Do you know the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

Posted by DrJelinek | Filed under , ,

Snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Snoring alone can be disruptive and a nuisance. Snoring + sleep apnea can be life threatening. 

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep breathing disorder that temporarily causes breathing to be suspended during sleep. A physical obstruction happens in the airway which limits the amount of oxygen needed to reach the lungs. In the process of attempting to breathe again due to the obstruction, loud snoring or choking noises are heard. 

The oxygen deprivation momentarily awakens a person from sleep. The cycle of waking and falling back to sleep is repeated a few times or hundreds of times throughout the night. The lack of oxygen can have long-term damaging effects such as the development of: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, pre-diabetes and diabetes and depression.

The airway obstruction is actually collapsing tissue in the back of the throat. This can be a result of the muscles of the upper airway relaxing during sleep. In “back sleepers” gravity can sometimes cause the tongue to fall back and obstruct the airway as well. In both situations the airway is narrowed or completely obstructed. 

Snoring happens when the extra tissue in the back of the throat vibrates during the flow of breathing which produces the sounds of snoring. It is estimated that about 50% of people snore at some point during their lives. Snoring can be heredity and can increase as age advances. Occasional congestion from cold or allergies may also cause snoring.

Many people with sleep apnea suffer from issues of chronic fatigue, lack of concentration or focus. These are due to “unrestful” sleep resulting from the body unconsciously and repeatedly being awakened during the night because of the struggle for oxygen.  

If you are unsure if the snoring you hear from a loved one is sleep apnea, look for correlating indicators such as excessive daytime sleepiness, gasping during sleep, pauses in breathing, morning headaches, difficulty concentrating, moodiness, irritability or depression and possibly frequent trips to the bathroom at night. 

Testing for a sleep breathing disorder is critical to getting a loved one on the path of better health. If you or someone you know experiences any of the other symptoms or indicators that may suggestion the play of sleep apnea, please contact us immediately for help. 

Remember that while snoring is annoying, sleep apnea is life threatening.

Sleep Wellness - Evaluating Sleep Hygiene

Posted by Administrator | Filed under , ,

Fall into Better Sleep Hygiene

If you are like most Americans, your smart phone has replaced your alarm clock as well as your calendar, MP3 player, camera, video camera, and address book. Your smart phone has become an extension of your office, making it impossible to turn off.  It is common for people to fall asleep with their phones beside them, while others may read in bed with a digital reader.  Many people enjoy falling asleep with the television on, and some even bring their laptops to bed.  If you recognize any of these habits as your own, you may be severely jeopardizing the quality of your nighttime sleep.

Sleep hygiene is made up of a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness. As we encourage testing for potential sleep apnea candidates, please also keep the following information in mind, when discussing and examining sleep health. Good sleep hygiene is important to your overall health and wellness.

           Here are some helpful tips to consider when improving sleep hygiene:

1.       Go to bed at the same time each night. 

2.       Wake up from bed at the same time each day. 

3.       Exercise regularly each day, preferably either in the morning or 3 hours before bedtime.

4.       Get regular exposure to the outdoors, or to bright lights, especially in the late afternoon.

5.       Keep the temperature in your bedroom on the cooler side, around 65 degrees.    .

6.       Keep the bedroom dark and quiet when sleeping. 

7.       Only use your bed for sleep and intimate time with your significant other. 

8.       Take medications as directed. It is helpful to take prescribed sleeping pills either 1 hour
before bedtime, so they are causing drowsiness when you lie down, or 10 hours before
getting up, to avoid daytime drowsiness. 

9.       Use a relaxation exercise, massage, or warm bath just before going to sleep.

10.   Keep your hands and feet warm.



           Here are the things NOT to do during your sleep routine:

1.       Exercise just before going to bed. 

2.        Take daytime naps, especially more than 30 minutes.

3.       Have caffeine in the evening.

4.       Read or watch television in bed. 

5.       Consume alcohol to help you sleep.

6.       Go to bed too hungry or too full.

7.       Take another person's sleeping pills without your doctor's knowledge.  
Diphenhydramine (an ingredient commonly found in over-the-counter sleep meds)
can have serious side effects for elderly patients.

