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Sleep Apnea, Sleep disorder

Learn about Sleep Disorder

Many medical conditions may lead to a disruption of sleep, or an excessive amount of daytime sleepiness, and are called sleep disorders. The common sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, etc. Consult a sleep specialist should you suspect yourself having sleep disorder.

Snoring: a real nuisance

Darling, you’re snoring again! Who has never been disturbed by a snorer?

As a rule, we snore when we breathe in, but snoring can also occur when we breathe out, or even during both of the respiratory phases. Between 60 and 100 dB, snoring is as loud as a lively conversation, or even a vacuum cleaner or a lawn mower.

But why do we snore? It is a matter of poor “plumbing”. Our anatomical make-up or obstacles in the throat can inhibit the flow of air and make a noise.

There is a clear hereditary aspect, and other factors such as obesity, smoking, drinking, certain drugs or just extreme tiredness can all contribute to snoring. Finally, we are more likely to snore if we sleep on our back.

Snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, but only specialised doctors are qualified to draw any conclusions. CPAP treatment usually cures snoring.

The right kind of afternoon nap

Afternoon naps: necessity or luxury?

Regular afternoon nappers know how to choose the type of nap that best suits them. Remember that sleep must remain a source of pleasure!

Flash naps last less than 5 minutes and are not really sleep, but  a moment of total relaxation that take us to the frontiers of consciousness. With the right relaxation techniques and a little practice, it is quite possible to take a flash nap on public transport or at the office. They help to stimulate the memory and better adapt to restrictive environments.

“Power” naps last between 10 and 20 minutes and are very effective, which is why they are so popular! Taking a power nap in the early afternoon will not prevent you from falling to sleep in the evening. They are a form of light sleep that provides an opportunity to recharge your physical and intellectual batteries. Ideally, drink a cup of coffee just before nodding off, before the caffeine has time to kick in!

“Sleep cycle” naps are more common at the weekend. Lasting about 90 minutes, a sleep cycle nap includes all the forms of sleep (light, deep and REM sleep) and is a good way to recover from the fatigue accumulated during the week. If taken in the early afternoon, it is far more beneficial than a morning lie-in, provided that you force yourself to get up as soon as you wake up.

Monitoring my CPAP

You can treat your sleep apnea by CPAP. You now have your machine and your mask at home.

First, remember that your machine will record the length of time you wear your mask and the rhythm of your breathing, if you continue to suffer from apnea when asleep, night after night. Your technician can then provide valuable input for your doctor.

Doctors usually propose an appointment to observe how you are getting on, and in particular to make sure you can tolerate the CPAP. But they will also check whether the symptoms have been reduced and whether you still suffer from drowsiness during the day. The treatment can also improve your blood pressure.

You will then see your doctor less frequently. If everything goes according to plan, one appointment per year is usually sufficient.

If you are unsure of the efficiency of the CPAP, the oxygen level in the blood at night can be measured at home, or recordings (respiratory polysomnography or ventilatory polygraphs) can be taken during the treatment. These measures can be used to check whether the number of apneas has decreased and/or to diagnose an underlying sleep disorder (restless leg syndrome, hypersomnia, etc.).

The Golden Rules of Sleep

Learn to understand your needs for sleep. How long? At what time? This is specific to you and you alone. Learn to listen to your body and understand it.

  • Drooping eyelids, yawning, shivers, stinging eyes ... It's time to go to bed. Don't try to fight tiredness. 
  • Avoid exercise and hot baths just before going to bed. A  rise in body temperature is not conducive to sleep. 
  • Avoid stimulants in the evening: coffee, tea, vitamin C, caffeinated sodas, cigarettes, etc. Also, avoid loud music and bright lights. 
  • Avoid large evening meals that are overly rich in fat and proteins, as well as excessive consumption of alcohol. 
  • Routine! To stay in good shape, keep regular sleeping hours, in the evening and especially in the morning. Follow a routine of activities before going to bed. Rituals help you to fall asleep more quickly. 
  • Reorganise your bedroom so that it is welcoming, relaxing and cosy. Invest in a good bed. Cool down your bedroom in the evening, air the room before going to bed and switch off the heating at night. The ideal temperature for a good sleep is 18-20° . 
  • Wake up gently in the morning Take the time to stretch, do not get up too quickly. 

My Heart and My Vessels

Everyone is familiar with the risks to the heart: cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, excess weight, lack of exercise, stress and ... sleep apnea!

They all increase the risk of heart attack, stroke (hemiplegia) or arteriopathy 
Little is known about the mechanisms that link apnea and cardiovascular affections, but it is clear that apnea is conducive to the formation of atheroma in the vessels, i.e. of deposits that gradually block them. Furthermore, the drop in the oxygen content in the blood that accompanies each episode of apnea results in a faster heart beat and a rise in blood pressure. 

If several hundred episodes of apnea occur each night, the heart has to work too hard and cannot rest. 
It is a known fact that 80% of patients with high blood pressure, that cannot be controlled despite taking one or more medicaments, also suffer from apnea. Treating sleep apnea can bring your blood pressure down! 
Sufferers of sleep apnea are often also obese, diabetic or have a high cholesterol count. Losing weight, if only a little, can only be beneficial! 
CPAP treatment will protect you against excessive risk of cardiovascular disease.