Patient Education

Patient Education

At The Sleep Center of Nevada, we believe in the importance of patient education. Our goal is to raise awareness about sleep, sleep disorders and issues impacting sleep to help you improve and enhance your health and quality of life.

Patient Education and Sleep Disorder Info, The Sleep Center of Nevada

Children and Sleep Disorders/Teens and Sleep

Teens and Sleep – Teenagers love to stay up late and hate to get up in the morning. So when is it a serious problem that should be addressed? When it interferes with their quality of life. When it interferes with their school.

Look for the following signs and symptoms of a sleep disorder or a sleep problem in your teens:

  • Difficulty waking up in the morning to get to school.
  • Continually late for class and trouble getting out in the morning.
  • Yawning frequently throughout the day in school.
  • Teen has difficulty in school paying attention and/or they are noticed falling asleep during class.
  • Irritability, anxious or gets angry easily on days when they receive less sleep.
  • Teen runs from one extra-curricular activity (job, sports) to another each day and then stays up late doing homework.

If your Teen demonstrates two or more of these signs, try to first get them on a regular sleeping pattern. If that doesn’t seem to work, talk to their physician about their sleep or call our Sleep Center for a consultation

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound. Sleep Apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep 3 or more nights each week. You often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep when your breathing pauses or becomes shallow. This results in poor sleep quality that makes you tired during the day. Sleep Apnea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.

Sleep Apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, there are no blood tests for the condition. Most people who have Sleep Apnea don’t know they have it because it only occurs during sleep. A family member and/or bed partner may first notice the signs of Sleep Apnea. The most common type of Sleep Apnea is obstructive Sleep Apnea. This most often means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep. The blockage may cause shallow breathing or breathing pauses. When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring. Obstructive Sleep Apnea happens more often in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone.

Untreated, Sleep Apnea can increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes; increase the risk for or worsen heart failure; make irregular heartbeats more likely; increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and/or breathing devices can successfully treat Sleep Apnea in many people. When you’re awake, throat muscles help keep your airway stiff and open so air can flow into your lungs. When you sleep, these muscles are more relaxed. Normally, the relaxed throat muscles don’t stop your airway from staying open to allow air into your lungs. But, if you have obstructive Sleep Apnea, your airways can be blocked or narrowed during sleep because:

  • Your throat muscles and tongue relax more than normal.
  • Your tongue and tonsils (tissue masses in the back of your mouth) are large compared to the opening into your windpipe.
  • You’re overweight.
  • The extra soft fat tissue can thicken the wall of the windpipe. This causes the inside opening to narrow and makes it harder to keep open.
  • The shape of your head and neck (bony structure) may cause a smaller airway size in the mouth and throat area.
  • The aging process limits the ability of brain signals to keep your throat muscles stiff during sleep. This makes it more likely that the airway will narrow or collapse.
  • Not enough air flows into your lungs when your airways are fully or partly blocked during sleep. This can cause loud snoring and a drop in your blood oxygen levels.

Who is at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

More than half of the people who have this condition are overweight.

Sleep Apnea is more common in men. One out of 25 middle-aged men and 1 out of 50 middle-aged women have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea becomes more common as you get older. At least 1 out of 10 over the age of 65 has sleep apnea. Women are much more likely to develop sleep apnea after menopause.

African Americans, Hispanics and Pacific Islanders are more likely to develop sleep apnea that Caucasians.

If someone in your family has sleep apnea, you are more likely to develop it.

People who have small airways in their noses, throats, or mouths also are more likely to have sleep apnea. Smaller airways may be due to the shape of these structures or allergies or other medical conditions that cause congestion in these areas.

Small children often have enlarged tonsil tissues in the throat. This can make them prone to developing sleep apnea.

Other risk factors for sleep apnea include smoking, high blood pressure, and risk factors for stroke or heart failure.

What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
  • Frequent Episodes of Obstructed Breathing During Sleep. (The patient may be unaware of this symptom — usually the bed partner is extremely aware of this)
  • Associated features may include:
  • Loud Snoring
  • Morning Headaches
  • Unrefreshing Sleep
  • A Dry Mouth Upon Awakening
  • Chest Retraction During Sleep in Young Children (chest pulls in)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Overweight
  • Irritability
  • Change in Personality
  • Depression
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Excessive Perspiring During Sleep
  • Heartburn
  • Reduced libido
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent Nocturnal Urination (nocturia)
  • Restless Sleep
  • Diabetes
  • Rapid Weight Gain

How Serious is Sleep Apnea? How is Sleep Apnea Treated?

