All Posts Tagged: sleep

10 Myths About Sleep

Adults sometimes like to brag about how little sleep they get when working on a project or pulling an all-nighter. Instead of congratulating them, it might be best to double check their work. Research by Robbins and her colleagues combed through 8,000 websites to discover what we thought we knew about healthy sleep habits and then presented those beliefs to a hand-picked team of sleep medicine experts. They determined which were myths and then ranked them by degree of falsehood and importance to health.

We sleep about 1/3rd of our lives and science still can’t find a reason why we do. It’s such a fascinating cascade of chemistry, feedback loops and brain activity that still baffles science. There are still mysteries that our Creator uses to prove this stuff couldn’t just evolve. Sleep is one of those mysteries.

Look through these 10 false myths and see which ones you might want to change in your routine…

1. Adults need five or fewer hours of sleep.

“If you wanted to have the ability to function at your best during the day, resist illness better, be mentally strong, how many hours do you have to sleep?” This was the question asked by the senior study investigator Girardin Jean-Louis, a professor in the Department of Population Health and sleep research. The articles suggest 7-10 hours is optimal. There is a lot of research showing that less than 5 hours of sleep per night increases our risks for stroke, heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, and fatal car accidents or work accidents.

Other symptoms that can develop with chronic sleep deprivation include; a weakened immune system, weight gain, a lack of libido, mood swings, paranoia, depression and a higher risk of dementia and some cancers.

2. It’s healthy to be able to fall asleep ‘anywhere, anytime’.

Falling asleep as soon as the car/train/airplane starts moving is not a sign of a well-rested person, sleep experts say. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

“Falling asleep instantly anywhere, anytime, is a sign that you are not getting enough sleep and you’re falling into ‘micro sleeps’ or ‘mini-sleep episodes’. It suggests your body is so exhausted that whenever it has a moment, it’s going to start to repay its sleep debt.”

You feel sleepy because of a buildup of a chemical called adenosine in the brain, which happens throughout the day. Sleeping soundly reduces that chemical (in some of the sleep stages that are disturbed in Sleep Apnea) so that when you wake up, the levels are at their lowest, and you feel refreshed. The longer you stay up at night, the less sleep you get and adenosine levels rise, creating what’s called a sleep debt.

Want to check your level of sleepiness? Take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and if you’re worried, check in with a sleep doctor who can do more extensive testing in a sleep lab.

3. Your brain and body can adapt to less sleep.

People also believed that the brain and body could adapt and learn to function optimally with less sleep. That too is a myth, experts say. That’s because your body cycles through four distinct phases of sleep to fully restore itself.

Stage one is a light sleep and you are awakened easily. Your brain begins to send signals to disengage you from awaking in stage two, where you will spend most of your total sleep time. Stages three and four contain the deepest, most restorative sleep and the dreamy state of REM, or rapid eye movement sleep. Sleep Apnea and other medical conditions can prevent you from getting into REM (dream sleep) sleep.

“During REM, the brain is highly reactive,” Robbins said. “It almost looks like your brain is awake if we hook you up to two more electrodes and were able to monitor your brain waves.”

REM can occur any time during the sleep cycle, but on average, it starts about 90 minutes after you’ve fallen asleep. REM is when your body and brain are busy storing memories, regulating mood and learning. It’s also when you dream. Your muscles are temporarily paralyzed during REM sleep except for the heart, diaphragm, mouth, and ears, so you can’t act out your dreams and can be awoken if danger approaches.

Some people have night terrors – a sudden awaking where you feel “paralyzed” and unable to speak or move for a moment; this sudden waking from REM sleep is the reason. It takes a second or so for the brain to secrete the chemicals that “re-connect” the brain to the spinal cord and get signals to the motor muscles of the body.  

With normal sleep, you’ll go through several REM cycles, which take up about 25% of your total sleeping time. Typically the “last dream” of the night will be what’s remembered.

Stage 3 sleep, or “deep sleep”, our brain waves slow into what is called delta waves or slow-wave sleep. It’s the time when human growth hormone is released and memories are further processed. “The deeper stages of sleep are really important for generation of neurons, repairing muscle and restoring the immune system,” the author states.

4. Snoring, although annoying, is mostly harmless.

In your dreams, maybe. In fact, “loud, raucous snores interrupted by pauses in breathing” is a marker for sleep apnea, a dangerous sleep disorder that, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, increases risk for heart attacks, atrial fibrillation, asthma, high blood pressure, glaucoma, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and cognitive and behavior disorders.

