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Alaska Sleep Education Center

Jennifer Hines

Jennifer and her husband Micah moved their family, including their daughters Madison (12) and Willow (6) from Little Rock, Arkansas to Anchorage in July 2017. Jennifer co-hosted a classic rock morning radio show for 10 years and a CMA winning country morning radio show for 6 in Arkansas. She was born and raised in Morrilton, Arkansas and was top ten at the Miss Arkansas Pageant in 1997. Jennifer graduated from The University of Central Arkansas in Conway, with a Major in Telecommunications and a Minor in Music. Now, Jennifer is the Lead Marketer for Alaska Sleep Clinic, while her husband is a Lead technician. Her family loves Alaska and is grateful for the adventure and opportunity.
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Restructure your day to get a better night's sleep

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Oct 13, 2019 3:44:00 PM

Consistency in your schedule may help restore patterns of sleep and waking so you can get needed rest.

 

Wake up at the same time every day. Waking time is the anchor for your circadian sleep rhythm.

The free time that accompanies your older years may allow you to keep any schedule you like: sleep late one day or wake up early the next. But that lack of structure can have a negative impact on your sleep.

Risks of inconsistent sleep

Even though it may feel like a luxury, an inconsistent sleep schedule can throw off your circadian rhythm, the body's way of regulating sleep and waking. "That can lead to insomnia," warns Dr. Dorsey, "but people don't realize that their schedule is causing the problem."

Let sleep problems go on too long, and you may experience the effects of sleep deprivation, such as changes in mood, thinking skills, and judgment. A lack of sleep can also lead to many health problems, such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Getting help

Rather than suffer with sleeping difficulties, talk to your doctor or go to a sleep specialist for help. Get a physical exam to make sure there isn't an underlying cause for your sleep problems.

If the cause is unclear, a sleep diary can help. Dr. Dorsey recommends recording the details of your sleep for two weeks. "Each morning, write down when you went to bed, estimate how long it took to fall asleep, count how many times you woke up in the night, and record when you finally woke in the morning. That baseline data will help you see patterns that may need to be changed," says Dr. Dorsey. But keep the diary out of the bedroom and just estimate the values the next morning. Try not to look at a clock if you are awake during the night. That can create anxiety that makes sleeping more difficult.

Get back on schedule

To get your circadian rhythm back on track, start by waking up at the same time every day. The wake time is most important to getting on a schedule again. "It's the anchor of your circadian sleep rhythm," says Dr. Dorsey. She recommends using an alarm clock, since it sets a boundary for you.

Make your bedtime about seven or eight hours before the alarm will sound. "But don't get into bed until your sleep time, and only if you're sleepy. Trying too hard to fall asleep will wake you up," says Dr. Dorsey. It helps to make a wind-down period part of your bedtime routine. That means stopping the use of all electronics an hour and a half before bed, keeping the lights low, and doing relaxing yet nonstimulating activities such as reading. "It's worth it to wind down before bed because physical, emotional, and cognitive relaxation helps you to fall asleep faster," says Dr. Dorsey.

Filling your day with more structure will also reinforce your circadian rhythm. Keep a regular schedule for meals, exercise, and activities such as grocery shopping, socializing, or housework. "Maintaining structure throughout your day can help you stick to your sleep schedule. Plus, routines are good for mood and can make you feel productive and vital," says Dr. Dorsey. "You don't have to be rigid about it. It's fine if you occasionally stay up late. Just try to get up at close to the same time every day."

The physical challenges of sleep in older years

An inconsistent sleep schedule isn't the only sleep challenge older adults face. "As we age, we lose our slow-wave, or deep, sleep," says Dr. Cynthia Dorsey, assistant professor of psychology in Harvard Medical School's psychiatry department. As a result, you may wake up feeling unrested.

On top of that, older adults may wake more in the night be-cause of discomfort from chronic illness, frequent trips to the bathroom, medication side effects, or sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or periodic limb movement disorder.

Treating the physical problems that are keeping you awake may be simple, such as switching medications if a drug side effect is causing sleep disturbances. If symptoms indicate that there's an underlying physical ailment—such as high blood pressure, an enlarged prostate (in men), or OSA—treatment may be more complicated, but will go a long way toward improving your sleep.

