Shaquille O’Neal recently let the world know he has sleep apnea. He shared his experience of testing and treating it with the world on You Tube. A month later he is announcing his retirement from professional sports. Is it possible that the long term effects of sleep apnea have caused him to feel he has come to the end of his career sooner than he could have? Did his poor sleep from traveling and changing time zones add to the problems he was already having?
Sleep is important to everyone but for an athlete it is an essential part of training. Getting slow wave sleep is where the body releases its growth hormone and heals itself. This deep sleep occurs during the first third of the night. If, like Shaq, you stop breathing 20-39 times an hour it becomes impossible for the body to reach this portion of sleep. Add to the inability the stress of his oxygen dropping throughout the night so he is unable to give enough oxygen to his muscles and you do not get fed. Finally add the stress all this lack of sleep on the body as a whole will keep his body from healing properly.
Shaq also lived a life that kept him from having good sleep hygiene. Traveling and the constant change of time would cause issues with his ability to go to sleep and wake up. The body works best when it has a routine and with constant changes not only of time but also the light that stimulates the brain to help regulate the body rhythm can make the brains ability to shut down difficult.
If Shaq had actually treated his sleep apnea earlier it might have helped improve his health significantly. As this stress works on the body it contributes to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and current research has even linked it to certain types of cancer. The body needs rest to recover and it needs rest to reboot our brain and help with our short term memory. When we do not get this solid rest we pay a price with out health. Although Shaq has played professional ball for 19 years he may have been able to go that 20th season if he had just rested a little better.
What lessons can we learn from this in our own lives? We should listen to our bodies. Snoring and fatigue are not normal. They are signs that should be listened to and discussed with your doctor. If you live alone and do not know if you snore but have other health issues such as high blood pressure or diabetes that are not improving even on medication you might want to ask your doctor about sleep apnea. You might also think that sleep apnea is just for those who are overweight, this is not the case. You can be any size or shape and have sleep apnea. It is more about how your airway is built then how much fat you carry on your body.
Overall sleep is important to your health and if you get a good night sleep each night you will find that your health and your energy levels should improve.
Everyone has questions and issues as they learn about their new bedtime friend, their CPAP machine. This first week will really set the tone for your success with your machine. During this time it is essential for you’re to ask questions and get the help you may need so that you sleep better at night.
These 5 steps will help you have a great first week on your CPAP and will help you move on to a successful future of restful sleep
1. Learn what the results of your sleep study were. You really need to understand why you need the CPAP. Learn what your test says. What was your Apnea/Hypopnea index, the number of times you stopped breathing and breathed so shallow your oxygen levels dropped? Knowing how bad your sleep apnea is will allow you to understand that this machine will help you to feel better and live healthier, Did you have other issues such a limb movements and teeth grinding, also known as Bruxism? If you have other issues your doctor may not want to deal with them until after he has dealt with the sleep apnea. Know that these conditions may still cause you to wake up during the night and might have to be pursued at a later time. What pressure did they use to correct the breathing issues and what pressure did all snoring go away? If you understand why the pressure was set at a certain level you might better understand why the machine feels the way it does.
2. If you are having a mask problem, deal with it as soon as possible. Most insurance companies will replace a mask during the first 30 days. If you do not give the company enough notice you may run out of time and have to pay for a new mask. This is especially true if you develop a pressure mark of any type. These usually occur on the bridge of the nose. They mean one of two things, either you have the headgear too tight or that your skin cannot tolerate the pressure of the mask. There are many masks on the market so if the first one gives you problems there is likely a second style of mask that will work better for you.
3. If you cannot sleep with the machine the first night, do not fret. Many people have this problem. The sensation of CPAP blowing air in your nose and mouth may take a little getting used to. Try using it while sitting in the living room watching television. This will give your mind something to concentrate on, a comfortable place for you to learn to adjust to the air and will make it less threatening then lying in a dark room with nothing to do but stare at the ceiling. Once you have done that for a few hours then bring it back to the bedroom and try using it at night again. The second time you should feel more comfortable and be more successful falling asleep with your CPAP.