Using a CPAP machine or a Dental Sleep Appliance

“Sleep apnea doesn’t allow restful stages of sleep for the skeletal system or brain. Patients may sleep many hours but don’t get the proper sleep stages needed for restoration of the brain and body.

You wake up over and over; then they are fighting sleep all day long because they’re so exhausted. We believe it affects about 30% – 40% of the population, and around 10% are diagnosed.”

Children can have sleep apnea from allergies, enlarged tonsils or adenoids or imbalanced jaw growth that is a side effect of mouth breathing. If a child snores even one night per week, is hard to get them asleep or very hard to wake them in the morning, that is possibly a sign of sleep apnea. In children, it will affect the brain development and growth of the face, bite, and TMJ.

5. Drinking alcohol before bed helps you fall asleep.

Do you think a nightcap before bed will help you fall asleep and stay asleep? Dream on.

Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but that’s where the benefits end, the author states. Instead, it traps you in the lighter stages of sleep and “dramatically reduces the quality of your rest at night.” Metabolism of the alcohol continues to pull you out of rapid eye movement and the deeper stages of sleep where you get the feeling of a “good night’s sleep”.

6. Not sleeping? Stay in bed with eyes closed and try and try.

You have to admit, it makes sense: How can you fall asleep if you’re not in bed trying? Yet sleep experts say that continuing to count sheep for more than 15 minutes isn’t the smartest move.

Grinding and Clinching Teeth at night

“If we stay in bed, we’ll start to associate the bed with insomnia,” Robbins said. She equates it to “going to the gym and standing on a treadmill and not doing anything.”

In reality, Robbins said, it takes a healthy sleeper about 15 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re tossing and turning much longer than that, you should get out of bed, change the environment and do something mindless: “Keep the lights low and fold socks,” she suggested.

Some people also believe that it’s just as refreshing to your body to lie in bed with eyes closed but not sleeping. Nope. That’s another pipe dream, experts say.

7. It doesn’t matter what time of day you sleep.

Sleep experts say that’s another myth that can negatively affect your health.

“We recommend that people have a regular sleep schedule because it controls what we call the biological clock, or circadian rhythm, of the body,” Jean-Louis said. “That controls all the hormones of the body, body temperature, eating and digestion, and sleep-wake cycles.”

When your inner clock and the outside world are out of phase, you can feel disoriented, mentally foggy and sleepy at times when you need to be functioning at optimal levels. Just think of what happens when you travel across time zones or when daylight savings time kicks in.

Studies of shift workers, who work unusual hours and live out of sync with their normal biological rhythm, show that they are at increased risk for heart disease, ulcers, depression, obesity and certain cancers, as well as a higher rate of workplace accidents and injuries due to a slower reaction rate and poor decision-making.

8. Watching TV in bed helps you relax.

Come on, we all do it — or we check our laptop or smartphone before we power down for the night. Not so.

“These devices emit bright blue light, and that blue light signals the pineal gland that it’s time to become alive and alert in the morning, because it is the nearly morning “color of light”. “

According to the National Sleep Foundation, blue light affects the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone, more than any other wavelength of light. Watching TV or using an electronic device within two hours of bedtime means it will take you longer to fall asleep, you’ll have less dream state or REM sleep, and even if you do sleep eight or more hours, you’ll wake feeling groggy.

If you or your children can’t make that two-hour cutoff because of homework or late-night work demands, experts suggest dimming the brightness of the screen or installing an app that can warm the screen to the sunset colors. Red and yellow have higher wavelengths and don’t affect melatonin.

9. Hitting snooze is great! No need to get up right away.

Raise your hand if you hit the snooze button. Why not, right?

“Resist the temptation to snooze, because unfortunately, your body will go back to sleep — a very light, low-quality sleep,” says the author.

As you near the end of your sleep, your body is probably nearing the end of its last REM cycle. Hit that snooze button, and the brain falls right back into a new REM cycle. Now, when the alarm goes off a few minutes later, you’ll be in the middle, not the end, of that cycle, and you’ll wake up groggy and stay that way longer.

10. Remembering your dreams is a sign of good sleep.

“That’s a myth, because all of us do experience dreams four to five times a night, IF we are sleeping properly and going thought the full range of sleep stages” Jean-Louis said. “And we don’t remember because we’ve not woken up and disrupted our sleep.”

study out of France showed that people who frequently remember their dreams have higher brain activity in the information-processing hub of the brains. They also woke twice as often during the night and were more sensitive to sounds when sleeping and awake. This heightened “awakens” could be suggestive of obstructive sleep apnea or a Sleep Disorder typical of middle aged women called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome. The airway becomes hyper-sensitive to narrowing in deeper sleep and will trigger a subtle awaking throughout the night, often associated with clenching/grinding of your teeth. This repeated TMJ loading is frequently one of the triggers for TMJ disorders.

