Trouble Sleeping and Sleep Apnea

Daytime sleepiness. Is it abnormal? What does it mean?

The most common cause of excessive daytime sleepiness is inadequate sleep. Most adults need about 7-8 hrs of continuous sleep to be refreshed. It is common to feel sleepy in the afternoon in the post lunch hour, but sleepiness in the morning or during activity is abnormal. Sleepiness despite 8 hours of regular sleep may be due to a sleep disturbing disorder like sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or other medical disorders.

People who suffer with sleep apnea can have snoring, episodes of breathing pauses and or choking or gasping for breath which are caused by narrowing of the air passages decreasing or stopping air into the lungs.

Narcolepsy is a chemical imbalance in the brain causing sleepiness during the day and disturbed sleep at night.

What is sleep hygiene and why is it important?

Sleep hygiene refers to the routines you establish before going to bed and the hours that you sleep. Proper or improper sleep hygiene can have a large impact on the quality of your sleep.

Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Drinking caffeine or alcohol before going to sleep interrupts REM sleep, which does not leave you properly rested when you wake. Caffiene also has a 6 hour half life, which means that if you drink caffeine, 6 hours later there is still half in your system.
  • You should establish standard routines to help you relax and prepare for bed like stretching, reading or a favorite TV show. A routine will signal your mind and body to begin preparing for rest.
  • You should try to sleep between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. every night plus 2 more hours before or after depending on your individual sleep requirements. These are core sleeping hours and you will get your best rest by making sure to include them.
  • Try to sleep in a quiet room, without music, television or noise makers. Background niose can keep you from getting deep, quality sleep. If those devices help you fall asleep, then use one with a sleep timer so that it automatically turns off after a certain period of time, after you have fallen asleep.
  • Try not to fall asleep in one location, such as on the couch, and then move to the bedroom. Uninterrupted sleep is best.
    Establishing good, healthy sleep hygiene can have a significant impact on daily your life.
    • Sleepiness and driving. Is this a serious problem?

      Driving while sleepy is as dangerous as drinking and driving. You should do the following in order to avoid sleepiness during driving:

      • Get a good night sleep before that long road tip.
      • Take frequent breaks and stretch your legs (this will also help prevent blood clots in legs).
      • Low doses of caffeine taken continuously can help you stay awake.
      • Drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated
      • If overpowering need to sleeps occurs, pullover and take a short nap.
      • Avoid driving during your regular bedtime hours.

      Can children have sleep apnea?

      Yes, children can have snoring and difficulty breathing during sleep. This could be seen by an observer as snoring, labored breathing with rib retractions (pulled inwards) or sleeping in unusual positions (head hanging off the side of the bed, nose up in air in a sniff position). Breathing during wakefulness is normal.

      What type of problems can children develop due to sleep apnea?

      Children can have developmental delays, poor performance in school, attention deficit hyperactivity, and aggressive behavior due to poor sleep quality. Children can also develop high blood pressure and heart failure if severe untreated sleep apnea continues untreated.

      How can sleep apnea be diagnosed in children and how is it treated?

      At present, a sleep study in a sleep laboratory is the best choice. Removal of adenoids and tonsils, if enlarged, is 80 – 90% curative in children. Some children may need additional forms of therapy.

      How much sleep is enough sleep?

      The amount of sleep the one needs to feel well rested is enough sleep. There are individual variations of amount of sleep and sleep loss that a person can tolerate

      Average duration of sleep for different ages is:

      • Newborn (0-2 mths) 16 – 20 hrs;
      • Infant (2 -12 mths) 9- 12 hrs with 2- 4 hrs as naps;
      • Toddlers (12 mths – 3yrs) 12- 13 hrs;
      • Preschool (3- 5yrs) 11-12 hrs;
      • School age (6 – 11 yrs) 10-11hrs;
      • Adolescent (13- 18 yrs) 9- 9.5 hrs

      Does alcohol help you sleep?

      Alcohol helps a tense person fall asleep fast, but causes you to awaken in the early morning hours.

      The sleep that one does get is of poor quality and is unrestful. In a person that suffers with untreated sleep apnea, alcohol will worsen sleep apnea and, can result in respiratory arrest.

      I am having difficulty falling asleep? What are some simple things that can be done to help me fall asleep?

      • Regular bedtime and awakening time helps to regulate the body sleep clock.
      • Steady daily excersice is helpful but avoid strenuous exercise 2-3 hrs before bedtime
      • Use the bed for sleeping and sex only, watching TV in bed and reading while in bed can cause your brain to form negative associations and prevent falling asleep easily.
      • An excessively warm room disturbs sleep.
      • Caffeine in the evening disturbs sleep even in a person who doesn’t feel it does.
      • A quiet, dark room is more conducive to sleep.

      Sleep related acid reflux. What are some symptoms? What are some simple measures that can help?

      A few signs of acid reflux are awakening several times during the night with heartburn or indigestion, sour taste in the mouth, water brash, coughing, and frequent burping.

      Things you can do to help are:

      • Sleep on your left side if possible.
      • Use a wedge to raise the upper body or elevating the head of the bed by 6 inches will have a similar effect.
      • Eat you last meal at least 2 hrs prior to bedtime.
      • Abstain from foods like caffeine, chocolate, mint, alcohol, high fat foods, tomato and citrus.
      • Limit intake of carbonated beverages.
      • Smoking cessation.
      • Certain medications can also contribute to acid reflux – talk to your doctor.

      Restless legs syndrome. What are some symptoms and non prescription therapies?

      A person who has Restless Leg Syndrome may have unusual sensations like a creepy-crawly or burning sensation in the arms or legs; an irresistible urge to move; relief of sensations with movement (such as marching, shaking, walking or massaging). Most of these symptoms seem to worsen in the evening or at night. Reducing caffeine and alcohol will help while vitamins do not typically help. Low iron levels can cause restless legs. There are prescription medications which are available for treatment and are fairly effective.