Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sleep Disorders and Aging

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Feb 5, 2020 7:44:00 AM

Sleep disturbances are very common in older people.

Are you one of millions of seniors in the US who think life would be pretty good... if you could just get some sleep?

Changes in sleep patterns may be a normal part of aging, but many other factors common in older people contribute to sleep problems. These include physical illness or symptoms, medication side effects, changes in activity or social life, and death of a spouse or loved one. 

Sleep disorders decrease quality of life in older people by causing daytime sleepiness, tiredness, and lack of energy. Poor quality of sleep also can lead to confusion, difficulty concentrating, and poor performance on tasks. Sleep disorders also are linked with premature death. The biggest sleep problem in older people is a feeling of not getting enough sleep (insomnia) or not being rested.

  • Many take longer to fall asleep than they did when younger.
  • Elderly people actually get the same amount of sleep or only slightly less sleep than they got when younger, but they have to spend more time in bed to get that amount of sleep.
  • The sensation of insomnia often is due to frequent nighttime awakening. For example, older people tend to be more easily wakened by noises than younger people.
  • Daytime napping is another cause of nighttime wakefulness. Older people are more likely to be sleepy during the day than younger people, but too much sleepiness during the day is not part of normal aging.

Normal sleep has different stages that cycle throughout the night. Sleep specialists classify these as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep.

  • REM sleep is the stage in which muscles relax most completely. Dreaming occurs during REM sleep.
  • Non-REM sleep is subdivided into stages. Stages 1 and 2 constitute light sleep and stage 3 is called deep sleep. Deeper sleep generally is more refreshing.

Sleep changes with age. Older people are less efficient sleepers and have different patterns of sleep than younger people.

  • The duration of REM sleep decreases somewhat with aging.
  • The duration of stage 1 sleep increases, as does the number of shifts into stage 1 sleep. Stages 3 decreases markedly with age in most people, especially men. In people aged 90 years or more, stage 3 may disappear completely.

Among older people, women are more likely to have insomnia than men. More than half of people older than 64 years have a sleep disorder. The rate is higher among long-term care facility residents.

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Topics: alaska sleep clinic, sleep disorders, seniors

5 Most Effective Central Sleep Apnea Treatments

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Jan 18, 2020 1:10:00 AM

Unlike sleep disorders that are easier to diagnose and understand, central sleep apnea (CSA) can be baffling.

CSA patients might not snore, may be at their ideal weight, and may have not had a history of sleep disorders yet still find themselves with the condition characterized by pauses in breathing many times during the night.

Central sleep apnea is a neurological condition—in other words, the brain is not sending the correct signals to the respiratory system to keep breathing while the patient sleeps. Sometimes another medical condition causes CSA; sometimes, pain medication can lead to it; and sometimes, the apnea occurs for no known reason.

Whatever the cause, treatments are available for central sleep apnea. Here five of the most effective ways to help the CSA patient:

Central Sleep Apnea Treatments

  1. Treating the medical condition that is also causing central sleep apnea. Congestive heart failure or the aftermath of a stroke can interfere with night-time breathing and lead to CSA. The solution here is simple: Treat the heart failure or the stroke and the apnea will likely subside.
  2. Cutting back or eliminating the use of opiods. Studies have proved that more powerful pain medications such as morphine, codeine and oxycodone can cause central sleep apnea. Reducing the dosage or not taking them altogether can help, but discussing this option with your doctor and with a sleep specialist is important. Pain medications do just that—help with pain, and trying to fix the apnea might not be worth additional suffering when you are awake.
  3. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). More commonly associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a CPAP device can also help CSA sufferers, particularly those who are recovering from heart failure. With this treatment, the patient wears a mask that continuously delivers a constant pressure of air to the lungs, thus countering any inclination the body might have to pause breathing.
  4. Bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP). This is another treatment used for OSA sufferers that can be effective for central sleep apnea patients. Similar to a CPAP mask, a BPAP device adjusts the amount of air delivered to the lungs depending on whether the patient is inhaling or exhaling.
  5. Adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV). Yet another device that uses a mask, ASV goes one step further by continuously detecting and adjusting to the patient’s breathing needs and delivering the correct amount of oxygen. If the user is breathing fine, the device reduces the air it provides. It the patient’s breathing begins to pause, ASV increases the oxygen.
  6. Phrenic Nerve Stimulation.  Phrenic Nerve Stimulation is a new FDA-approved therapy for moderate to severe central sleep apnea in adult patients.  Phrenic nerve stimulation is delivered by a pacemaker-like implantable device that stimulates a nerve in the chest (phrenic nerve) to send signals to the diaphragm to control breathing.  It monitors respiratory signals while you sleep and helps restore normal breathing patterns. Because the device is implantable and turns on automatically during sleep, it does not require wearing a mask.


    Phrenic nerve stimulation allows normal breathing to resume by stabilizing carbon dioxide, preventing apneic events and the subsequent period of rapid breathing.


     

    Of course, the most effective treatment will vary from patient to patient, so discussing these options with a sleep specialist is crucial in determining how best to alleviate central sleep apnea.

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Topics: obstructive sleep apnea, sleep disorders, CPAP, BPAP

Less Stress in 2020: Packing Made Easy

Posted by Stefanie Leiter on Jan 16, 2020 1:22:32 PM

Whether you are packing for a move or packing for a trip across state, packing is stressful. Traveling is even more stressful and with each packing trip, it can weigh on your mind creating problems in the bedroom.

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Topics: alaska sleep clinic, sleep disorders, travel, stress, managing stress

Eye Issues and Sleep Disorders

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Dec 15, 2019 6:15:00 AM


According to the
American Academy of Ophthalmology, there are ocular signs that an Ophthalmologist can see which could indicate that you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). 

As we know, OSA can be a deadly health disorder where during sleep your breathing stops periodically during the night. These lapses in breathing can occur for up to ten seconds or more and can happen hundreds of times a night. 

OSA appears to be an aggravating factor in the following 5 ocular complications:

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Topics: alaska sleep clinic, sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, sleep disorders

Veterans with Sleep Disorders: Finding a Preferred Provider

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Nov 11, 2019 3:00:00 PM

You may be wondering why you received a Veterans Choice Card in the mail.

On November 5, 2014 the Department of Military and Veterans affairs began implementation of the Veteran's Access, Choice, and Accountability Act (VACAA) of 2014. The program's goals are to help alleviate difficulties veterans have been having in finding adequate and expedient health care.

Problems veterans were experiencing included long wait times to receive care at VA owned medical facilities and difficulty traveling to these health facilities that were far from their home.

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Topics: sleep disorders

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