Before we get into the subject of various sleep disorders, please take a moment to read this note that we received from a delighted patient who never dreamed a sleep disorder was at the heart of her MANY health problems. She had been seeing doctors almost monthly for an entire year. No one had thought to ask about her sleep habits. We took the time to chat with her and discovered her underlying health problem...
Here is the thank you note she later wrote us....
Bottom-line: This nice gal had been seeing doctors over and over without improvements. No one had ever asked her about her sleep issues. One day when she was in for a dental visit, we took the time to have an in-depth conversation with her about the bigger picture, and we helped her to discover that her sleep disorder was the underlying factor that determined her ability to reverse her health problems.
So why should you care about snoring, if everyone has worked out some way to sleep through it?
Well,.. snoring is a symptom of a poor ability to breath well. Essentially, if your breathing is not smooth and quiet, you are not getting enough oxygen while you sleep. Your body can not recover and sleep does not have a restoring quality. Over a long period of time, a lack of properly oxygenated blood will incapacitate many of your body systems and health problems will crop up.... ALL of them seemingly unrelated.
Let me see if I can break this down to something useful for us all...
Here's a personal story you might relate to: I mentioned to my brother the last time I saw him that he didn't look as "energized" as he has to me for years. He has always been the picture of "vigor" to me: former F15 pilot, incredible multi-tasker, very brainy. But he and I are nearing 50 years old now and our genetics for high blood pressure AND weight problems are starting to creep up on us both.
I asked him if he's getting the same kind of restful sleep as he did in his 30's.
That's when he snapped back "Now don't you start lecturing me too about wearing one of those crazy masks when I sleep. I don't even want to discuss it. I'm fine."
Unfortunately, that response is typical of our general knowledge of sleep related disorders. I didn't even know much about the subject until I really dove in and started studying. Here's some background information:
Sleep disorders may be defined as any condition that keeps you from getting an adequate amount of fully restorative sleep most nights. Problems with sleep can involve failure to fall asleep or failure to stay asleep.
There are essentially 6 stages of sleep and each night you cycle through them all about four to six times:
1. Autogenisis - The first 30-35 seconds prior to stage 1. It is characterized by relaxation of muscles.
2. Stage One - The 'dozing' stage characterized by slow rolling eyes. 5% of non-REM sleep is in this stage.
3.Stage Two -Characterized by no eye movements. 45% of non-REM sleep is in this stage.
4. Stage Three - This is the critical RESTORATIVE stage of sleep. It is usually 12% of non-REM sleep. Characterized by the individual being difficult to arouse.
5. Stage Four -When a person is aroused out of this stage they are disoriented and groggy.
6. REM Sleep - Most Dreaming takes place during this phase of sleep. REM sleep makes up 25% of the sleep cycle in normal adults.
Of particular concern can be how long it takes to get from Stage 1 to the first REM episode. Normally this is about 90 minutes. Then the cycle begins again. But if you are snoring (or a partner is snoring and keeping you awake) your ability to get to and stay in stage 3 for some time can be really quite irregular.
That's why it's important to look at your sleep patterns, or those of your sleep partner and honestly ask yourself if you are both getting a "restorative" kind of sleep.
If not, then the snoring is a problem and should be looked after.
We make a fabulous devise, a mouth splint, for our patients who snore and 95% of them are thrilled with the change it makes in their lives. This device is so useful that our local sleep disorder clinic refers their patients to us when they are unsuccessful using a C-PAP machine. Now that you know more about sleep in general, if snoring is a concern with your or a loved one, check out "Snoring" on the navigation menu upper left.
Factors that can change the sleep cycle at any stage can be:
Age Stage 3 increases with age
Sleep Deprivation Increase Stage 3 and decreases the length of time it takes to get to REM
Drug Interactions Can decrease Stage 3 or suppress REM
Alcohol Suppresses REM
Marjuana Chronic use can suppress Stage 3
Antidepressants (Elavil, Prozac. Wellbutrin, Pamelar) can change sleep stages
Undesirable body movements like tooth grinding and Restless leg syndrome
Posture while sleeping