Sleep Disorder Treatments Tips

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Million Dollar CPAP

CPAP is the best and quickest way to control Sleep Apnea. A CPAP is a device that delivers Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. In simple terms, CPAP delivers continuous air through a mask or nasal pillows into your nose and down your throat keeping the airway open so that the airway does not cause blockage.
Once Sleep Apnea is, diagnosed one of the first options is to have a second overnight sleep study so that CPAP corrects the airway obstruction. Titration is the term used to find out how much positive air it takes to keep the airway open and stop the number of Sleep Apnea episodes.

I had a patient with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which had disrupted his life over the years. Once he started using his CPAP, he said, “I feel so good I would not take a million dollars for my CPAP unit.


Easy Way to Stop Snoring

Snoring patients need a way to stay off their back when sleeping because as we relax on our backs the tissue in the throat falls more easily across the airway. A great help for staying off the back during sleep is to wear a tennis ball shirt.

When I first started working in the sleep lab, we ordered tennis ball shirts for all of our snoring patients. The shirt is a normal tee shirt with a pocket in the center of the back to hold a regular tennis ball. The idea is that the tennis ball will remind the patient to roll back to the side instead sleeping on their back.

I also have heard of Sleep Labs that put three pockets for tennis balls across the back for maximum coverage. If you do not have access to a tennis ball shirt then safety pin a sock filled with rolled socks to the back of the your tee shirt and happy sleeping.


Wedge Me, Please!

To help stop snoring that can lead to Sleep Apnea get a wedge. Most home care companies have foam wedges that will fit your bed like a pillow. Wedges are more comfortable than stacks of pillows.


Poly needs some somno.

A diagnostic Sleep Doctor can order a test called a Polysmnogram or Sleep study for suspected Sleep Apnea. A Polysomnongram is simply a Poly meaning many, somno meaning sleep, and gram which means tracing. Many different areas are being traced or recorded on the computer while a patient sleeps at night.

What are some herbal remedies for sleep disorders?

Herbal Remedies for Sleep Disorders

Some people benefit from holistic or herbal remedies for sleeping disorders. Always check with your doctor before taking herbal or over-the-counter treatments at home. Here are some herbs on the market that claim to be a sleep disorder remedy for problems such as insomnia.

- Herbal teas, infusions and baths can all help with insomnia.

- Mellodyn - a natural supplement that helps you fall asleep fast and stay asleep through the night by working with your body's own sleep-wake cycles to achieve natural sleep patterns.

Passionflower - calming and sleep inducing, relieves pain, and muscular spasms. It is useful for the treatment of general insomnia, insomnia in asthmatics, hysteria, cramps, and nerve pain.

Chamomile - promotes well-being. It's good for the digestion, is relaxing and generally soothing. A cup of chamomile tea before bedtime is an excellent way to encourage sleep If you have a history of allergies, however, especially to plants such as ragweed, you shouldn't use chamomile.

How can I treat my sleep disorder with lifestyle/behavioral treatments?

Lifestyle/Behavioral Treatments for Sleep Disorders

Beyond the medication available to treat sleep disorders, there is a range of lifestyle/behavioral treatments. They include:

- Relaxation training: methods such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), deep breathing techniques, imagery, and self-hypnosis. PMR involves helping the individual to tense and relax the body's major muscle groups. Daily practice of these relaxation techniques between therapy sessions is recommended.

- Cognitive therapy: cognitive therapy helps people with insomnia identify and correct inappropriate thoughts and beliefs that may contribute to insomnia. Cognitive therapy offers proper information about sleep norms, age-related sleep changes, reasonable sleep goals, and the influence of naps and exercise.

- Stimulus control: the belief that insomnia may be related to the bedrooms having become associated with other things besides sleep and intimate affairs with your partner. Therefore, the bedroom should be reserved for sleep, sex and dressing only.

- Sleep restriction therapy: SRT is based on the belief that excess time in bed makes sleep problems worse. SRT consists of limiting a persons time in bed to only that time where they are sleeping.