4. Find the right humidity for you. Humidification can help reduce stuffy nose, sinus issues and dry mouth but you have to find the balance between fixing drying problems and getting too much water in your mask and tubing during the night. Just remember that a dry nose and mouth is much more uncomfortable then a little condensation on your nose.
5. Talk to someone if you cannot solve a problem. Three days after you get your new machine the company that set you up should call you to see how you are doing. Do not hesitate to talk to them. Tell them the truth. They may have a solution to your problem. If they do not have a solution, talk to your doctor. Sometimes they are able to give you a prescription to help deal with an issue. If you need to be reinstructed about something to do with the machine. The company that set you up will be happy to come out and reinstruct you. That is what they are paid for. But they do not know what you need if you do not tell them. Ask the question you never know what solutions will pop up.
Once you have had your first week of sleep on your CPAP machine you will find that you will start to feel less tired during the day. You might even find that some of your health issues that brought you to the sleep lab in the first place may be improving. It might take a little work but in the end the time you spend learning to use your CPAP will be well worth it.
Sleep problems during hot weather are very common and the fatigue that accompanies it makes sleep more important then ever. However, if you can not make yourself comfortable then you will not get the rest you need to have the energy you want during the day. So here are a few tips that might help you to feel great during the day and sleep well at night.
You have been diagnosed wit sleep apnea for the most part you are dependent on your doctor, lab technicians, the equipment company and your insurance for which machine you will have the ability to get. But if you know what machines are on the market and what they offer you can choose a machine that will help you while keeping your needs in mind
The first think you need to consider is cost. What really is the issue is not so much the cost of the machine, because they all run about the same price, but what you are willing to pay for and what you are willing to accept if you have insurance. Insurance companies have different ways of paying for durable medical equipment. Some treat as a regular part of insurance. So if you have a deductible of $500 and then they pay 80% for care once that deductible is reached then you know what your expense will be. This is not all insurances. You may have an insurance hat has a durable medical equipment rider. In this case it will have its own deductible that you will have to meet and then it will pay a percentage after it is met. The third type of program is an HMO program. Usually they have a specific copay of $50-$100. They also require the use of a specific durable medical equipment company and will limit what equipment can be used including machines, masks and if you get a home visit or if you receive the machine from a UPS box. If you are paying cash then you will have the most say over what type of machine you will receive. However if you have a big deductible and know it you might get a better deal paying cash and submitting the claim yourself then you would using your insurance.
Once you have determines what you are willing to spend and what your insurance will cover then next decision is to figure out what is the most important aspects of the machine for you. If you travel a lot it might be the size of the machine. If you like to camp it might be that you want a back up battery. If you know you have a great deal of problems with nasal congestion in might be a machine with the best humidification system. Whatever issues you face it is important to know them up front so when you are working with the therapist who is setting up you new machine they know what is important to you.
The other issue is something that many patients are not aware of but is vital to getting insurance to pay for the machine. Many insurances including Medicare require documented compliance of the use of the equipment. This is usually done one of three ways. A person comes to your house reads the hours of use on the machine. The second way is that the machine has a card that you either plug into your computer and download and send to the DME company or your physician. The third, and newest way, is that your machine will have a modem that will allow the DME company and your physician to follow you use remotely. The remote compliance also allows changes to your machine without someone having to come to your house.
Now that you know about what factors are involved with choosing a machine let discuss what some of the machines on the market have to offer.
As far as size on the average the newer machines weight between 2.5 and 3 pounds and are quite small. They have built in humidification systems, although some are better then others. The newest machines are also more aesthetically pleasing. Resmed's new machine the S9 has a sleep look and resembles a book shape sitting on the night stand. Most of the other machines are either shaped as a cube or shaped like and alarm clock. They all have a hose and a mask to attach the machine to the patient. If however you plan to travel the Everest has the ability for you to purchase a rechargable battery that fits over the bottom of the machine. This allows for a stacked cube shape that is still faily light weight.
The cost can be a big consideration for a person especially if they have a high deductible or no insurance. Some of the basic machines like the Everest, the Tango and some of the older models do not have as many of the newer comfort measures but they do allow for good basic therapy at an affordable price. For those with no insurance and limited income many of the DME companies work with the manufacturers to get discounts of no cost machines based on income.
