • Automobile crashes
  • Poor performance in school and poor grades
  • Depressed moods
  • Problems with peers and adult relationships

Many adolescents have part-time jobs in addition to their classes and other activities. High school students who work more than 20 hours per week have more than 20 hours per week have more problem sleepiness and may use more caffeine nicotine and alcohol than those who work less than 20 hours per week or not at all.

Sleep – There is no substitute! 

The amount of sleep needed each night varies among people. Each person needs a particular amount of sleep in order to be fully alert throughout the day. Many people simply do not allow enough time for sleep on a regular basis. A first step may be to evaluate daily activities and sleep-wake patterns to determine how much sleep is obtained. If you are consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, more sleep may be needed. If you think you are getting enough sleep, but still feel sleepy during the day, check with your doctor to be sure your sleepiness is not due to a sleep disorder. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

The Problem With Problem Sleepiness

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Everyone feels sleepy at times. However, when sleepiness interferes with daily routines and activities or reduces the ability to function, it is called “problem sleepiness.” A person can be sleepy without realizing it. For example, a person may not feel sleepy during activities such as talking and listening to music at a party, but the same person can fall asleep while driving home afterward. You may have problem sleepiness if you:

  • Consistenlty do not get enough sleep or get poor quality sleep
  • Fall asleep while driving
  • Struggle to stay awake when inactive such as when watching televison or reading
  • Have difficulty paying attention or concentrating at work, school or home.
  • Have performance problems at work or school
  • Are often told by others that you are sleepy
  • Have difficulty remembering
  • Have slowed responses
  • Have difficulty controlling your emotions
  • Must take naps on most days

What Causes Problem Sleepiness?

Sleepiness can be due to the body’s natural daily sleep-wake cycles, inadequate sleep, sleep disorders or certain drugs.

Sleep-Wake Cycle

Each day there are two periods when the body experiences a natural tendency toward sleepiness: during the late night hours (generally between midnight and 7 a.m.) and gain during the midafternoon (generally between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.). If people are awake during these times, they ahve a higher risk of falling asleep unintentionally, especially if they havent been getting enough sleep.

Inadequate Sleep

The amount of sleep needed each night varis among people. Each person needs a particular amount of sleep in order to be fully alert throughout the day. Research has shown that when healthy adults are allowed to sleep unrestricted, the average time slept is 8 to 8.5 hours. Some people need more than that to avoid problem sleepiness; others need less.

If a person does not get enough sleep, even on one night, a “sleep debt” begins to build and increases until enough sleep is obtained. Problem sleepiness occurs as the debt accumulates. Many people do not get enough sleep during the work week and then sleep longer on the weekends or days off to reduce their sleep debt. If too much sleep has been lost, sleeping in on the weekend may not completely reverse the effects of not getting enough sleep during the work week.

 

What Can Help?

Many people simply do not allow enough time for sleep on a regular basis. A first step may be to evaluate daily activites and sleep-wake patterns to determine how much sleep is obtained. If you are consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night, moe sleep may be needed. A good approach is to gradually move to an earlier bed-time. For example, if an extra hour of sleep is needed, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night for four nights and then keep the last bedtime. This method will increase the amount of time in bed without causing a sudden change in schedule. However, if work or family schedules do not permit the earlier bedtime, a 30 – to 6o minute daily nap may help.

A person with problem sleepiness is limited in reaching their full potential, let us help you find a solution. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

The Connection Between Sleep And Heart Disease Explained

ADC - sleep and heart disease

Scientific studies have shown a direct connection among sleep, sleep disorders, and heart disease. There is an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (dying from heart stoppage) in the first several hours after waking up. It is known that in there is an increased work demand on the heart that occurs when you wake up. People with sleep-related breathing disorders are more likely to have high blood pressure and are at risk of heart disease and stroke. Treating certain sleep-related breathing disorders may actually decrease a person’s chances of developing certain heart diseases.

Effects of Heart Disease on Sleep

As outlined above, sleep-related breathing disorders can directly cause heart disease. Yet, there are side effects of heart disease on sleep that, though more subtle, are also important to address. For instance, patients with congestive heart failure often report difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep This may be due to shortness of breath that often accompanies heart failure. This shortness of breath is often worse when the patient lies down because blood in the legs flows back into the heart and can overwhelm its ability to pump.

Heart failure patients may have orthopnea (shortness of breath when lying down) or paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (waking up from sleep short of breath). Patients who experience these symptoms may feel like they have insomnia since their sleep is interrupted. In addition to experiencing these complications from heart disease, patients often worry about the long-term consequences of a heart attack or chronic heart disease. Anxiety by itself can lead to the development of chronic sleep problems.

There are many complex relationships between heart conditions and sleep-related breathing disorders. People with heart conditions need to take special care and seek medical attention in order to ensure their ability to sleep well.

Good Sleep and A Healthy Heart

Many things can be done to maintain a healthy heart: eat a nutritional diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, get regular medical check-ups, and get adequate amounts of good quality sleep. If you have any kind of heart condition, it is especially important to watch for signs that you may have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as OSA, which could stress your heart. People with OSA are often overweight and experience loud snoring, gasping or choking episodes while sleeping, as well as trouble staying awake during the daytime If you already have hypertension or cardiovascular disease, talk with your healthcare professional about whether or not you may have a sleep and breathing disorder, such as OSA or CSA.

It is also important that patients with congestive heart contrast to people with OSA, those with heart failure and CSA are commonly thin and may not snore at all. if your healthcare professional thinks that you have a sleep disorder, he or she may suggest you have a diagnostic test called a sleep study, or refer you to a sleep medicine specialist. Sleep studies are usually done in a sleep laboratory. Small sensors called electrodes are attached to your body to measure your sleep, be able to determine whether you have any abnormalities in the quality of your sleep. Your healthcare professional is then given the results and the two of you can decide on the best course of treatment. Sleep disorders are treatable, and treatment can lead to a more healthy heart.

How to Sleep Well

These guidelines can help most people sleep better, as well as helping many individuals with different types of sleep disorders. For more specific guidelines about your own sleep problem, consult your healthcare professional.

  • Get up at the same time every day.
  • Go to bed only when sleepy.
  • Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals such as a warm bath, light bedtime snack, or 10 minutes of reading.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a regular schedule.
  • Avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
  • Try to nap at the same time every day; mid-afternoon is best for most people.
  • If sleeping pills are prescribed, they should be used conservatively. Most doctors avoid prescribing sleeping pills for periods longer than three weeks
  • Never combine sleeping pills and alcohol.

There are many complex relationships between heart conditions and sleep-related breathing disorders. People with heart conditions need to take special care and seek medical attention in order to ensure their ability to sleep well. Contact us to answer any questions or to set up an appointment.