- Sleep hygiene: this refers to practices, habits and environmental factors that are important for getting sound sleep. The four general areas important to sleep hygiene are the circadian rhythm (24-hour cycle), aging, psychological stressors that cause mini-awakenings (in which the brain wakes up for just a few seconds) and stimulant use.

- Circadian rhythms influence when, how much, and how well people sleep. These rhythms may be altered by the timing of various factors, including naps, bedtime, exercise, and exposure to light.

- Stress can interfere with sleep. Some people find it helpful to make a list of all the stressors of the day, along with a plan to deal with them. In addition, periods of relaxation (meditating or taking a hot bath) can help a person relax and get to sleep. Stimulants can stay in the body as long as 14 hours and can increase the number of times you wake up in the middle of the night. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. The effects of nicotine, when consumed in high doses, are similar to those of caffeine.

What are some treatments for night terrors?

Treatments For Night Terrors

Treatments specifically for night terrors include hypnosis, guided imagery techniques and benzodiazepines.

Hypnosis: An artificially induced altered state of consciousness, characterized by heightened suggestibility and receptivity to direction.

Guided imagery: an alternative medicine therapy in which the patient uses positive visualizations and thoughts to aid healing and promote reduction in anxiety or pain

Benzodiazepines: Any of a group of chemical compounds with a common molecular structure and similar pharmacological effects, used as anti-anxiety agents, muscle relaxants, sedatives, hypnotics, and sometimes as anti-convulsants.

A visit to a sleep disorder clinics is also a good idea for those plagued with chronic night terrors.

What should I know before taking sleep disorder medication?

What to Consider Before Taking Sleep Disorder Medication

We all know enough to read the labels of the drugs we take and be aware of any side effects. However, there are other factors to consider before taking sleep disorder medication. Here are some guidelines from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Before taking that pill, consider the following:

-- Read carefully the package insert and all information provided by your physician and pharmacist for your sleep medication. This information will help guide you in the safe use of the medication.

-- Especially read the package insert and all information to learn the side effects of the medication.

-- Adhere strictly to the indicated use of your sleep medication. Do not take it for purposes other than to sleep.

-- Follow the prescription carefully and do not take more than the dosage your doctor prescribes.

-- Allow time for a full night of sleep when using sleep medication to avoid morning or daytime drowsiness.

-- Avoid combining sleep medication with alcohol.

-- Ask your doctor any questions you have about the intended use, dosage and side effects. Communication with your physician will help ensure safe use of the medication.

-- Inform your doctor right away of any problems you have while taking a sleep medication.

-- Make your doctor aware of any other medications, prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines that you use. Mixing medications may cause adverse effects.

-- Make your doctor aware of other medical conditions, including other sleep disorders, you may have. Sleep medications can be dangerous when treating sleep disruption that may arise from another disorder.

What does the half-life of a medication mean?

The Half-life of Your Sleep Medication

It is important to know what the half-life is of your sleep medication. Hypnotic drugs that induce and maintain sleep differ by half-life. Half-life refers to how long a drug is active in the body. Drugs that have a shorter half-life are effective in the body for a shorter time. Shorter half-lives are usually preferred so that daytime functioning is not impaired the next day or after waking.

So talk to your doctor about the half-life of your sleep medication, especially if you feel impaired during the day after taking your medication.

What is an oral appliance?

Using Oral Appliances to Treat Sleep Disorders

An oral appliance is worn in your mouth as you sleep. It is used to move the jaw forward or hold the mouth open and helps reduce snoring or grinding of the teeth while you sleep. It is made of soft plastic and fits over your teeth like a sports mouth guard.

How do you know if you need an oral appliance? Here are some guidelines, courtesy of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine:

- People with bruxism may wear one to protect their teeth
- Some oral appliances are made to help reduce your snoring
- Others have been shown to help ease obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Patients may be asked to try an oral appliance if for some reason they cannot use positive airway pressure (PAP).

Can I help fight insomnia just by changing my thinking?