IF you live in Alaska, please call Alaska Sleep Clinic today to speak to one of our board-certified sleep specialists.

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Topics: sleep habits, sleep hygiene

Awake at 3 a.m.? Strategies to get back to sleep

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Oct 12, 2019 5:41:00 AM

Sleep-maintenance insomnia is common in mid-life. Changing your thoughts and behaviors can help.

It's 3:00 in the morning—far too early to get up for the day. But you can't get back to sleep because your mind keeps rehashing past and future worries—and fretting that you're going to be exhausted all day long. Sound familiar? Known as sleep-maintenance insomnia, this common problem often crops up in mid-life.

In the wee hours of the morning, the last thing you want to do is take a sleeping pill, since you probably need to get up in a few hours. In fact, experts now recommend a special type of short-term therapy as the first-line treatment for insomnia instead of drugs. Called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I, this therapy teaches people to change the unproductive thinking patterns and habits that get in the way of a good night's sleep. It's just as effective but safer than sleeping pills for both sleep-maintenance insomnia and trouble falling asleep at the start of the night (sleep-onset insomnia).

Rethinking your sleep habits

According to the Harvard Medical School Special Health Report Improving Sleep, edited by Dr. Lawrence Epstein, people with insomnia tend to become preoccupied with sleep and apprehensive about the consequences of poor sleep — a phenomenon dubbed "insomnia-phobia" by Harvard sleep specialist Dr. John Winkelman. In CBT-I, a therapist helps you replace negative thoughts (such as "I'll be so tired, I'll have a terrible day at work tomorrow!") with more positive ones ("My job does not depend on how much sleep I get tonight"). Typically, you meet with the therapist once a week for an hour, for six to eight weeks. He or she also provides structure and support while you practice new thoughts and habits, and teaches you other successful sleep strategies. For example, you should:

  • Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Reserve it for sleep, intimacy, and restful activities such as meditation and reading for pleasure. Keep it cool, dark, and quiet. To block out noises, use a fan or other appliance that produces a steady "white noise." Make sure your mattress is comfortable.
  • Set a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, which helps synchronize your sleep-wake cycle.
  • Limit awake-time in bed. If you don't get back to sleep within 20 minutes after waking up in the middle of the night, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy again.
  • Stay away from stimulants. Avoid caffeinated beverages (coffee, many teas, chocolate, and some soft drinks) after 1 or 2 p.m.—or altogether, if you're especially caffeine-sensitive.
  • Get regular exercise. Aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, or swimming can help you fall asleep faster, get more deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night.

How to access CBT-I

Many health insurance plans cover CBT-I, which falls under mental health coverage. However, not many therapists are trained in this special type of talk therapy. Even in the medical mecca of Boston, only a handful of clinicians offer CBT-I. Also, some people fail to complete all the required sessions or to practice the techniques on their own.

Internet-based programs might help address both problems. Several small studies suggest that online CBT-I programs can help insomniacs sleep better. In one such program, called SHUTi (Sleep Healthy Using the Internet), participants were about half as likely to wake up after falling asleep compared with a control group.

Another study documented at least mild improvements in about 80% of people who completed weeks of online CBT-I, with 35% reporting that their sleep was "much improved" or "very much improved."

IF you live in Alaska, please call Alaska Sleep Clinic to speak to one of our board-certified sleep specialists.

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Topics: insomnia, healthy sleep

Can’t sleep? You may be at risk for atrial fibrillation

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Oct 9, 2019 10:38:51 AM

 

If you have problems sleeping through the night, you may be at risk for atrial fibrillation (afib), an irregular heart rate that may cause heart palpitations and is a leading cause of stroke.

A study published online June 25, 2019, by HeartRhythm reviewed four studies and found a link between afib and poor sleep. In one study, people with afib had more frequent nighttime awakenings compared with those who did not have the condition. In the other studies, poor sleep quality, including frequent nighttime awakenings and less REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, predicted which individuals would develop afib.