“Now, I will tell you if you have a dream with a strong emotional context, it may come back to you at say, two o’clock in the afternoon, when you have some downtime to relax,” Jean-Louis said. “Sometimes, something would trigger that. But if it is a weird little mundane dream, most of us who sleep well don’t remember those.”

MORE MYTHS

The research team found more myths that we tend to accept as fact, Jean-Louis said, such as “more sleep is always better” (no, you really can sleep too much and harm your health), “taking a nap in the afternoon can fix insomnia” (actually, if you sleep long enough to enter a REM or deep sleep cycle, it can mess up your body clock even more), and “it’s better to have a warm than cool bedroom” (no, you sleep better in cooler temps).

Which means that we could all use a bit of education about good sleep hygiene, a set of habits to form that will set you up for a lifetime of healthy sleep. The National Sleep Foundation has tips, as does our website at WWW. TMJSLEEPSOLUTIONS.COM.

10 Myths About Sleep, By Sandee LaMotte, CNN, Updated 2:06 PM ET, Wed April 17, 2019.https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/16/health/sleep-myths-facts-study/index.html

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Why might I need a sleep study and how do I get one?

A sleep study would be indicated by consistent snoring, feeling unrested after a night’s sleep (frequently), clenching or grinding of the teeth (indicates a high probability of a sleep breathing disorder), or repeated waking throughout the night. Any treatment a Dentist might provide to diagnose or treat a sleep breathing problem, needs the patient’s physician to manage the process by written permission to the dentist.

If someone witnesses or hears you “stop breathing” or gasping, snorting, jerking awake, it’s almost certain that you have Sleep Apnea. There are several ways to evaluate if you have, or the severity of, a sleep-breathing disorder.

PSG: Polysomnogram:

A very sophisticated evaluation of your entire physiologic and neurologic system during sleep. This is important in cases where patients may have several health conditions that might be related to or affected by Sleep Apnea. It’s the best diagnostic test.

Home Sleep Test:

A much simpler evaluation of basic parameters of Sleep Apnea in healthier patients. It can measure heart rate, breathing pauses, oxygen saturation, some can assess basic brain waves too. These are often used to evaluate the effectiveness of Dental Sleep Appliances after the initial Sleep Evaluation was done.

Pulse Oximetry:

Basically, a medical-grade “Fit Bit” with better accuracy. Not often used and doesn’t pick up much data.

If you mention snoring or fatigue to your Physician, they may not suggest having a sleep study. A dentist trained in TMJ or Dental Sleep Medicine can identify oral and other facial features, historical information and 3D imaging evaluations that would strongly suggest the need for a sleep study.

A sleep study must be ordered by a Physician because of the wide-ranging medical problems that Sleep Apnea can directly cause or contribute to such as:

  1. Hypertension
  2. A-Fib
  3. Heart Attack Risk Factor
  4. Stroke
  5. Frequent Urination Overnight
  6. Clenching/Grinding of Teeth
  7. TMJ Damage from Clenching/Grinding
  8. Neck Pain or Stiffness
  9. Nighttime Headaches/Migraines
  10. Feeling of Fatigue Despite Sleeping 7-8 Hours

A simple “pulse oximetry” test, or information from your “Fit Bit”, may miss critical information that could identify some of these risks based on your medical history and exam by your physician. Most of these conditions are out of the scope, licensure, and experience of Dentist’s to evaluate.

Over my years, we have seen patients who had heart conditions, blood pressure spikes (stroke risk) during sleep that weren’t picked up in their normal medical visits.

For a dentist to provide a Sleep Study, we must contact the Physician and get a written order to dispense a home unit or pulse ox. Dentist’s aren’t legally permitted to diagnose or test for, fabricate a “Snoring” or “Sleep Apnea” appliance without a written prescription from the patient’s Physician or Sleep Physician, which we always obtain.

Snoring IS a form of sleep disorder and must be approached as such.

In our practice, we have different sleep study devices that can be used to assess for the presence of a sleep breathing disorder or assess the success of a Dental Sleep Appliance in treating Sleep Apnea, snoring or other sleep-breathing problems involving oral appliances.

