Is Sleep Apnea Something You Can Be Born With?

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If you find out that sleep apnea is stopping you from breathing properly in the middle of the night, your first question is naturally likely to be, “How did this start?” A sleep disorder can be linked to a mix of lifestyle factors, including obesity and overuse of alcohol. But is it possible for sleep apnea to be a condition that you were born with? As it turns out, your genetics may end up contributing to a sleep disorder – and that could have severe implications for your health in the long term.

What Kinds of Sleep Apnea are There?

When discussing sleep apnea, it should be noted that there are actually multiple forms of the disorder. The most common is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat become too relaxed, completely or partially closing the airway. Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, is a failure of the brain; at night, your muscles don’t receive the correct signals for controlling your breathing. In rare situations, you can suffer from both types of sleep apnea at the same time.

Is Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

In general, central sleep apnea isn’t considered a hereditary disease. While there are a few risk factors for the disorder that can be genetic – such as certain heart issues – most of the causes have no such component. There’s little to suggest that a parent could pass down central sleep apnea to their child.

Obstructive sleep apnea, on the other hand, is much more likely to be influenced by your genetics. For example, being overweight is one of the most well-known causes for the disorder, and it is well established that some people are more genetically disposed to obesity than others. Also, if you’re born with a particularly thick neck, narrow airway, small lower jaw, or unusually large tonsils, your risk for obstructive sleep apnea will be much higher. Overall, it is estimated that obstructive sleep apnea is about 40 percent linked to genetics, although there are naturally numerous other factors that are environmental or lifestyle-related instead.

Can Sleep Apnea Be Prevented?

Even if your genetics make you more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, you can take a few steps to lower your risk for the condition, such as:

  • Not drinking alcohol before bed
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising frequently to ensure a good night’s rest
  • Avoiding sleeping pills that could overrelax the throat muscles
  • Sleeping on your side (as sleeping on your back tends to worsen sleep apnea)

That said, even if you take precautions, you could still end up suffering from sleep …

Un-stuff Your Stuffy Nose For Better Sleep

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Whether or Not You Use CPAP

In this video I’m going to reveal why it’s so vitally important for you to breathe well through your nose if CPAP is going to work for you. Whether or not you have obstructive sleep apnea, good nasal breathing is vital for optimal health. 

In this 8 minute video, I will discuss:

  • How good nasal breathing can increase oxygen uptake by up to 20%
  • 5 ways to breathe better through your nose
  • How nasal surgery can increase CPAP use by up to 5 hours.

Check out my book, Totally CPAP: A Sleep Physician’s Guide to 

Restoring Your Sleep and Reclaiming Your Life

The post Un-stuff Your Stuffy Nose For Better Sleep appeared first on Doctor Steven Y. Park, MD | New York, NY | Integrative Solutions for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome, and Snoring.

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Natural and Unnatural Ways to Decongest Your Nose

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If you search the Internet, there are literally hundreds of different suggestions on how to get rid of a stuffy nose. Some of the commonly seen options include natural, home remedies such as steam, garlic, onion, essential oils, saline, and ginger.

However, in this article, I’d like to focus on ways to decongest your stuffy nose by describing natural and unnatural ways of changing the status of your nasal autonomic nervous system. Nasal breathing is controlled by the two parts of the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic and parasympathetic.

The sympathetic nervous system controls your “fight or flight” response, causing constriction of your blood vessels. The parasympathetic nervous system activates your relaxation state, such as sleep, digestion, and sex. This is also what explains the nasal cycle, where one side opens up, alternating from side to side every few hours. This article will go over 5 unnatural and 7 natural ways of activating your nose’s sympathetic nervous system to improve your nasal breathing.