It is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

The risks of undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea include heart attacks, strokes, impotence, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, obstructive sleep apnea causes daytime sleepiness that can result in accidents, lost productivity and interpersonal relationship problems. The severity of the symptoms may be mild, moderate or severe.

The goals of treating obstructive sleep apnea are to:

  • Restore regular breathing during sleep.
  • Relieve symptoms such as loud snoring and daytime sleepiness.
  • Treatment may help other medical problems linked to sleep apnea, such as high blood pressure.
  • Treatment also can reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
  • Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, breathing devices, and/or surgery are used to treat sleep apnea. Currently, there are no medicines to treat sleep apnea. Lifestyle changes and/or mouthpieces may be enough to relieve mild sleep apnea. People who have moderate or severe sleep apnea also will need breathing devices or surgery.
  • Specific Types of Treatment
  • Lifestyle Changes
  • Stop Smoking
  • Mouthpiece
  • Breathing Devices
  • Surgery

Living with Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea can be very serious. However, following an effective treatment plan can often improve your quality of life quite a bit.

Treatment can improve your sleep and relieve daytime tiredness. It also may make you less likely to develop high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health problems linked to sleep apnea.

Treatment may improve your overall health and happiness as well as your quality of sleep (and possibly your family’s quality of sleep).

Ongoing Health Care Needs

Follow up with your doctor regularly to make sure your treatment is working. Tell him or her if the treatment is causing side effects that you can’t handle.

This ongoing care is especially important if you’re getting continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. It may take a while before you adjust to using CPAP.

If you aren’t comfortable with your CPAP device or it doesn’t seem to be working, let your doctor know. You may need to switch to a different device or mask. Or, you may need treatment to relieve CPAP side effects.

Try not to gain weight. Weight gain can worsen sleep apnea and require adjustments to your CPAP device. In contrast, weight loss may relieve your sleep apnea.

Until your sleep apnea is properly treated, know the dangers of driving or operating heavy machinery while sleepy.

If you’re having any type of surgery that requires medicine to put you to sleep, let your surgeon and doctors know you have sleep apnea. They might have to take extra steps to make sure your airway stays open during the surgery.

How can Family Members Help?

Often, people with Sleep Apnea don’t know they have it. They’re not aware that their breathing stops and starts many times while they’re sleeping. Family members or bed partners usually are the first to notice signs of Sleep Apnea.

Family members can do many things to help a loved one who has Sleep Apnea:

  • Let the person know if he or she snores loudly during sleep or has breathing stops and starts.
  • Encourage the person to get medical help.
  • Help the person follow the doctor’s treatment plan, including CPAP.
  • Provide emotional support

Healthy Sleep Tips

The following ten tips can help you achieve sleep and the benefits it provides. These tips are intended for “typical” adults, but not necessarily for children or persons experiencing medical problems.

You can find information on this site about children and sleep and NSF recommends that persons treated for medical conditions consult their doctor – check our resource, “Sleep Talk with Your Doctor.”

Finally, if you have trouble falling asleep, maintaining sleep, awaken earlier than you wish, feel unrefreshed after sleep or suffer from excessive sleepiness during the day or when you wish to be alert, you should also consult your physician. Be sure to tell him/her if you have already tried these tips and for how long. To check for possible sleep problems, go to our checklist, “How’s Your Sleep?”

  • Establish a Routine
  • Create a Sleep-Conducive Environment
  • Sleep On a Comfortable Mattress and Pillows
  • Use Your Bedroom Only for Sleep and Sex
  • Finish Eating at Least 2-3 Hours Before Your Regular Bedtime
  • Exercise Regularly
  • Avoid Caffeine
  • Avoid Nicotine
  • Avoid Alcohol Close to Bedtime
  • Use a Sleep Diary and Talk to Your Doctor
  • Maintain a Regular Bed and Wake Time Schedule Including Weekends

Restless Leg syndrome (RLS), also known as nocturnal myoclonus, is a type of sleep disorder characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable desire to move the legs. These abnormal sensations usually occur in the lower legs shortly after going to bed. During the early stages of sleep, these episodes of leg movement often last up to an hour.