I always notify the patient’s Physician and discuss my findings that would suggest evaluation of a sleep breathing condition. The Physician makes the decision on the type of study that is done.

We work with many physicians and can provide fast, easy, home screenings with physicians written RX of patients we see to for TMJ or facial pain conditions, if indicated.

Contact us today for more information.

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Dehydration, Nighttime Urination, Bedwetting and How It Relates to Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Dehydrated? Get more sleep….Tired? Drink more water….it’s all connected.

This article reviews what we already know about proper sleep time and quality: if your sleep is disrupted it affects our entire body chemistry. Kidney function is also impacted by Sleep Apnea and other sleep breathing problems.

Proper length and depth of sleep is known to affect judgment, executive functioning, attention, mood, as well as a significantly affect our heart health, blood pressure, and increases risk for type 2 diabetes.

It’s been known for decades that children who bed-wet and adults who need to urinate 2-3 times at night likely have Sleep Apnea or one of a couple sleep-breathing problems.

Rosinger & colleagues analyzed 2 large database studies from China, looking at over 20,000 healthy young adults. Sleeping (16-59% more likely) less than 6 hours was correlated with dehydration by symptoms (thirsty) and measuring urine concentration and amount.

What’s the relationship?

Disturbed or shortened sleep disrupts the release of vasopressin, a hormone released at night when sleep quality and duration is normal. This hormone is released later in the sleep cycle in greater quantities and with increasing frequency the longer you sleep. WHY???? Without vasopressin, our kidneys would continue to “fill” throughout the night, causing us to wake up and urinate 2-3 times over a normal 8-hour sleep period. Vasopressin is released throughout the lateral stages of sleep and, with increasing release later in the sleep cycle. This makes sense…if you’re sleeping a “normal” 8 hours and entering all the stages of sleep such as REM and Stage lll, the body releases Vasopressin in those deeper sleep stages to slow the kidneys from filling up and causing you to wake up, go to the bathroom and, have to go back through the sleep stages…it’s disruptive to the body/brain repair sequence as we sleep.

Children with enlarged adenoids and tonsils can’t breathe well in deep sleep, so the body makes them restless and deprives their brain of REM sleep…all the while allowing their kidneys to fill. The result: bedwetting.

Adults who snore, have sleep apnea or women with sleep anxiety or frequent waking also don’t release as much Vasopressin, causing us to wake 2-3 times to urinate. Typically the 1st waking is just after midnight…

By morning, the body has dehydrated itself by the continued water loss and can cause long term dehydration symptoms such as muscle weakness, headaches, fatigue (similar symptoms as sleep apnea contribute to)…

Amazing how our physiology is so intricately designed!

Sleep Deprivation May Cause Dehydration

Published Wednesday 7 November 2018,  

Medical News Today

By Ana Sandoiu

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The Impact of Cell Usage on College Kids

Research shows that use of electronics pre-bedtime can affect sleep. A recent study of college students’ use of Cell Phones after “lights out” was shown to definitively contribute to sleep disturbances and mental distress.

This was a large, significant group of almost 4,400 college students self-reporting cell phone use and specifically, use in bed after “lights out”. The pre-post testing took place over 8 months and measured many variables. Excessive cell phone use was defined as 4 hours per day or above.

To most of us, this does not seem excessive, but it was considered excessive in this research. Excessive cell phone use was positively associated with sleep disturbances and mental distress scores at follow up (8 months…a great long-term study).

They also looked at the results when the students stopped using the phones after lights out, the symptoms declined back towards baseline measures of normal sleep and distress…that’s good news!

84% of students (college) used their phones every day (4+ hours) and compared it to adolescents (junior high) excessive use (2+ hours/day).

The study also compared the effects of Melatonin secretion (great study) when the cell phone was used pre-bedtime VS after “lights out”.  Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted as the sun goes down and helps “ready” the body for sleep. Use of the cell phone pre-bedtime decreased the initial amount of melatonin secretion, but it “caught up” over the night….it was delayed and slowed…which would disturb sleep onset and perhaps initial quality of sleep. After lights out there were EEG changes and delayed melatonin secretion.

Of interest, they also commented on texting VS talking. If conversations are emotional, thoughtful, or considerable they contribute to insomnia because of the release of emotional hormones. Text doesn’t require the sender or receiver to be ready for the communication, and a response may be well after the sender’s “purpose” has been forgotten. That could re-engage or excite hormonal release. Texting is far more common than talking for “convenience” and (my opinion) doesn’t require as much emotional engagement with all topics.

