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02/Aug/2019

Enemies of Sleep

Countless clinical studies have been published over the years, stressing the importance of a good night’s sleep. We all know the cornerstone of good physical and mental health is sleep: consistent, deep and restful sleep. Right?? Then why do so many of us fail at the basic tenet of getting that good night’s sleep? Our busy and hectic lives are not a good excuse for ignoring the obvious importance of sleep.

A bad habit or two can seriously affect our ability to sleep well and wake up every morning refreshed and ready to go. These bad habits are what I consider the “enemies of sleep”.

Here are the top 5:

  1. Cell phones. Simple: keep them turned off or out of the bedroom at night. Smartphones represent countless distractions in the form of text messages, emails, social media and the Internet. Waking up throughout the night (even for a minute) to check a text disrupts your sleep patterns and the overall quality of your sleep. Additionally the light from the screens of our portable devices has been proven to have a detrimental affect on our ability to initiate and maintain sleep (see #3). Turn it off, whatever is there will be there in the morning.
  2. Cut out the caffeine in the evening. Caffeine is everywhere: not only in coffee and tea, but also in chocolate, soft drinks and some drugs. Caffeine enters the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine and can have a stimulating effect as soon as 15 minutes after it is consumed. Once in the body, caffeine will persist for several hours: it takes about 6 hours for one half of the caffeine to be eliminated. I have heard the line many times, “I can drink coffee at night, it doesn’t bother me.”   Actually, it probably does bother you. Try going without it in the evening, I believe you will find you sleep much sounder.
  3. Electronic Screens. Blue wavelengths, or so called blue light, tell our circadian rhythm that it’s daytime. Cell phones, tablets, laptops, televisions, even strong clock lights, all emit bright light that can trick the brain into thinking it is daytime. Turn them all off, ideally one hour before bedtime.
  4. Drinking any beverage right before bedtime will result in waking you up in the middle of the night for a trip to the bathroom. Reduce or eliminate drinks before bedtime to prevent this.
  5. Lack of sleep schedule. Many of us like to stay up late on the weekends but do your best to get ready for bed at the same time every night. Routine, routine, routine.

 

Understand the enemies of sleep and take appropriate actions. As Sun Tzu wrote in his famous book, The Art of War:

Know thy self, know thy enemies. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.


02/Aug/2019

Traveling With Sleep Apnea and a CPAP Machine

Many obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients use their CPAPs nightly at home, but often ignore treatment while traveling. It can be difficult to pack a bulky CPAP machine and there may not be a reliable source of electricity while traveling.

Ignoring treatment while traveling is not a good idea because of the obvious health risks. In addition, untreated OSA, even for a few days, can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and lethargy. Who wants to feel exhausted during their vacation or in a long distance business meeting? With a little planning, you may be able to use a CPAP alternative during your travels.

What are the Best Options?

Provent nasal valves are a simple and easy solution. Provent fits on the nose like a band-aid, and creates back pressure to treat OSA. Provent, which requires a doctor’s prescription, is light weight and takes only seconds to apply. Provent doesn’t always work for everyone, but it may be a viable alternative for many. Provent is not covered by insurance and costs around $70 for a 30 day supply.

Oral appliances, which advance the jaw to treat OSA, can also be effective. Many patients with mild sleep apnea use oral devices to treat their sleep apnea rather than CPAP. Oral devices may not be 100% effective for moderate to severe sleep apnea, but it may be better than no treatment for the traveling patient.

For those who cannot live without their CPAP, several companies now offer lightweight CPAP machines. You will probably have to pay out of pocket for these machines, as most insurers will only pay for one CPAP machine per patient. Check out the Z2 CPAP machine which weighs less than 10 ounces and comes with an optional battery pack. Transcend also offers a lightweight CPAP machine with a battery pack. Check out the Z2 and the other travel CPAP machines.

Regardless of the treatment you choose, plan ahead as it may take several weeks to a month to figure out and receive the best treatment option. Don’t forget to consult your physician so he/she can help you determine what is best for you.


02/Aug/2019

Should I Buy a Used CPAP Machine?

In short, Don’t Use a Used CPAP Machine!

“My brother got a CPAP a few years ago. He stopped using it and gave it to me. Now I’m using it, although it doesn’t feel quite right.”

Over the years we have had too many patients tell us that they are using someone else’s CPAP machine. Many patients try to save money or “bypass the system” with used CPAP equipment given to them by a friend or purchased on Craigslist. Many of these patients never even bothered with a sleep study. This is simply not a good idea.

Many CPAP machines are calibrated with a fixed pressure, meaning they blow a steady, constant stream of air. This pressure is determined by a sleep study and a medical exam by a doctor. This way the amount of air pressure delivered through the CPAP device is customized to each patients’ needs. Too much pressure can create discomfort and a bloated stomach full of air. In addition, too much air pressure can create central sleep apneas, which can be very dangerous (I will write a blog covering central sleep apnea in the future). Too little pressure, and the CPAP is ineffective and sleep apnea and snoring will persist.

Used CPAP masks and tubing are a definite no.

Besides the obvious sanitary concerns, each mask must be carefully fitted and sized to the patient’s face. If a mask does not fit properly, air leaks will occur and the CPAP machine will not be effective.

CPAP machines are considered Class II medical devices by the FDA and therefore require a prescription by a licensed MD. It is therefore illegal to buy or sell these devices without a valid prescription.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t pinch pennies where your health is concerned. Work with a qualified doctor and get sound advice and expertise to treat your sleep apnea properly. Get a valid sleep test to determine how mild, moderate or severe your sleep apnea is. Obtain new CPAP equipment that is calibrated and fitted just for you. You will feel a lot better!


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Sunset Sleep Disorders Center has been diagnosing and treating patients with sleep disorders since 2004. We have sleep centers throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties and are contracted with all major medical insurances including Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Medicare.

Sunset Sleep Labs, LLC
Corporate Office
2796 Sycamore Drive, Suite 103
Simi Valley, California 93065
Tel: 805.582.0999
Fax: 805.582.0919
email: info@sunsetlseep.com

Office Hours:
8:30am-5pm Monday thru Friday

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