It's not clear how poor sleep may be a possible risk factor for afib, but the researchers noted that other studies have shown that sleep apnea — a disorder in which your breathing repeatedly stops and restarts — is also associated with a higher risk of afib, although the exact reason is unknown.

They suggested people speak with their doctor about any sleep problems and try to practice better sleep hygiene — for instance by going to bed at the same time each night; creating a dark, cool sleeping environment; and avoiding caffeine and screen time before bedtime.

Which Comes First? The Stroke or The Sleep Apnea

According to this resource from the National Stroke Foundation, “Sleep apnea can be an after effect of stroke, but can also be the cause of a first time or recurrent stroke. The condition causes low oxygen levels and high blood pressure, both of which can increase the risk of a future stroke.”

Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of stroke in middle-aged and older adults, especially men, according to new results from a landmark study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health.

Overall, sleep apnea more than doubles the risk of stroke in men. Obstructive sleep apnea is a common disorder in which the upper airway is intermittently narrowed or blocked, disrupting sleep and breathing during sleep.

Who is Most Affected?

Researchers from the Sleep Heart Health Study (SHHS) report that the risk of stroke appears in men with mild sleep apnea and rises with the severity of sleep apnea. Men with moderate to severe sleep apnea were nearly three times more likely to have a stroke than men without sleep apnea or with mild sleep apnea. The risk from sleep apnea is independent of other risk factors such as weight, high blood pressure, race, smoking, and diabetes.

They also report for the first time a link between sleep apnea and increased risk of stroke in women. Obstructive Sleep Apnea Hypopnea and Incident Stroke: The Sleep Heart Health Study, was published online March 25 ahead of print in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide.  "Although scientists have uncovered several risk factors for stroke – such as age, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation, and diabetes – there are still many cases in which the cause or contributing factors are unknown," noted Susan B. Shurin, M.D. "This is the largest study to date to link sleep apnea with an increased risk of stroke. The time is right for researchers to study whether treating sleep apnea could prevent or delay stroke in some individuals."

In the latest report, researchers studied stroke risk in 5,422 participants aged 40 years and older without a history of stroke. At the start of the study, participants performed a standard at-home sleep test, which determined whether they had sleep apnea and, if so, the severity of the sleep apnea. 

Researchers followed the participants for an average of about nine years. 

After adjusting for several cardiovascular risk factors, the researchers found that the effect of sleep apnea on stroke risk was stronger in men than in women. In men, a progressive increase in stroke risk was observed as sleep apnea severity increased moderate to severe levels. In women, however, the increased risk of stroke was significant only with severe levels of sleep apnea.

What to Do Now

The connection sleep has to your health and/or deterioration of it becomes more obvious every day.  Only by correctly diagnosing and treating your sleep apnea can you improve your overall health and life.  IF you live in Alaska, please call Alaska Sleep Clinic today to speak to one of our board-certified sleep specialists.

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Topics: stroke risks, healthy sleep

Women with Sleep Apnea: Why Women are Less Often Diagnosed with OSA

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Oct 4, 2019 12:04:00 PM

When we think about the typical sleep apnea patient, we often picture a heavyset man over forty years old with a thick neck and an earth-rattling snore. And while this image often does fit the profile of a sleep apnea patient, it by no means represents a complete picture of the demographic of sleep apnea sufferers.

Contrary to popular belief, sleep apnea patients come in all shapes, sizes, races, genders, and can even have symptoms atypical of those common for sleep apnea. For instance, not all sleep apnea sufferers snore, many are not obese or even overweight, and not all of them are male.

Here we discuss the prevalence of sleep apnea in women and why they are often an under-diagnosed and under-served population suffering from this sleep disorder.

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Topics: board-certified sleep specialists, Women and sleep

Why am I So Tired All The Time, Even After A Full Night's Sleep?

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Sep 30, 2019 4:59:00 AM

Do you often go through the day feeling sleepy, sluggish, and lethargic, even after a full night's rest? While it's common to occasionally feel dead tired during the day, persistent symptoms of daytime drowsiness could be linked to your sleep and health habits.

There are a couple of possible reasons why you may be experiencing daytime drowsiness, and we want to help you better understand what you can do to start feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed everyday.

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Topics: Sleep Tips, tired

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