May 20, 2013
As the baby boomer generation ages, it’s not surprising that more and more people complain of memory problems. Here’s an article that describes the results of a survey which revealed that nearly 13% of people 60 or over reported confusion or memory loss which has worsened over the past 12 months. So far there are no definitive studies that suggest that untreated obstructive sleep apnea can cause Alzheimer’s disease (no scientific study will ever propose cause and effect), but based on how prevalent obstructive sleep apnea is in our country, and knowing how much sleep apnea causes various types of brain damage, it’s not too far fetched to say that untreated obstructive sleep apnea may explain a significant number of cases of memory loss or dementia. Anecdotally, many of my patients do report improved memory after sleep apnea treatment.
May 16, 2013
Theravent looks like another potential new option for snoring, but upon further inspection, looks like technology that’s also found in Provent. These are nasal adhesives that allow you to breathe in normally, but provides partial resistance when you breathe out through your nose. Numerous studies have been published on the effectiveness of Provent for sleep apnea, but I’ve had mixed results in my practice. However, many patients do like them, so I continue to offer these devices. The website for Theravent offers a free trial, so it’s worth looking into if you want to try something different.
Have you tried Provent or Theravent? Please comment on your experiences.
May 8, 2013
About 3% of teens in this country were found to experience extreme fatigue lasting 3 or more months not relieved by rest. This short article in US News & World Report highlights the importance of a small segment of teens who are severely debilitated. The vast majority go untreated. It’s also likely that many will sleep excessively long hours and still not feel refreshed.
I wonder how many of these teens have an untreated sleep-breathing disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome. It’s not too common to have teenagers’ fatigue explained by their poor sleep habits, hormonal changes, or just “being a teenager,” when in fact the source of their problem may be an undiagnosed sleep-related breathing disorder. For example, even a simple viral infection or allergy attack can enlarge lymphoid tissues in the throat, nose and tongue (palatine tonsils, adenoids and lingual tonsils), leading to more frequent partial to total obstructions and arousals. This can prevent quality deep sleep, leading to chronic, prolonged unrelenting fatigue.
What you’ll see that that these teens will oftentimes prefer to sleep on their sides or stomachs, and have a parent that snores heavily (obstructive sleep apnea).
Do you have a teen that’s overly fatigued, no matter how long they sleep?
May 2, 2013
There have been more and more studies showing an association between sleep duration or sleep apnea with increased cancer risk. In this study, longer sleep duration was associated with increased colon cancer risk in people who snored or were overweight. As we know from cancer research studies, hypoxia is a major mechanism of cancer progression. Whether you stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night, or have increased levels of stress from not sleeping long enough, lower levels of oxygen can result.
April 28, 2013
Here’s an important article that everyone should read in the New York Times. The author highlights the fact that in many cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the real deficit may in your child’s sleep.
April 10, 2013
Here’s another chicken or egg question: Do poor sleep habits cause diabetes and lower melatonin levels, or does diabetes cause lower levels of melatonin? In this study out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, having lower levels of melatonin was associated with a higher risk of diabetes. This does not prove that having lower levels of melatonin will give you diabetes, but only an association where directionality is not known.
One minor detail that’s important to remember is that when darkness stimulates brain neurons to produce melatonin, the signals goes through the cervical sympathetic ganglion, before reaching the pineal gland. A common side effect from any of the high blood pressure medications is that it lowers function of this ganglion, which is involved in the sympathetic nervous system. Blood pressure medications can lower activity of your sympathetic nervous system, which can in theory lower your melatonin levels.
So of you have high blood pressure, by taking blood pressure medications, you could be lowering your melatonin levels, which lead to poor sleep, which can result in weight gain, which can aggravate snoring and obstructive sleep apnea….and we know that obstructive sleep apnea can raise your sugar levels.
This example only shows that the human body can’t be reduced to one single molecule or chemical at a time. We need to look at multiple aspects of our physiology simultaneously.
April 10, 2013
In this teleseminar, I interview Dr. A. Joseph Borelli, who is President and Medical director of MRI at Belfair, in Bluffton, SC. He is a leading expert in brain imaging and has an interest in brain imaging in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. He’s going to show some eye-opening radiologic images of your brain after repeated apneas.
Please fill in your information below to access the free MP3 recording:
April 3, 2013
Here’s an interesting study showing that the presence of heart disease may predict dementia better than cognitive tests. This finding is not surprising since we know that untreated obstructive sleep apnea can cause major injury to multiple areas of the brain. We also know that the older you get, the more likely you’ll develop sleep apnea. In fact, based on some recent population studies, more than half of people over 50 had some degrees of sleep apnea.
March 28, 2013
Dr. Weston Price showed that cultures that change from native to modern, Western diets produce jaws with more dental crowding, crooked teeth and more cavities. Others have shown that softer foods and even bottle-feeding can also promote dental crowding. Smaller jaws can lead to smaller airways, leading to a number of health problems due to poor sleep. Here’s an interesting perspective on how modern man’s bites have changed simply by eating in a more civilized manner: using table knives and forks.