If you have trouble with drying during the night then one of the machines with a heated wire tubing system such as the Resmed S9 or the Fisher Paykel machines will pprobably be your best choice. Fisher Paykel is the leader in this technology having initially created it to help with ventilation of neonatal patients who were being ventilated.
If you wish for the newest, quietest machines with the most comfortable software so that the machines allows the pressure to work with you both the Respironics PR series and the Resmed S series of machines have been upgrades to be the quietest on the market. They have also created software for their machines that will work to make these machines more like natural breathing then breathing on a machine. Both of these machines also have th eability to have a modem added for closer following of compliance and for changing of pressures without having to go visit the patient's house.
When choosing a CPAP machine you should always listen to you physician but with a little education you might be able to avoid some of the problems that many new patients have. Decide for yourself what issues are most important to be met and then discuss your options with a professional. Look at these machines and try them out at your local DME company before you make a final decision.
CPAP therapy is the “gold standard” for treating obstructive sleep apnea, also called OSA. For some of the people who use CPAP it is very difficult to use every night. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest is a lack of education. With this in mind there are five things that you can try that may help you being more successful with your CPAP.
CPAP therapy is designed to help you live a healthier life. It is long term care for the person who is using it and for the person who sleeps with him or her. It reduces snoring, apnea, and airway resistance. It does take some getting used to but in the end the energy and better health you experience from using your CPAP on a regular basis will be worth it.
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An article was released about teens and the effects of caffeine and technology is having an effect of teens and their sleep. I know I live this issue daily. I have a teen son and a daughter who is just in her 20s. The problem is that we have not created a culture that supports teens and their needs.
This article was timely as this week my son took his yearly standardized tests. He has to get up at 6am to get ready for school so he can arrive just before 7am. He will then sit in the testing room he is assigned to and will take a test that will determine his future. Of course what they are not thinking about as these students enter the school is that more then half of the students walk on campus with an energy drink, diet soda or Starbucks in their hand. They are all yawning, dragging their feet and look like they could use two more hours of sleep. When they normally attend class at least 3-4 of the students will want to put their head down during at the very least 1 period. These are not fresh, excited students. These are sleep deprived people that our culture is trying to get to fit into a cheapest easiest way to give them an education. We have not created an education that is designed for them to become successful educated individuals that can perform at their optimum.
Add to this early more education some new parts to our culture. Their diets include processed food, chemical substances, and stimulants like caffeine. They are exposed to light 24 hours a day and their brains are stimulated from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. They are in the computer, playing video games or watching television. They have 2-3 hours of homework they need to do when they come home. They also have outside activities. Things like my son’s Boy Scout meeting will last from 7-10:30 at night. We have not set them up for optimal sleep we have set them up to be sleep deprived.
It is difficult to tell a 5’10” boy that it is bed time at 9 or 10 pm. The world has not stopped or even slowed down by then. He still has homework he wants to tweak, friends to chat with or challenge on a game, or just wants to watch a show he knows everyone will be talking about at school the next day. He gets tired around 11-12pm and is sound asleep no later then 1am. On the weekend he sleeps until 11am and sometimes a little longer. His friends are the same way.
I believe that we have to look at what our children need, how to create a healthy environment for them and then nurture that. Is sending our children to school at 7am really in their best interest? One of the local school districts changed the time for the high school children from 7 to 9. Next year they are changing it back because it interferes with after school work and activities. Did they even bother to look at the student’s attendance, grades or test results? They did not.
So what is the result of sleep deprivation with our teens? It is multifold, sleep deprivation can increase the incidence of depression, increase the symptoms of ADD, increase the chances of obesity. It interferes with learning and storing information into long term memory.
Now we need to explain to our teens why a sleep routine, turning off all electronics and going to bed early I so important. We need to overcome peer pressure so that our children understand that this is the norm. We need to be examples for them. We need a very strong sleep routine that includes turning off the computer and the television. We need to make time for the family to sit and eat together and read together. These changes will help them during the tough teen years. We need to help them reach their true potential.