Lower Melatonin Levels Up Your Risk of Diabetes

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.

Heart Disease, Dementia and Sleep Apnea

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. 


Can Sleep Loss Make You Fat?

March 19, 2013

It’s long been known in sleep medicine that lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight. But it works the other way around as well: Being overweight gain aggravate obstructive sleep apnea, leading to lack of quality sleep. Here’s an article in the NY Times that summarizes a study showing that even mild degrees of sleep deprivation can cause metabolic changes that promotes weight gain. This article emphasizes sleep deprivation only, but knowing that a huge segment of the population has undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, it’s safe to say that lack of quality sleep can also promote weight gain.

Many of you (whether or not you have obstructive sleep apnea) don’t get enough hours of sleep in general. The ideal number of hours is 7 to 8, but everyone has different needs. This is assuming you’re able to breathe normally at night. It’s also been shown that short sleepers (less than 6) or long sleepers (longer than 9) have much higher risk of developing diabetes, depression, heart disease, and even death.

If you’re a short sleeper, I challenge you to sleep one hour longer for the next month. Just by making this one change alone, you’re more likely to lose some weight.

If Kid’s ADHD Continues Into Adulthood…

March 7, 2013

Here’s a study which reports that 29% of children with ADHD go on to have ADHD as adults. I’ve written extensively about how a significant portion of kids with ADHD have undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, in one study, taking out tonsils and adenoids cured 50% of children with ADHD. Clearly, not all ADHD is related to a sleep-breathing problem, but even if it’s due to sleep apnea in 50%, or 25%, or even 10%, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to at least screen for it? 

Expert Interview: Dr. Jeff Rouse on TMJ and Sleep Disorders

February 28, 2013

PreviewScreenSnapz001In this teleseminar, I interview Dr. Jeff Rouse, about the relationship between TMJ disorders and sleep-breathing problems. 


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What’s the Link Between Erectile Dysfunction And Heart Disease?

February 1, 2013

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common condition that’s usually treated by urologists with medications. In the sleep medicine literature, there are numerous studies showing that many men with ED have undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and that treating OSA can significantly improve or even cure ED. Here’s one of many papers (PDF). Even in my practice, men oftentimes comment that this is a positive side effect of CPAP. 

Here’s another study that reiterates the known association between ED and cardiovascular disease. There’s no mention of sleep whatsoever. We also know that obstructive sleep apnea is a major risk factor for heart disease. It’s frustrating to know that most of these men will never have their obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed or treated.

I’m not saying that all cases of ED are due to OSA. But even if 50% of patients are improved, wouldn’t it be worthwhile looking into this possibility? Not to mention that once you’re able to sleep better, things can begin looking up again :)

Does Your Child Have Sleep Apnea? My Interview with Dr. Ebrahimian, Holistic Dentist

January 21, 2013

Please join me tomorrow when I’m interviewed by  Dr. Ariana Ebrahimian, for her Healthy Child Show. She has a great list of expert guests who will talk about everything from nutrition and good eating habits to better sleep and orthodontic care. In this interview, I’ve been asked to talk about:

  • How to know if your child may have sleep apnea
  • Why and how sleep apnea happens
  • The most effective way to end snoring
  • 5 tips for children to breathe easier and sleep better
  • And much more valuable information to improve your child’s health.

Please click here to listen to the interview at 1PM Pacific (4PM Eastern) on Tuesday, January 22.

An Interesting Snoring Demonstration

January 19, 2013

I just found an interesting YouTube video that demonstrates how snoring occurs. It’s made by an Israeli dentist, Dr. Dany Maor.


Ask Dr. Park: What You Can Do When CPAP Fails

December 31, 2012

In this teleseminar, I’ll go over all options when CPAP doesn’t work for you. 

• What other options are there when CPAP doesn’t work?

• Are dental devices effective?

• What are my surgical options?

• Do tongue exercises, acupuncture or didgideroo playing help to cure sleep apnea?

• What about Provent nasal plugs?

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Study Finds Sleep-Disordered Breathing Affects 1 in 10 Kids

December 27, 2012

Here’s another study showing that a significant percentage of children are found to have sleep-disordered breathing. Researchers in Finland found that 1 in 10 children suffered from either obstructive sleep apnea or snoring. What was different about this study compared to other studies is that obesity wasn’t the main reason that correlated with a sleep-breathing disorder. Rather, it was their dental occlusion, or how their upper and lower teeth fit together, as well their facial shapes. 

This is exactly what I’m seeing in young children with sleep-related breathing disorders. They are not usually overweight, but have narrow faces with recessed jaws, and a high arched hard palate. 

Considering that resistance to airflow increases exponentially as the diameter decreases (inversely to the 4th power, see Hagen-Poiseulle equation), even minor changes in our jaw structures can have huge consequences when it comes to breathing, especially when our upper airways are susceptible to collapse in multiple areas.

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