Sleep Attitudes Matter in Treatment

A study published in the March 2006 issue of the journal Sleep indicates that beliefs and attitudes about sleep are key to the treatment of insomnia. Don't underestimate the power of the mind. We can actually talk ourselves out of sleeping well!

Research shows insomnia sufferers share many misconceptions about insomnia and sleep, some of which can be corrected through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Some of those misconceptions include you "can't manage negative sleep consequences" and "sleep is worsening and no one can help."

There is a Dysfunctional Beliefs and Attitudes about Sleep scale experts use to diagnose sufferers' attitudes about sleep. Using CBT in studies, sufferers were able to diffuse some of those statements more ably than they could when using other types of treatment. That's because cognitive therapy offers proper information about sleep norms, age-related sleep changes, reasonable sleep goals, and the influence of naps and exercise.

How do I use my CPAP mask properly?

Twelve CPAP Treatment Pointers

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It is a mask that keeps your airway open as you sleep by providing you with a steady stream of air.

If you are using a CPAP as treatment for a sleep disorder, read through these 12 rules first, courtesy of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

1. Begin using your CPAP for short periods of time during the day while you watch TV or read.

2. Use the "ramp" setting on your unit so the air pressure increases slowly to the proper level.

3. Use CPAP every night and for every nap. Using it less often reduces the health benefits and makes it harder for your body to get used to it.

4. Newer CPAP models are virtually silent; however, if you find the sound of your CPAP machine to be bothersome, place the unit under your bed to dampen the sound.

5. Make small adjustments to your mask, tubing, straps and headgear until you get the right fit.

6. Use a saline nasal spray to ease mild nasal congestion.

7. Take a nasal decongestant to relieve more severe nasal or sinus congestion.

8. Use a heated humidifier that fits your CPAP model to enhance your breathing comfort.

9. Try a system that uses nasal pillows if traditional masks give you problems.

10. Clean your mask, tubing and headgear once a week.

11. Regularly check and replace the filters for your CPAP unit and humidifier.

12. Work closely with your sleep doctor and your CPAP supplier to make sure that you have the machine, mask and air pressure setting that works best for you.

What are the rules of a sleep center?

How Sleep Centers Are Organized and Accredited

A sleep center or sleep clinic can help detect and treat any sleep disorder that may trouble you. A sleep center may be organized in the following three ways:

- hospital based
- university based
- privately owned or "freestanding"

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) sets strict rules for centers to follow and accredits two types of medical facilities:

1. Sleep disorders centers: a center must provide testing and treatment for all of the sleep disorders.

2. Laboratories for sleep-related breathing disorders: their focus is on sleep-related breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea. For other sleep disorders, you may be referred to a sleep disorders center.

Standards that the facilities have to meet in order to receive accreditation from the AASM include:

- Their medical director must be a physician who has been licensed by the state.
- A sleep specialist on staff who has been certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine.
- Their testing rooms must provide for the privacy, comfort and security of patients.
- All staff must continue to take classes on an annual basis.
- All fees and billing must comply with both federal and state regulations.
- They have to adhere to all federal, state, and local regulations for the operation of a medical practice.
- They also must follow the American Medical Association's "Code of Medical Ethics."

The Accreditation Committee is made up of the National Chair and nine other sleep specialists from across the U.S. A site visit must prove to the Committee and the AASM Board of Directors that a facility meets all of the standards. If this is the case, then full accreditation is granted for five years.

What is the cost of treatment at a sleep center?

The Cost of Treatment at a Sleep Center

If you are shopping for a sleep center, be aware that many insurance providers require that a site be accredited before they will cover expenses for sleep services.

So do your research and pick a sleep center that has been accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine if you can. As for how much a sleep center visit will cost you, cost varies from one site to another. It may also vary from one part of the country to another.

An insurance policy that covers outpatient tests such as an x-ray or an EEG should also cover an overnight sleep study. Medicaid and Medicare may have more rigid policies of coverage. Consult your healthcare company before you sign on with a sleep center to ensure that you have full understanding of coverage and fees.

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Joe Wallace