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SLEEP APNEA

Sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea afflict millions around the world. As we age, our sleep pattern changes. Recent data suggests that either chronic sleep disorder or intermittent sleep deprivation are common conditions in the elderly.

Now, here is a bit of information on Sleep Apnea. A common but serious sleep disorder also known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), sleep apnea is characterized by prolonged, heavy snoring. The accompanying health issues which result from sleep apnea can far exceed the disturbance that snoring causes.

Research shows that sleep apnea can have far more serious consequences than just fatigue from disturbed sleep. A 2004 study found that men who suffer from OSA are five times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, regardless of their age, body mass index, and blood pressure or smoking habits.

People with sleep apnea actually stop breathing during their sleep, with each episode lasting a minute or longer. So part of the reason a person with Sleep Apnea feels fatigued during the day is because their body hasn’t been getting enough oxygen during sleeping hours.

The word “apnea” literally means “without breath,” and that’s a good way to describe how a significant percent of all middle-aged men and women in North America spend their nights.

The most common Sleep Apnea treatment is called nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in which a device supplies a stream of air through a small plastic mask secured over the nose. This is usually effective, but it’s somewhat cumbersome and can be hard to get used to.

However, there is evidence that some natural solutions for sleep apnea, can ease the condition through breath control without recourse to CPAP.

In addition to sleep apnea there are a few other sleep disorders which are far more common in older people than in the young:

* restless legs syndrome

* periodic limb movements disorder

* advanced sleep phase syndrom

However, it's important to remember that many healthy elderly individuals have no, or few, sleep problems. Nor is insomnia, trouble falling asleep at night, or frequent drowsing by day inevitable with increasing age.

What causes these changes in the sleep pattern?
Sleep is an active state with many different components in a neurological sense. In addition to the aging process, sleep can be disordered, either on account of disease or dysfunction of the nervous system, and/or of the mind.

Sleep may be disrupted by:
Changes in one's circadian rhythm (biological clock). Circadian rhythms are biological cycles of about 24 hours that include sleep/wake, body temperature and melatonin secretion cycles. The sleep/wake cycle is controlled by our biological clock. The average younger adult gets sleepy at around 10 or 11 PM and sleeps for 8 to 9 hours, waking between 6 to 8 AM. As we age, our circadian clock advances, causing advanced sleep phase syndrome. People with this syndrome get sleepy early in the evening (around 8 or 9 PM). If they were to go to bed at that time, they would sleep for about 8 hours and wake up 4 to 5 AM. However, when they try to stay up to 10-11 PM, their bodies still wake up at 4 to 5 AM. This means they only get 5-6 hours of sleep, the amount of time they were in bed before their advanced sleep -wake cycle wakes them up.

The elderly generally secrete lesser amounts of certain chemicals that regulate the sleep/wake cycle. Both melatonin (a substance produced by the pineal gland that promotes sleep and influences the sleep biological clock) and human growth hormone (HGH) production decrease with age. HGH, another hormone required for sound sleep, is an essential ingredient for maintenance of bone and muscle tissue as well as for cell growth. Production of these hormones takes place when the brain goes into certain theta and delta levels while in sleep. However, with aging, the brain achieves these brain patterns with less regularity, so normal production gets disrupted. .

Rise in levels of the stress hormone, cortisol , in the evenings, adds to the reduction in abilty to enter theta wave stage.

There are also changes in the body temperature cycle, which occur with age.

In addition, decrease in exposure to natural light and a change in diet may compound sleep difficulties. Bright, natural light is considered essential for proper functioning of the circadian rhythm.

Lack of exercise and decreased mental stimulation may also lead to sleep defiency.

Physical changes associated with aging may also play a role. Aches and pains may lengthen the time it takes to fall asleep...and interrupt sleep thereafter. An aging bladder leads to the need to use the bathroom more frequently at night.

Psychological conditions including stress, depression, anxiety, alcoholism or drug abuse can result in loss of sleep. All of these conditions can cause the brain to lose the ability to enter the slower brain wave patterns of restful sleep . These patterns are where your brain and endocrine system make the essential substances needed for youthful vitality and well-being. These (and other) situations can cause the brain to lose some or all of its natural plasticity - its natural ability to easily and effortlessly change and flow into the different patterns of electrical energy necessary for optimum sleep.

Snoring, (frequently a by-product of sleep apnea), can lead to disturbances in the sleep rhythm. But it is possible to control snoring naturally through breath control.

Sleep & Good Health

Sleep & Aging

Sleep Loss & Insomnia Solutions


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