We hope everyone is enjoying the warmer weather and feeling renewed by the springtime air. The spring season launches a rejuvenation cycle that happens in nature and with people as well. Spring is a perfect time for hope and change.
For our wonderful patients, we hope that the refreshment of the season evolves into prioritizing health, feeling better and living your best. If you have been struggling with feelings of fatigue and exhaustion and suspect that your nighttime breathing might be less than ideal, this is the time to commit to making the change. Seek help by starting with evaluating your airway.
If you’ve been down that path already and have a prescribed treatment that you cannot tolerate, we encourage you to make a commitment to change the treatment.
Regretfully, the celebration of spring can also mean the presence of immune triggers reacting to the carried pollens in the air. This season can also be a haven for spring allergies. Please be aware of allergy sensitivities and the inflammation effects on the body.
Please call us today for more info if you suspect that you or loved one may be at sleep breathing risk!
Allergies and Sleep
Allergic rhinitis occurs when allergens in the air are breathed by a patient that is allergic to them, irritating and inflaming the nasal passages. Allergens may include dust mites, pollen, molds, or pet dander. In people who are allergic to them, these particles trigger the release of a chemical in the body that causes nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose. These symptoms can lead to poor sleep, which can result in significant daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
Allergic rhinitis (allergies) may occur year-round or seasonally. When it occurs seasonally it is usually caused by airborne particles from trees, grass, ragweed, or outdoor mold. Causes of year-round allergic rhinitis include indoor substances such as pet dander, indoor mold, cockroach and dust mites in bedding, mattresses, and carpeting.
Sleep problems are common in people with allergic rhinitis. One study found that sleep is dramatically impaired by allergic symptoms and that the degree of impairment is related to the severity of those symptoms. In addition, sleep problems are linked with fatigue and daytime sleepiness as well as decreased productivity at work or
school, impaired learning and memory, depression, and a reduced quality of life.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep, is linked with allergic rhinitis. OSA occurs when
the muscles of the throat relax and fail to hold the airway open during sleep. People with OSA may suffer from severe daytime sleepiness and a range of chronic health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and sexual dysfunction. Nasal congestion, which causes the upper airway to narrow, increases the risk of both snoring and OSA among allergic rhinitis patients. The good news is that reducing nasal inflammation may reduce symptoms of snoring and OSA as well as daytime fatigue and sleepiness, according to at least one study. This is particularly important for those OSA patients who have trouble with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices because of nasal congestion.
With such a high rate of sleep disorders and other health problems among allergic rhinitis patients, getting adequate sleep on a regular basis is essential to maintaining physical and mental health as well as performance, safety, and overall well-being.
Sleep and Performance
The most immediate effect of sleep deprivation is sleepiness. In our daily lives, we may experience this as a general fatigue, lack of motivation, or even the experience of nodding off. In the research or clinical setting, scientists measure sleepiness using a variety of methods. After a period of sleep deprivation, there are noticeable changes in brain activity, as measured by an EEG. These changes correspond to a lower level of alertness and a general propensity to sleep. Any period of continual wakefulness beyond the typical 16 hours or so will generally lead to these measurable changes.
In addition to the feeling of sleepiness and changes in brain activity that accompany a night without sleep, other measures of performance are noticeably altered. Concentration, working memory, mathematical capacity, and logical reasoning are all aspects of cognitive function compromised by sleep deprivation. However, not all of these functions rely on the same regions of the brain, nor are they impacted by sleep deprivation to the same degree. For example, the region of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is responsible for many higher-level cognitive functions and is particularly vulnerable to a lack of sleep. As a result, people who are sleep deprived will begin to show deficits in many tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought. As the prevalence of inadequate sleep grows and the demands of the workplace change, it becomes increasingly critical that we recognize and take action to mitigate the impact that insufficient sleep has on our safety and well-being.
The Relationship between Sleep and Health
We all have some sense of the relationship between sleep and our ability to function throughout the day. After all, everyone has experienced the fatigue, bad mood, or lack of focus that so often follow a night of poor sleep. What many people do not realize is that a lack of sleep—especially on a regular basis—is associated with long-term health consequences, including chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and that these conditions may lead to a shortened life expectancy. Additional research studies show that habitually sleeping more than nine hours is also associated with poor health. Researching the Link Between Sleep Duration and Chronic Disease
There are three main types of study that help us understand the links between sleep habits and the risk of developing certain diseases. The first type (called sleep deprivation studies) involves depriving healthy research volunteers of sleep and examining any short-term hysiological changes that could trigger disease. Such studies have revealed a variety of potentially harmful effects of sleep deprivation usually associated with increased stress, such as increased blood pressure, impaired control of blood glucose, and increased inflammation. The second type of research (called cross-sectional epidemiological studies) involves examining questionnaires that provide information about habitual sleep duration and the existence of a particular disease or group of diseases in large populations at one point in time. For example, both reduced and increased sleep duration, as reported on questionnaires, are linked with hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. The third and most convincing type of evidence that long-term sleep habits are associated with the development of numerous diseases comes from tracking the sleep habits and disease patterns over long periods of time in individuals who are initially healthy (i.e., longitudinal epidemiological studies).
Example of a Sleep-Related Disease: Obesity
It has been recently determined that obesity is a medical disease. Insufficient sleep has also been linked to a high probability for weight gain. For example, studies have shown that people who habitually sleep less than six hours per night are much more likely to have a higher than average body mass index (BMI and that people who sleep eight hours have the lowest BMI. Sleep is now being seen as a potential risk factor for obesity along with the two most commonly identified risk factors: lack of exercise and overeating. Research into the mechanisms involved in regulating metabolism and appetite are beginning to explain what the connection between sleep and obesity might be.
During sleep, our bodies secrete hormones that help to control appetite, energy metabolism, and glucose processing. Obtaining too little sleep upsets the balance of these and other hormones. For example, poor sleep leads to an increase in the production of cortisol, often referred to as the “stress hormone.” Poor sleep is also associated with increases in the secretion of insulin following a meal. Insulin is a hormone that regulates glucose processing and promotes fat storage; higher levels of insulin are associated with weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes.
Insufficient sleep is also associated with lower levels of leptin, a hormone that alerts the brain that it has enough food, as well as higher levels of ghrelin, a biochemical that stimulates appetite. As a result, poor sleep may result in food cravings even after we have eaten an adequate number of calories. We may also be more likely to eat foods such as sweets that satisfy the craving for a quick energy boost. In addition, insufficient sleep may leave us too tired to burn off these extra calories with exercise.