Keys to a happier, healthier, more productive life By Craig Schwimmer, MD
Because snoring and sleep apnea are often associated with weight gain, one of the things I find myself talking with patients about is the need to exercise. So many adults lead sedentary lives and regular exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. But, as this article points out, regular exercise doesn’t have to be terribly time consuming. There is significant evidence that brief, intense exercise works. For the past two years I have been doing something called Slo Fit, which consists of a single, 30 minute session of weight training per week. Using slow, controlled weight lifting, major muscle groups are worked to failure, and allowed to recover fully before the next week’s session. This approach significantly increased my fitness level, and it is so convenient that I’ve only missed three sessions in two years. I encourage all of my patients who are looking for safe, efficient, sustainable ways to exercise to consider this method.
Remember – diet, exercise, and sleep are the keys to a happier, healthier, more productive life!
Sleep and Adolescent Obesity By Craig Schwimmer, MD
A new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine looked at the relationship between obesity and sleep duration, and showed that teens who got more sleep had lower rates of obesity. This four year study of 1000 teenagers showed that, particularly for heavier teenagers, more sleep translates into lower body weight.
Extrapolating their results to the general population, the study’s authors suggest that if every American 18 year old increased his sleep time from 8 to 10 hours per night, we could have 500,000 fewer overweight adolescents!
The authors also acknowledged that educating teens about the importance of adequate sleep does not significantly change their sleeping behaviors, and suggest that delaying the start time for high school (so that teens can sleep later in the morning) may be a more effective approach.
What is Sleep Apnea? By Paul Fulmer, MD
It seems more and more in the media we are hearing about the increasing rise in Sleep Apnea! Why is that? What is Sleep Apnea? Do I have it? These are all questions that come to mind every time another commercial, news story or article touts the problems and cures for this condition.
One of the primary reasons sleep apnea is on the rise in our country is because of the increase in obesity. There is a direct correlation between weight and severity of sleep apnea. Interestingly though even thin, athletic people can suffer from sleep apnea due to their anatomy. So it can really affect anyone!
The common symptoms of Sleep Apnea are loud snoring, observed pauses or stops in breathing at night, daytime tiredness, high blood pressure and morning headaches.
Sleep Apnea is caused by an obstruction of airflow to the lungs during sleep. It is often accompanied by very loud snoring followed by pauses in breathing for longer than 10 seconds. As we reach a deep level of sleep, our muscle tone relaxes and we rest. However, when we loose muscle tone, this can cause obstruction of airflow if there is excessive tissue collapsing in the back of the throat. This causes a decrease in oxygen to the body, stressing our heart, and making us to wake into a lighter level of sleep to open our airway. Therefore, our sleep is disrupted and we wake up tired and not refreshed.
The least invasive and most effective treatment is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). CPAP relieves the obstruction by delivering positive pressure, via a mask while you sleep. The problem with this approach is that it is only tolerated about half the time.
Fortunately, over the last 10 years several minimally invasive procedures have been developed which improve nasal and oral airflow and help alleviate the obstruction caused during sleep. These procedures can be done in the office, under local anesthesia and you can return to regular activities that same day.
If you are suffering from constant fatigue, have been told you snore loudly or stop breathing at night, or just are concerned that you aren’t getting good sleep? Give us a call. (1-855DrSnore). A simple at home sleep study can confirm if you have Sleep Apnea and then a board certified ENT can discuss your options and get you on your way to sleeping better that day!
Driving and Snoring By Craig Schwimmer, MD
No, it’s not a country song – it’s a potentially deadly combination. Loud snoring is the hallmark of sleep apnea, a disease from which an estimated 18 million Americans suffer. And yet another study has shown that people with untreated sleep apnea are likely to be dangerous behind the wheel. A recent study from University Hospital in Leeds compared people with sleep apnea to people without sleep apnea on their ability to safely complete a 90 kilometer driving simulation. The drivers were evaluated for their ability to follow instructions, stay in the middle lane, and avoid unprovoked car crashes. The drivers who had sleep apnea were twice as likely to fail the test, as were drivers who didn’t have sleep apnea.
Given the public health implications of these findings (do you really want to share the road with someone with untreated sleep apnea?), it is terribly concerning to note that only about 10% of people with sleep apnea are diagnosed and treated.
So if not for your own health, then for the safety of those around you, if you snore, please get checked for sleep apnea. With new home based testing, it’s more convenient and less expensive than ever, and there are also many more ways to treat sleep apnea than in the past.
The Magic Formula for Weight Loss By Craig Schwimmer, MD
This is a very interesting perspective on the comparative effect of diet versus aggressive surgical management. Seems like there really is a magic formula for weight loss: diet, exercise, and sleep!
A Kernel of Truth By Craig Schwimmer, MD
Over the years, I have found that even the most ridiculous health claims tend to stem from some small kernel of truth. Take this “Overnight Diet”, whereby you lose weight just by sleeping, and are not required to exercise. In my opinion, this is just wishful thinking - after all, wouldn’t it be amazing if excess weight really would magically come off just by sleeping! But the idea is based upon a kernel of truth: adequate sleep is essential to weight loss. The disconnect, of course, is that good sleep is necessary, but not sufficient, for weight loss. A successful weight loss program consists of a healthy diet, a reasonable amount of exercise, and adequate sleep. As important as sleep may be to a successful weight loss program (and it really is important), it is just one leg of a tripod. All three elements are required for a successful outcome. So if you are trying to lose weight, by all means get your rest. But eat a little better, and get a little more exercise, too. That’s the real deal.
