Sleep Apnea: An Aging Accelerator

Originally at: https://www.sleepdallas.com/blog/sleepapneaandaging/

Sleep apnea accelerates aging

Nearly 30 million adults in the United States experience disturbances in their sleep cycles as a direct result of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition marked by pauses in breathing during sleep. With many cases remaining undiagnosed and untreated, this sleep disorder poses a major threat to the overall health of affected individuals – including causing their cells to age more rapidly.

While sleep apnea tends to target older adults, men, postmenopausal women, and those who smoke or struggle with obesity, it does not discriminate and manages to affect a wide range of individuals.  A variety of factors, including lifestyle and environment, determine the risk of developing sleep apnea. Additionally, research links sleep apnea to a number of health complications within a multitude of individuals such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. Snoring, sometimes accompanied by choking sounds or pauses in breathing, as well as symptoms of sleep deprivation during the day signal that sleep apnea may be impeding on not only your rest but also your overall health. New research indicates that the myriad of disruptive symptoms related to untreated sleep apnea may now include accelerated cell aging, especially in women.

The Connection Between Aging and Sleep Apnea

In 2019 Harvard University conducted a study investigating the relationship between epigenetic age acceleration (early aging of DNA within the cells) and sleep-disordered breathing among 622 adults. The research consisted of polysomnography (a sleep study) and “DNA methylation [in which] a marker for epigenetic age acceleration was measured in blood samples.”

The study concludes that severe sleep-disordered breathing correlates with early aging of DNA within cells. Further, the results found that out of all sleep-related conditions causing airway blockage in the throat, the number of obstructive sleep apnea cases outnumbered all other chronic sleep disorder occurrences. This comes as especially unfavorable news for women, who demonstrated stronger associations between their sleep disorders and epigenetic age accelerations than their male counterparts, despite typically exhibiting lower sleep disorder related health risks.

According to the lead author of the study, the correct treatment of conditions like sleep apnea can not only help improve health and decrease the risk of developing other serious health conditions, but can also reverse the consequences of epigenetic age acceleration. The sooner that individuals receive a sleep apnea diagnosis, the sooner they can begin combating the wide range of health issues, including premature aging, that accompany obstructive sleep apnea. 

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Multiple variations of sleep apnea wreak havoc on sleep cycles, the most common of which is obstructive sleep apnea. Individuals who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea experience episodes

Is Your Morning Headache a Sign of Sleep Apnea?

Originally at: https://www.sleepdallas.com/blog/sleep-apnea-causes-headaches/

Headache in bedYou wake up, and then immediately you notice the unpleasant pain in your head. Does this happen to you every morning? If so, it might be a sign of a sleep disorder. In particular, chronic headaches might be a sign that you have sleep apnea – a disorder that could lead to far worse problems if left alone. Read on to learn why those migraines might be warning you that you aren’t enjoying quality rest.

What is Sleep Apnea?

If you experience frequent pauses in your breathing while you’re asleep, you have sleep apnea. These pauses are usually due to the airway becoming blocked somehow, which can happen hundreds of times during the night. People with sleep apnea keep waking up when their breathing is interrupted; as a result, they often feel tired during the day even if they think they got a full night’s sleep.

How Does Sleep Apnea Cause Headaches?

When your breathing stops, your brain receives less oxygen. This causes the blood vessels in your head to widen, triggering vascular headaches. Sleep apnea-related headaches usually don’t last very long, but they can occur frequently. In general, more severe sleep apnea will result in more painful headaches.

What Other Effects Does Sleep Apnea Have?

You should especially consider morning headaches to be a potential symptom of sleep apnea if you also notice:

  • Loud snoring or interruptions in breathing during the night (which someone else would likely tell you about)
  • A lack of energy during the day
  • High blood pressure
  • A sudden increase of weight
  • Irritability, depression or mood swings

How Can You Treat Headaches Caused by Sleep Apnea?

Typically, treating your sleep apnea will also stop any recurring headaches that it’s causing. In many cases, you can improve your symptoms with an oral appliance. When worn at night, an oral appliance can adjust your tongue and/or jaw so that the airway remains open while you’re asleep. There are numerous different kinds of appliances you can get depending on your needs; for example, some are designed for patients with smaller mouths, while others can accommodate for orthodontic work.

There are also some changes you can make at home that make it easier to overcome sleep apnea. For instance, sleeping on your side (instead of on your back) can prevent tissues in your mouth in throat from collapsing and blocking your airway. Some patients benefit from using a humidifier; adding moisture to the air can sometimes encourage clearer breathing.

It’s important to stick to your sleep apnea treatment once you’ve begun; the disorder tends to worsen over time, and the symptoms associated with it also become …

Sleep Well in a Heat Wave

Originally at: https://www.sleepdallas.com/blog/sleep-well-heat-wave/

Summertime – it’s here! Bring on the longer days filled with sunshine, busy schedules, staying up late to socialize, vacations and other adventures. Unfortunately, the season of jam-packed schedules and distractions can make it harder to stick to a consistent sleep schedule and hotter temperatures can make sleep elusive and less refreshing. Don’t despair, though! With a few mindful changes, you can find yourself back on track and waking up with the energy you need to take on the season. Follow these tips to help ensure a good night’s sleep during the hottest of summer nights.

Keep the thermostat in the 60s. Do not be tempted to move your thermostat to the 70s to save money during sleep. Good sleep will make you more productive, so don’t trip over dollars to pick up nickels. If you don’t have air conditioning, make sure to use a fan to keep the air circulating.

Take advantage of the cooler mornings to get outside and reset your circadian rhythms. The sunshine can help reduce troubles falling asleep and help  eliminate the urge to stay up late. This will increase your sleep drive in the evenings when you need melatonin release and proper preparation for sleep.

Reduce light indoors. As daylight hangs around longer, bringing rays into your living quarters deep into the evening, you need to consider darkening the inside environment of your home by dimming the inside lights about an hour before your desired sleep time. Blackout curtains are a good option if you’re willing to make the investment, but a sleep mask works to block out light as well. This will help mimic those times hundreds of years ago when we would sleep as soon as darkness prevailed.

Avoid screen time before bed. Much like you need to dim the lights in a room before bed, it’s important to avoid light exposure from electronic screens. Electronic devices emit blue light, which can trick your body into thinking it’s daytime. Switch them out for a relaxing wind-down ritual like reading a book or having a cup of tea.

Use breathable bedding. Bedding plays a crucial role in helping your body cool down enough to sleep. During the summer in particular it can be helpful to use a lighter blanket than during other times of the year. The type of material your sheets are made of can make a difference too–look for sheets derived from natural fibers, made from lightweight cotton or bamboo or those with moisture-wicking properties or microfiber.

Keep a consistent bedtime routine. Although it can be tempting during the summer to change your routine for vacations or