Overall, this was interesting in that Text messaging after “lights out” had a negative and statistical effect on sleep quality, duration, anxiety, insomnia.

Take Away: put the phones in another room pre-bedtime and leave them there until morning. Your brain will thank you for it!!

Sleep Research Society. The associations of long term mobile phone use with sleep disturbances and mental distress in technical college students: prospective cohort study. Published in SLEEP, zsy213

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You, The Well-Informed Parent: Advocate for Your Children and Teens!

In my last post, it was my intention to pay attention to how your children are sleeping (or not). If YOU are awake much of the night…perhaps you need a screening for a sleep breathing disorder!

A variety of symptoms can present when children/teens don’t get the proper quantity and quality of sleep regularly. Children and teens will typically present with nighttime symptoms of bedwetting, restless sleep (kicking and banging around) or are twisted in the sheets when you go in to wake them. Hyperactivity, trouble focusing on quiet tasks, impaired growth, avoiding dry, chunky, or more difficult to swallow foods may also present.

The lack of parasympathetic sleep (restful and restorative- think “rest and digest” for parasympathetic) has an immediate and long-lasting effect if deep sleep is impaired. Early in growth it is typically the consequence of enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils. It can also be related to being “tongue tied’. This will also affect the types of foods your children will trend away from; dry foods, hard to chew foods. They may swallow without a closed lip seal or “smack” when eating. Myofunctional therapists and speech therapists trained in MFT can evaluate this condition and, once the frenum is released and airway cleared, begin to retrain the brain improper tongue positioning, speech, swallowing, etc.

If the airway isn’t cleared or isn’t developing properly due to those effects, it can be very difficult to “re-train proper swallowing or speech” until the physical barriers are dealt with.

Orthodontic treatment for under-development of the maxilla (upper jaw) may be needed to get the maxilla back towards normal size to allow the tongue and airway to properly function.

Clinical evaluation as well as radiographic of the airway, jaw growth and size, deep tonsils and adenoids and proper nasal/ maxillary growth can clearly show the physicians the medical necessity they are required to provide that “justifies” tonsil/adenoid removal.

As I tell my patients, nothing can stand in the way of a well-informed parent when advocating for their child’s wellbeing.

A list (downloadable PDF) of common signs and symptoms and visuals that parents can look for that will suggest your child or teen has an airway problem are located on our website under the Sleep Breathing Disorders tab.

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A Note From The Experts of TMJ/Craniofacial Pain

I attended the annual conference of the leading TMJ/Craniofacial pain organization this past month in which I hold a Fellowship status (AACP). After hours, I was able to spend more time with friends and mentors, often we learn as much sharing ideas and techniques as in the actual conference.

There is an increasing awareness and focus on the importance of proper nasal breathing, management of sleep disordered breathing problems such as Sleep Apnea, subtler Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (typically in women who have poor sleep and excess fatigue without snoring or obvious apnea) and sleep breathing signs/symptoms and effects on growing children that are often missed. I am Board Certified in Dental Sleep Medicine by the American Academy of Craniofacial Dental Sleep Medicine.

Later this summer, I’ll be attending a similar conference with another organization I hold a Mastership status in (ICCMO) and look forward to spending time with those colleagues, many of which are the same experts.

I look forward to expanding my knowledge base, clinical tips and techniques, and comparing notes with my friends who are also leaders in the field of TMJ and Dental Sleep Medicine.

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Waking the Dead (and grumpy): Teenagers and Sleep

Why is it that getting our teenagers up and going is sometimes such a battle?

We nag them to get up, they want to sleep longer

We’re in a hurry- they can’t seem to get out of bed

They stay up too late…

Actually, it’s not totally their fault.  As kids enter teenage years their circadian rhythm, as well as the rest of their physiology, begins to change. All parents know that for sure! Teens are known for staying up late and sleeping in. During teenage years, melatonin’s release (the sleep hormone) is delayed. Teenagers start getting sleepy (melatonin release) around 11pm and need more time to fall asleep.  8-10 hours of sleep is ideal for teens according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. They need to sleep until around 7:30 AM.

There is a growing pressure on school systems to change school start times based on research in the sleep literature. It’s being met with resistance because of our work schedules, after school programs/sports and parent’s time schedules. It’s a clash between physiology and a society that has, for decades been on a schedule that seems to have trended earlier over the decades.