Allergies keeping you up at night? By Paul Fulmer, MD
This spring has been pretty rough on allergy sufferers. The drastic changes in temperature along with the incredible wind and rainstorms have increased the pollen counts throughout the south. Many patients have notices that their allergies are worse this year and nothing seems to help.
A recent article in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology states that due to climate changes the length of allergy seasons has increased and subsequently the pollen counts as well. Since 1995 the length of fall hay fever season has increased by 13-27 days. This prolonged exposure to elevated pollen counts causes people to become more sensitized to allergens.
- With an allergy, the immune system overreacts to a trigger substance, or allergen. Outdoor allergies (also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever) occur when allergens found outdoors are inhaled into the nose and lungs.
- Common allergens are tree pollen in the spring, grass pollen in the summer and weed pollen in the fall, as well as mold spores. Outdoor mold spores peak in July in warmer states and in October in colder states.
This year because of the warmer weather in certain parts of the country, the spring tree pollen appears to be sliding right into the summer grass pollen and allergy sufferers may not get relief until July.
So what can we do? Avoidance of pollen is the first line of defense. When inside keep windows closed and clean/change your air filters. When outside, severe sufferers should consider wearing a mask while doing yard work. If avoidance is not helping, then your next step is a trial of over the counter antihistamines and decongestants. If no relief, then see your local doctor and see if nasal steroid sprays and prescription antihistamines may turn the tide.
As people become sensitized over the years to allergies, even prescriptions medications may not give them relief. Often getting allergy tested can help explain why nothing seems to be working.
One nice option we offer at the Snoring Center is relief of the allergy symptom, NASAL CONGESTION!! This is often the primary complaint of allergy sufferers. By not being able to breath through their nose at night, their sleep is very disrupted. A simple in office procedure to shrink the nasal tissues swollen by chronic allergies can often significantly improve nasal airflow and quality of life. So if your nose is constantly blocked and nothing seems to help, then give us a call and start breathing again!! 1-855-DrSnore.
Spring Forward…UGH!! By Paul Fulmer, MD
We all look forward to this time of year. Trees budding, flowers blooming and the weather changing from the grey of winter to the bright colors of SPRING!
As much as I love the change of the seasons, the one thing I don’t like is “loosing an hour of sleep!” I know we get more daylight in the evening and longer days, but I just love my sleep!! Don’t you?
If you are having trouble with your sleep patterns, disruptive sleep or even signs of snoring and sleep apnea, this will often exaggerate your tiredness symptoms. Moving the clock forward can really affect your energy level, especially if you already are not getting good sleep.
So, if you can’t seem to bounce back this week after adjusting the clock, then ask your partner if you have the following symptoms. Snoring, restless sleep, trouble concentrating or even gasping or choking at night! You may have developed sleep disordered breathing.
Whether just snoring or a progression to sleep apnea, sleep disordered breathing can come on gradually over years. Therefore, we often don’t realize that we are gradually getting less and less sleep. That is why a sudden change in your internal clock can make it more apparent.
So get outside and enjoy the Spring! But if you can’t seem to shake off the tiredness associated with changing your clock, then give us a call. You may have gradually developed a problem with your sleep and WE can Help!! Our goal at The Snoring Center is to help you get better sleep.
Obese Drivers Are More Likely To Die In Car Crashes By Craig Schwimmer, MD
A recent study shows that obese drivers are more likely to die in car crashes than non-obese drivers. The reason(s) for this are unclear at this time, but this article discusses several possible explanations. Including vehicle design and the underlying poorer health of the obese. I suspect that another factor may be at play: sleep apnea.
We know that obesity is a key factor in sleep apnea. We know that people with sleep apnea experience increased daytime sleepiness. We know that sleepy drivers exhibit levels of impairment comparable to drunk drivers. I believe that at least some of the increased risk of mortality for obese drivers is attributable to sleep apnea, and that this is simply one more public health implication of the growing prevalence of both obesity and apnea in the United States.
The Sleep Apnea Surprise By Craig Schwimmer, MD
It’s only Tuesday, and I’ve already surprised two people by diagnosing them with sleep apnea. Both know that they were snorers, but when asked, they each specifically denied any symptoms related to their snoring, They simply came in hoping to treat their snoring as a way to help their bed partner. Both were slightly overweight, and one had mildly elevated blood pressure. On a standard measure of daytime sleepiness, each reported levels slightly higher than expected. I was concerned that for each of these two patients, their snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea, and so I had each of them undergo a home-based sleep study. They each wore a simple monitoring device to bed last night, and returned today for their results. Both were absolutely astonished to learn that they do indeed have sleep apnea, and aren’t getting normal sleep. Happily, each underwent treatment today, and should soon start enjoying better sleep and better health.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that disrupts sleep, and increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, erectile dysfunction, and many other diseases. It is estimated that up to 10% of adults suffer from sleep apnea, and most of them don’t even know it. Diagnosis and treatment have never been easier, so please – if you snore, get evaluated. You may well improve your own health, as well as your loved one’s.