8.       Engage in stimulating activity just before bed, such as playing a game or having an
important discussion with a loved one. 

9.       Force yourself to go to sleep. This only makes your mind and body more alert. 

Additional tip:
If you lie in bed awake for more than 20-30 minutes, get up, go to a different room and participate in a quiet activity (e.g. non-excitable reading or television). When you start to feel sleepy, return to bed and repeat this during the night as needed. 

If you are practicing these sleep hygiene tips and are still waking up feeling fatigued and/or groggy, there may be a bigger problem. You may be suffering from a sleep breathing disorder. The most common sleep breathing disorder is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA occurs when there is a physical obstruction in your airway. 

The sufferer is often unaware they have a problem since it happens during sleep, making OSA is a serious condition that should not be ignored.  Ask someone to observe you while you sleep.  This person may notice shallow breathing and possibly pauses in breath, which can look disturbing.  The breathing interruptions can last anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes, per breathing episode.  This causes the individual to get restless sleep and consequently feel extremely fatigued during the day.  


If you or someone you know may be at risk for a sleep breathing disorder, please call us today, to avoid this potentially life threatening disease.   

Sleep Apnea - A Silent Killer

Posted by DrJelinek | Filed under ,

When tragedy strikes, people across the country are left asking a similar question, “Could I have done anything to save my loved one?” Undoubtedly these thoughts reside with everyone at some point during the painful grieving process. Is there anything we can do?


This discussion is dedicated to all family and friends that have passed away from a silent killer known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is caused by a physical obstruction in the airway causing a person to stop breathing several times throughout the night. In examining and categorizing overall health, we began by turning to a popular television program familiar with sleep apnea and obesity as an American epidemic -- The Biggest Loser. The physicians working with this show succinctly organize health into four pillars: psychological well-being, healthy eating, healthy exercise, and sleep. When the fourth pillar (sleep) is not properly achieved, it severely impacts the success of the other three. Without the proper sleep, your psychological wellness, nutrition, and exercise don’t stand a chance. The reality is that we spend about one third of our life sleeping. Our bodies absolutely need that time of rest so we have the energy and focus to live healthy and balanced lives. If you suffer from even mild sleep apnea, your body is not attaining the ideal rest and rejuvenation it needs, leaving you fatigued all day long. Continuous feelings of exhaustion can trickle down to hormonal imbalance, which leads to poor nutritional choices and cravings, depression, and a lack of energy needed for sustaining exercise routines. With this information, it is easy to understand how a deficiency of proper sleep affects all your pillars of health, as outlined by the physicians of The Biggest Loser program.

One of the greatest dangers of sleep apnea is the physical strain it puts on your organs, specifically the heart. The medical description for normal and proper sleep is defined as “a decreased sympathetic activity which lowers heart rate and blood pressure creating a period of cardiac rest."  When your heart never experiences the rest it needs, extra stress is placed on the heart walls, which can lead to a fatal and life-threatening situation. It is well known that sleep apnea sufferers experience repeated pauses in breathing during sleep, causing multiple awakenings. Not as well known is that this lowers the saturation of oxygen in your blood and can result in high blood pressure and an increased risk of many heart-related diseases. In addition, sleep awakenings cause acute surges in blood pressure and heart rate, further increasing stress on the heart. 

With obstructive sleep apnea, the cardiac rest achieved in normal and proper sleep is not possible. This is the most alarming component of sleep apnea, since it may lead to many complications. If you have a loved one who experiences any sleep apnea symptoms such as snoring, gasping for air during sleep, daytime fatigue, or has already been diagnosed with sleep apnea but is possibly CPAP intolerant, please call our office immediately for a consultation with the doctor. Within a few minutes you could be on your way to helping a friend or family member and possibly even saving his/her life.