According to an article in this month’s American Academy of Sleep Medicine journal:

Short sleep in adolescents is associated with poor school performance, obesity, metabolic dysfunction and cardiovascular morbidity, increased depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, risk-taking behaviors, athletic injuries, and increased motor vehicle accident risk.917 Increased motor vehicle accident risk is particularly concerning because young, novice drivers have a higher crash risk when sleep deprived, and motor vehicle crashes account for 35% of all deaths and 73% of deaths from unintentional injury in teenagers.1820

Importantly, a delay in school start time has beneficial impacts on teenage students. Studies show that implementation of later school start times for adolescents is associated with longer total sleep time, reduced daytime sleepiness, increased engagement in classroom activities, and reduced first-hour tardiness and absences.7,2123 Delayed school start times also are associated with reduced depressive symptoms and irritability.21,22 Reaction time improves, and crash rates decline by 16.5%, following a school start time delay of 60 minutes.12,13 Extension of sleep time also facilitates behavioral weight loss interventions in adolescents.24.

There isn’t an easy solution to this clash between physiology and society’s needs. But recognizing it can take some of the stress off families. Let the kids schedule relax on the weekends for sleep, talk to them about “sleepy driving” and remaining alert. Perhaps a nap after school would help some of them. If they seem overly tired, they should be screened by a qualified Dentist in sleep/breathing disorders for airway obstructions and altered craniofacial growth that may be a contributing factor.

Read more about sleep disorders in kids here. 

Citation: Watson NF, Martin JL, Wise MS, Carden KA, Kirsch DB, Kristo DA, Malhotra RK, Olson EJ, Ramar K, Rosen IM, Rowley JA, Weaver TE, Chervin RD. Delaying middle school and high school start times promotes student health and performance: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine position statement. J Clin Sleep Med. 2017;13(4):623–625.

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A Good Night’s Sleep

Walking through the airport I saw a cover of Consumer Reports regarding how to sleep better.

It reviewed all types of mattresses, pillows, sleep positions, etc. suggesting that this is the primary cause of poor sleep. Not most likely.

While discomfort in your neck, back, or hips can disturb your sleep, the PRIMARY cause of sleep issues in America today is BREATHING. You’re not breathing well. Sleep Apnea, Upper Airway Resistance, Reactive Airway conditions are the most likely culprits robbing you of restful, restorative sleep.

If you have neck, back, shoulder or spinal disease or pain, the pressure and position you sleep in can cause progressive pressure on discs and nerves as you sleep. As you enter deeper stages of sleep your joints may become “irritated” enough to cause a signal to the brain to move or change positions to lessen the pressure. If it happens often enough you will feel that you’re not sleeping well. These are the conditions that pillows and mattresses can improve.

Most sleep disturbances in adults result from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Snoring, or other conditions involving airway collapse during sleep. If you snore, there’s a near 70% chance that you have Sleep Apnea or that your oxygen is dropping to levels that increase risk of stroke or heart attacks. That is the first consideration to rule out.

Narrowing of the throat (such as with snoring, gasping, jerking) is a reaction to significant drops in the oxygen in your blood and brain. The brain reacts by sending a “flight or fight-like” surge of adrenaline to jerk or twitch us awake and take a breath (but not awake enough to remember) This can happen many time per hour and rob our body of sleep it needs to be mentally sharp.

Another stage of sleep causes all body muscles to be “paralyzed” and completely relaxed. This is believed to be so that our joints, vertebral discs, and cartilage discs, ligaments can have time to repair and heal from the day’s jarring. The oxygen drops associated with Sleep Apnea episodes (snorts, snoring, gasps) are micro-arousals (mentioned above) that re-engage the muscles and interrupt the joint repair periods of sleep. This can lead to joint discomfort, muscle aches and pains, etc. in the morning. Especially if we already have some “wear and tear” on our joints from sports or activities.

If you suffer from poor sleep, achy tired joints in the neck, back or TMJ in the morning, make sure to have your Physician or a Dental Sleep Specialist evaluate you for potential Sleep breathing problems, in addition to finding comfort with pillows and mattresses.

Our website has a convenient, private self-assessment that you can take and have instant feedback as to risk factors for  a Sleep breathing disorder. TMJ problems are also associated almost 70% of the time to a sleep disorder. Clenching and bruxing are also activities triggered by breathing interruptions that eventually damage the joints and discs, in addition to our teeth.

I work with local Sleep Specialists and Physicians to help determine whether patients with TMJ pain, neck pain, or other symptoms should be screened for a sleep disorder.

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