The abnormal sensations of RLS are quite variable. They have been described as a crawling, creeping, pulling, drawing, tingling, pins and needles, or prickly discomfort. They are not cramping in character. Sometimes these sensations occur in the feet, thighs or even arms. Although RLS is considered to be a sleep disorder, some people also experience these sensations during the day, particularly when lying down.

The most important feature of RLS is an overwhelming need to move the legs. Moving the legs provides temporary relief but the abnormal sensations start all over again and the cycle repeats itself.

Restless leg syndrome may affect as many as 12 million people in the United States.

Contact The Sleep Center of Nevada for a consultation. Our Sleep Team will work with you to diagnose your sleep issues as well as work with you on developing a personalized treatment program that best fits your needs!

Healthy Sleep Tips

Restless Leg Syndrome

Insomnia:

Insomniacs have problems either falling asleep or staying asleep. Specifically, they can exhibit: delayed sleep onset, frequent, prolonged arousals during the night, early morning awakenings or low quality sleep. Most people have experienced insomnia during temporary periods of stress in their life. This is termed acute or short-term insomnia and is usually resolved on its own. However, if the problem persists for more than four weeks, professional advice should be sought.

Are There Different Types of Insomnia?

An individual can exhibit either primary or secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is typically associated with stress and is not associated with other mental or medical problems. Secondary insomnia is the result of underlying problems such as anxiety, mood disorders or medical conditions such as restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea.

What Is the Most Common Cause of Insomnia?

Stress is the number one cause of insomnia. Under stress, it is more difficult to fall asleep. Occasionally, it can cause early morning awakenings. Insomnia might also be a symptomatic of an anxiety or mood disorder or even a symptom of a medical condition such as chronic pain or arthritis.

What Therapies Are Available to Treat Insomnia?

While sleep pills can be very effective for short-term insomnia, they are not recommended for a long-term sleep problem. For chronic insomnia, there is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) where patients learn to manage their own symptoms. This approach is generally more effective and the beneficial results tend to last longer.

Some Myths and Facts About Insomnia:

The Older You Get, the Fewer Hours of Sleep Required.

Experts recommend a range of seven to nine hours of sleep for the average adult. While sleep patterns change as we age, the amount of sleep needed generally does not. Older individuals may wake more frequently through the night and may actually get less nighttime sleep, but their sleep need is no less than that of younger adults.

Napping During the Day May Interfere with Nocturnal Sleep.

Brief, therapeutic naps that last 20 to 40 minutes and are scheduled at regular times as a daily routine can be useful in maintaining wakefulness after getting up in the morning.

If You Wake Up in the Middle of the Night, It is Best to Stay in Bed, Count Sheep or Toss and Turn until You Eventually Fall Asleep.

Waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep is a common symptom of insomnia. Various relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, or guided visual imagery may help induce sleep; such methods are more effective than counting sheep Whichever technique is used, most experts agree that if you cannot fall asleep with 15 to 20 minutes, then you should get out bed, go to another room and engage in some relaxing activity, perhaps listening to music or reading, for example. Return to bed only when you feel sleepy; and above all, avoid watching the clock!

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy (NAR-ko-lep-see) is a disorder that causes a person to have difficulty staying awake. Narcolepsy can cause a person to suddenly fall asleep during the day. These “sleep attacks” occur even after getting enough sleep at night. The unusual and unpredictable sleep pattern that people with narcolepsy have can affect their schooling, work, and social life.

The symptoms of narcolepsy can appear all at once, or they can develop slowly over many years. The four most common symptoms are: excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, which is a sudden, brief loss of muscle control triggered by stress or strong emotion, sleep paralysis, and hypnagogic hallucinations, which are vivid, dream-like experiences that are difficult to distinguish from reality and occur at sleep onset or after awakening.

Narcolepsy is usually diagnosed by a medical history and an overnight sleep study. The next day following a sleep study, a multiple sleep latency test will also be done to determine daytime sleepiness.

Narcolepsy cannot be cured, but its symptoms can usually be controlled so that a person with narcolepsy can lead a normal life. Each treatment plan usually involves medication, life-style changes, and education.