5 Unnatural Ways to Breathe Better Through Your Nose

  1. Nasal decongestants. Over-the-counter nasal decongestants such as phenylephrine or oxymetazoline are probably some of the most commonly used treatments for people with stuffy noses. These medications constrict blood vessels receptors inside your nose. The effects can be relatively quick and dramatic, but the effect lasts shorter and shorter the longer you use it. This is why it’s important not to use these products for more than 3-5 days. Many people become addicted to these sprays, leading to a condition called rhinitis medicamentosa. If you are addicted, you must see an ENT doctor who can help you wean you off this drug.
  2. Epinephrine (adrenaline). This is a hormone/neurotransmitter that’s normally produced by your adrenal gland during periods of intense stress. It’s one of many medications that constrict blood vessels as well as to stimulate your heart. This will raise your blood pressure and heart rate. It can also reverse severe allergic reactions such as seen with bee-stings or peanut allergies. Nasal decongestants are much weaker versions of epinephrine, with some people experiencing heart racing, palpitations, or a rise in blood pressure.
  3. Cocaine. This is a powerful decongestant as well as an anesthetic. Use in the nose over time an cause a hole in the septum, not to mention a bad drug addiction. Many famous people were cocaine addicts, including Sigmund Freud, Thomas Edison, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, and Witney Houston.
  4. Nasal dilator devices. These are devices or gadgets to spread your nostrils apart. The most well-known option is called Breathe Right strips, but there are also dozens of other options that go on the outside of

Sleep Talk: Episode 56 – Sleep in the Pandemic

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Episode 56: Sleep in the Pandemic

The current pandemic is affecting people around the world and having a significant impact on their sleep. We discuss changes in sleep seen during the pandemic and strategies people can use to help improve their sleep during this difficult time.

Dr Moira Junge (Health Psychologist) and Dr David Cunnington (Sleep Physician) host the monthly podcast, Sleep Talk – Talking all things sleep.

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Audio Timeline / Chapters:

  • 00:00 – 02:08 Introduction
  • 02:08 – 21:13 Theme – Sleep in the Pandemic
  • 21:13 – 22:42 Clinical Tip
  • 22:42 – 25:40 Pick of the Month
  • 25:40 – 27:07 What’s Coming Up?

Next episode: Sleep and Pain

Links mentioned in the podcast:


Regular hosts:

Dr Moira JungeDr Moira Junge is a health psychologist working in the sleep field, who has considerable experience working with people with sleeping difficulties in a multidisciplinary practice using a team-based approach. Moira is actively involved with the Australasian Sleep Association (ASA) and a board member of the Sleep Health Foundation. She has presented numerous workshops for psychologists and is involved with Monash University with teaching and supervision commitments. She is one of the founders and clinic directors at Yarraville Health Group which was established in 1998. 

Connect with Moira on Twitter – @MoiraJunge

Dr David CunningtonDr David Cunnington is a sleep physician and director of Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre, and co-founder and contributor to SleepHub. David trained in sleep medicine both in Australia and in the United States, at Harvard Medical School, and is an International Sleep Medicine Specialist, Diplomate Behavioral Sleep Medicine and Registered Polysomnographic Technologist. David’s clinical practice covers all areas of sleep medicine and he is actively involved in training health professionals in sleep.

Connect with David on Twitter – @DavidCunnington. David also regularly posts information on sleep to his Facebook page.

Need more information about how you can sleep better?

At Sleephub we understand the struggle people endure with sleeping problems which is why we have created a comprehensive FAQs page with information for those seeking information about sleep disorders and potential solutions.

Check our resources or take our Sleep Wellness Quiz for a free assessment of elements that may be keeping you from a …

Best Chin Straps For CPAP Masks

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The CPAP chin strap is incredibly functional for CPAP patients who snore at night. Chin straps are very useful in keeping your mouth closed at the time of sleeping, and also helps prevent dry mouth signs in the morning. Breathing out and in by the nostrils is the most ideal way to sleep. But, most […]

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Who Is Most at Risk for Sleep Apnea? 5 Key Factors

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Man with sleep apnea sprawled out in bed

The unfortunate truth is that virtually anyone could have or potentially develop sleep apnea; if you snore or find yourself feeling exhausted during the day, you should definitely seek a diagnosis for the disorder no matter what your personal risk level is. That said, some patients are more likely to develop sleep apnea than others, and there are a number of key risk factors that can tell you whether you should be worried about your breathing potentially being interrupted at night. Keep reading to learn about 5 factors that could eventually lead to needing sleep apnea treatment in Irving.

1. Excess Weight

Obesity and sleep apnea are very closely related. When fat deposits start to build up around the upper airway, the chances of the airway becoming blocked during the night increase substantially. Such obstructions can occur multiple times every night, forcing you to wake up frequently for air and causing oxygen levels in your blood to drop. Furthermore, people with sleep apnea are also more likely to gain weight due to the lack of rest interfering with the hormones responsible for controlling appetite; needless to say, gaining more weight could make your sleep apnea even worse, leading to a vicious cycle.