Staff writer for the New Yorker magazine Jane Kramer reviews a book by Bee Wilson, “Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook And Eat.” On the third page of the online version, there a section where the author describes the work of American anthropologist Charles Loring Brace, who specialized in the evolution of hominid teeth. He dates the onset of the modern Western overbite at around 250 years. Prior to this human incisors lined up edge to edge, like a guillotine. Then all of a sudden, human jaws, especially in the more civilized areas (who used forks and knives to cut meat into bite-sized pieces), started to develop an overbite. This change happened too quickly to be as a result of evolution. Here’s an excerpt from Kramer’s article:
By the late eighteenth century in Europe, people were slicing their food into bite-size morsels and carrying them to their mouths with forks—those formerly weird things, Wilson calls them. And they hardly needed to chew such tiny pieces, which in most cases were already softened by pounding, overcooking, or long, gentle braisings. At the same time, the modern overbite began to appear prominently in upper-class Western European jaws. Do not confuse this with the seriously inconvenient condition known to the world as buck teeth (without which we would have no orthodontists, and no mortified adolescents with mouthfuls of rubber bands and wire braces). Wilson’s modern overbite refers to “the way our top layer of incisors hangs over the bottom layer, like a lid on a box,” as she nicely puts it, and is “the ideal human occlusion” for the way we now eat. Why this happened and how long it took to happen is open to some debate, but it’s clear that until it happened most humans had the bite of other primates—“where the top incisors clash against the bottom ones, like a guillotine blade.”
Wilson’s favorite theory comes from the American physical anthropologist Charles Loring Brace, a specialist in the evolution of hominid teeth. In 1977, Brace published an article that put the age of the Western overbite at no more than two hundred and fifty years—which is to say that flatware and, with it, a significant change in how we chewed were all it took for the edge-to-edge occlusion that we inherited from the Neanderthals to be replaced by the bite we now call normal. Brace was haunted by overbites. He had long assumed them to be an incremental and selective evolutionary change that began with agriculture and the consumption of grains. But the jaws he studied, on his way to building a database on the evolution of hominid teeth—apparently the biggest in the world—changed his mind. The transformation he’d seen in those eighteenth-century-gentlemen jaws was too abrupt, and too radical, to qualify as evolution, especially given the rapidity with which it then followed the spread of flatware into the middle classes, in the nineteenth century. In 1914, in the run-up to war with Germany, a stainless-steel alloy—developed to prevent corrosion in gun barrels—went on sale in Sheffield, England. Once stainless appeared on the country’s dinner tables, the guillotine bite all but disappeared.
There have been further significant milestones in how to eat our food, what foods we eat, as well as how we feed our children. If you think about the implications of how quickly modern humans’ jaws have changed just in the past few hundred years, it’s a frightening thought. As our faces get smaller and our brains get bigger, what will we look like in 2000 years? Here’s a thought.
What do you think about Kramer’s article?
March 27, 2013
Guest post by Jimmy Keillor
When it comes to snoring, there are plenty of solutions out there for people to try, from sleep-retainers, to specialty pillows, to nasal strips and beyond. Besides solutions that require a prescription, these are some of the most effective snoring solutions that I’ve seen out there. Let me say, first and foremost, that neither I nor the site-owner are receiving any kind of compensation for these reviews. We do not necessarily endorse these products, and I write about them from a completely objective standpoint. That said, here are 5 of my favorite OTC anti-snoring products.
Good Morning Snore Solution
The ZQuiet is different from other mouthpieces in that it isn’t a jaw-retaining mouthpiece, but a tongue-retaining mouthpiece. This is one gets a lot of good reviews because it will remedy snoring that is caused by multiple problems, including blockage of the airway by tongue, uvula, jaw, etc., while many others are simply concerned with the jaw. This mouthpiece offers a level of comfort that many others don’t, and also has been backed up by studies done in controlled settings, published in the Journal of Sleep and Medicine.
Zicac Stop Snoring Wrist Watch
This is one of the more interesting snoring solutions out there—it’s not actually a watch, but a device that shocks you if you snore. So it’s like a shock-collar that you put on mischievous pups to keep them from barking, except that it’s not supposed to hurt you, or even wake you up, but just cause a sort of stimulus that will get you to change your sleeping position, roll over, etc. Unfortunately, the problem with this device is that it does hurt some people, while others don’t feel it at all. It’s all over the place in terms of who it works for and who it doesn’t, so I usually recommend staying away from this one.
Rematee Bumper Belt
The bumper belt is a very simple idea. Like anti-snoring pillows, the bumper belt is designed to keep snorers on their sides, though these belts do so by strapping inflatable bumpers to your back that makes it extremely hard to roll over. Like the Zizac Stop Snoring Wrist Watch, everybody reacts differently to this product because it is a one-size-fits-all belt. Those that this belt fits (and that snore because they sleep on their back, and for no other reason) generally review the product favorably. If you fit those criteria, you probably will too. If, however, you snore for reasons related to your weight, dry membranes, or anything other than the fact that you sleep on your back, this product is not for you.
Breathe Right Nasal Strips
Any type of nasal strip is going to be, most likely, your most inexpensive snoring remedy. Unfortunately, nasal strips don’t generally constitute a complete solution when it comes to snoring, but they do work pretty well as a supplementary device at the low price of about $10. Some people can’t seem to get these strips to stick, while on the other hand some people complain that they hurt to take off because they stick so much, so they are not perfect, but as newer iterations of the device come out these problems seem to be fast disappearing.
The SnoreEzzz is an interesting device. It is different from other anti-snoring pillows because of its two-piece design. Unfortunately, people I know (including myself) have given this pillow more bad reviews than good ones, because the pillow seems to go flat fast—which means that is not only uncomfortable, but also that it stops being effective. There are better solutions out there, but if you are looking for an anti-snoring pillow, this one is right there for $65.
There are, of course, plenty of other solutions out there, and a large majority of them don’t cost a thing. If you are interested in learning more about those tips, check out this page over at the Top Anti-Snoring Devices blog. Last, but definitely not least, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.
About the Author: Jimmy Keillor is a retired medical researcher and freelance writer who has studied the causes and effects of sleep deprivation his entire career. Many of his colleagues consider him a valuable reference when it comes to disruptive sleep patterns. When he’s not studying or writing, Jimmy enjoys parasailing and taking his two boys to the rodeo.