2. Narrowed Airway

The narrower the airway, the easier it is to obstruct. Some patients just naturally have airways that are narrower than usual; there’s also a chance that unremoved tonsils or adenoids could become enlarged and prevent air from flowing freely.

3. Smoking

There’s seemingly no end to the different ways that smoking can have a negative impact on your health. Using any kind of tobacco product could lead to inflammation in the upper airway, and that in turn could cause an obstruction. It has been found that smokers are three times as likely to have obstructive sleep apnea as nonsmokers.

4. Family History

While your personal environment and lifestyle have a major influence on whether or not you develop sleep apnea, it’s important to note that having family members with sleep apnea does tend to increase personal risk. This could be for one of several reasons, such as an inherited narrow airway or a disposition to obesity.

5. Being Male

Men are the most likely to develop sleep apnea, being two to three times more likely to suffer from the disorder than women. That said, women can still be at risk, especially after menopause. (The odds of sleep apnea occurring tend to increase with age for both men and women.)

Keep the above risk factors in mind if you notice possible symptoms of sleep apnea, such as being constantly tired during the day. …

Q&A About Sleep Apnea with James Nestor, Author of Breath

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James Nestor is an award-winning journalist and author of Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. It became an instant New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times Top 10 bestseller. I had the privilege of being interviewed for his video FAQs section for his book about obstructive sleep apnea. I strongly encourage you to read his book. 

The post Q&A About Sleep Apnea with James Nestor, Author of Breath appeared first on Doctor Steven Y. Park, MD | New York, NY | Integrative Solutions for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome, and Snoring.

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Tips to Help You Talk to Your Loved One About Their Sleep Issues

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Tossing and turning, snoring, gasping for air, lying awake for extended periods of time, going the bathroom multiple times per night. These are all common – and frustrating – sleep issues that have a detrimental effect on sleep quality and quantity – for the sufferer, to be sure, but also for those with whom they share a bed, bedroom, or even a home. 

More often than not, sleep issues like these are a sign of an underlying sleep disorder or other health concern that needs to be addressed. And while it’s certainly unfortunate that a sleep partner may experience reduced sleep quality as well, they can actually play a significant role in the solution by insisting that their loved one seek out advice, diagnosis, and treatment from a medical professional. In fact, a recent study highlights the importance of discussing sleep disturbances and their potential consequences with a loved one or housemate, as they impact the quality of the relationship and individual qualities of life. 

The Danger of Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), insomnia, and restless leg syndrome, cause interruptions to sleep patterns and other metabolic consequences that pose a serious threat to the sufferer’s overall health and well-being, especially when left unaddressed or untreated for an extended period of time. 

In the short-term, interrupted sleep can lead to a variety of concerning symptoms stemming from daytime drowsiness. Some of these include:

  • Memory issues
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Depleted motor skills
  • Poor balance
  • Mood changes 

Over time, untreated sleep disorders can cause long-term health consequences, such as weakened immunity, high blood pressure, weight gain, an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease, among many others.

Discussing Sleep Concerns with Your Loved One

If you’ve found yourself in a situation where the sleep issues of someone else are negatively impacting your sleep, it’s time to take action. Sleep concerns can certainly be a sensitive topic, but discussing them is necessary for your health, your partner’s health, and the overall health of your relationship. 

When an issue goes unacknowledged for too long, tensions can build and result in resentment. You can create a space for open dialog by noting your genuine concern for your partner’s sleep health, as well as your knowledge that while problematic, these sleep disturbances are unintentional. Below we’ve listed a few tips on how to navigate an ongoing conversation surrounding sleep concerns with your partner:

  • Record the Disturbance. You may find it helpful to record your partner during the night so that you can replay the disturbance as proof of a problem. This is helpful if your partner doesn’t acknowledge the weight

Can Acid Reflux Medications Cause Dementia?

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An interesting article caught my attention regarding the association between long-term proton pump inhibitor use and rates of dementia. Researchers from the University of Rostock in Germany analyzed over 73,000 medical records from an insurance database from 2004 to 2011. What they found was that patients receiving proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for acid reflux were found to have significantly higher rates of dementia (44%). 

My interest in this study comes from the fact that acid reflux and obstructive sleep apnea tend to go hand in hand. Obstructive episodes can create tremendous vacuum forces in the chest and throat cavities, literally suctioning up normal stomach juices into the esophagus and even the throat. Besides conservative recommendations, acid-reducing medications such as PPIs (various brands include Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid) are usually prescribed. All these medications work by blocking the proton pump in the acid-secreting cells in the stomach. Another class of medications includes the H2 blockers, with two common brand names seen is Tagamet or Zantac. These medications are sold over the counter, as well as by prescription. It’s estimated that the market value for acid reflux medications in 2016 was $5.66 billion. 

Here are some of my comments and observations about this study:

  1. Mouse models have shown increased rates of beta-amyloid buildup in mice given PPIs.
  2. PPI use was shown to block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, potentially leading to dementia. 
  3. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is also associated with higher rates of dementia. In this Taiwanese insurance database study, there was an overall 1.7x increased risk of having dementia if you also had OSA. For older males (ages 50 to 59), the risk was 6x higher, and for older females (> 70), about 3x higher.
  4. In this prospective study, older women (average age 82) without dementia were found to develop higher rates of mild cognitive impairment (1.85x) if they had obstructive sleep apnea (AHI > 15).
  5. Intermittent hypoxia (low oxygen levels), which is commonly seen in patients with untreated obstructive sleep apnea has been shown to increase levels of beta-amyloid plaques in mice.
  6. Acid reflux medications do nothing to prevent acid reflux. Instead, they lower acid production in the stomach, rather than keeping stomach contents in the stomach. What comes up, however, still includes bile, bacteria, and digestive enzymes. Pepsin, a well-known stomach enzyme, has been found in the lung, ear and nasal/sinus areas.

It’s important to realize that all of the above-mentioned studies don’t prove cause and effect, but only associations. It’s hard to tease out if dementia and OSA have the same causes (leading to an association), or if needing to take …

Can Sleep Apnea Lead to an Unhealthy Heart?

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Man sleeping on side snoring; wife in backgroundMost people don’t realize they’re suffering from sleep apnea until they’ve received a proper diagnosis. As such, it’s fairly easy to overlook the potentially devastating effect the condition could have on your health. Sleep apnea can cause your breathing to stop 5 to 30 times every hour while you’re asleep, and the loss of oxygen can put a strain on your body – and that naturally includes your heart. Read on to learn more about the connection between breathing-related sleep disorders and heart health – and why being proactive about improving the quality of your slumber might save your life.

What Link Has Been Found Between Sleep Apnea and Heart Health?

According to Harvard Medical School, patients with untreated sleep apnea are up to five times more likely to experience a fatal heart disease. Furthermore, roughly 47 to 83 percent of patients with cardiovascular disease are also found to have sleep apnea. Note that this link may be partially due to the fact that heart problems and breathing-related sleep disorders are both connected to obesity. That said, the direct effect of sleep apnea on your heart cannot be overlooked.

How Does Sleep Apnea Damage Your Heart?

During sleep apnea, breathing is repeatedly stopped, causing oxygen levels in your body to drop. As a result, your brain will release adrenaline due to the stress that a lack of oxygen places on your body. If adrenaline levels remain high for an extended amount of time, your blood pressure will rise. High blood pressure can easily lead to stroke and heart disease – two leading causes of death and disability in the United states.

Do You Have Sleep Apnea?

It’s estimated that about 20 percent of adults have some form of sleep apnea. Anyone can suffer from the condition, but it tends to be more common in men as well as people who are overweight. The most noticeable sign of sleep apnea is typically loud snoring, which will most likely be reported by a roommate or sleeping partner. Other symptoms are more subtle, but they might include chronic exhaustion, insomnia, occasionally waking up gasping for air, general irritability, and weight gain.

What to Do About Sleep Apnea

The good news is that you can reverse much of the impact sleep apnea has on your health by having the disorder properly treated. After having a sleep study performed, you can talk to a sleep dentist about getting an oral appliance that keeps your airway open so that you don’t have to worry about it becoming blocked at night. Different appliances might be used depending on your needs and the severity of …