Sleephealthcare of Connecticut Just another WordPress site Mon, 27 Feb 2012 20:08:12 +0000 en hourly 1 Strategies for Sleepless Nights© Part II Thu, 09 Feb 2012 23:02:50 +0000 Edward OMalley PhD, FAASM Continue reading ]]> Last week I described the single most important action you can take to improve sleepless nights. Of course if that was the only requirement for a good night’s sleep, I wouldn’t be writing this blog and I would have plenty of free time. So let’s look at some of the other factors that can improve your chances for obtaining restful, uninterrupted sleep.

On the nightstand or somewhere near enough to reach without leaving your bed, have a bedside reading lamp (low wattage-no greater than 40 watts if possible). Even better would be an orange reading light, something about the color of my cat pumpkin seen in the picture above, sleeping peacefully in the bathroom sink. The reason for the color orange is that the latest circadian clock research suggests that the blue/green spectrum of light is what the body’s internal clock is most responsive to-and orange light is neutral. In fact, it has been suggested that people who are sensitive to circadian variations in their sleep/wake schedules should wear orange sunglasses after dusk and until bedtime. This allows the natural production of melatonin that is essential for sleep. It is also the reason for avoiding TV screens, smart phones, ipads, computers etc in the evening, especially near bedtime. This kind of blue light exposure is enough to tell your brain it’s still daytime, suppress melatonin production and delay sleep onset.

Along with the reading light you should have available a few “fluff” magazines, throwaway journals, local weekly papers with human interest stories, children’s reading books with interesting but not challenging stories —nothing that is too engaging or emotional. The idea is to have light reading material with enough interest to distract you from worrying about your being awake when you’d rather be sleeping, yet not engaging enough to further activate your brain or begin the worry about sleeping cycle. Now once your bedside area is prepared, you’ve set the alarm and turned away the clock, it is time to turn out the light and allow yourself to fall asleep.

If and when you first awaken or don’t fall asleep, adjust your body position and attempt to return to sleep-don’t just lie there not moving a muscle-it doesn’t work-and in fact works against you by reducing blood flow secondary to immobility. Even during sleep bodies need to move, to readjust throughout the night for a variety of physiologically important reasons, and do so approximately every twenty minutes. Forcing inactivity in hopes of allowing sleep is counter-productive.

After 2-3 body adjustments without sleep initiation (approximately 15’ or so, no need to look at the clock!), then sit up and read for a bit. Hopefully you will begin to yawn or feel sleepy enough to reattempt to sleep. If not, continue to read for another 15’ or so (gauge the time by how much you’ve read-do NOT look at the clock) and if still not feeling sleepy enough to return to sleep get up and move to another location.

Ideally this other location would be located in your bedroom. An armchair, recliner or some place to sit and read is all that is necessary. The area should be designed similarly to your bedside table-with different books or magazines to select. If you find yourself becoming more agitated then these reading materials need to be more interesting, more appealing so that you will likely be distracted from your sleep concerns. If necessary, or if you don’t have room in your bedroom for this station, leave the bedroom and go to somewhere else in your home that is conducive to sleep. Again, this new area needs to be previously prepared so that you are not looking for something to do which will be further activating and self-defeating. Finally, this area needs to be as close to the bedroom as possible to minimize fully awakening the body.

Once in this new location the plan is the same—read until drowsy, or yawning, or at least less “awake” than when you first awoke. Once this occurs return to your bed and allow sleep to emerge.

And yes, when I experience the occasional restless night I follow my own advice–I don’t look at the clock, I readjust body position and read as needed. On very rare occasions I will arise and move to another locale until drowsy, then return to bed. I also adhere to the last of my “Strategies for Sleepless Nights©” which you will see in Part III, next week.

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Strategies for Sleepless Nights© – Part I Fri, 27 Jan 2012 17:07:40 +0000 Edward OMalley PhD, FAASM Continue reading ]]> Probably the most important strategy to implement is discussed here in the first few lines. This idea is central enough to the success of all the other tactics that I want to spend some time discussing this approach and the underlying concepts.

Turn away your clock and set the alarm. It will wake you when it is morning–otherwise you are to attempt to return to sleep unless you hear the alarm–never look at the time! If you do awaken, assume it is always the middle of the night–turn over and attempt to fall back asleep.

The reason for this is straightforward, but not simple. When you awaken from sleep your conscious mind is generally off-line, hence unconscious processes become activated. While your conscious mind “knows” not to check the clock, your unconscious mind begins to assess the situation and respond to it. First, you will quickly glance at the clock to check the time, but what you may not realize is that whatever the time, the physiological end result, brain activation, is the same. Let me explain using myself as an example.

If it is still early in the night when I first awaken, then I’m disappointed that I’ve only slept a short time. I begin to become more conscious as I try to decide what to do next to facilitate sleep, if I’ll be able to return to sleep, will it be one of “those” nights and on and on. If it is the middle of the night I quickly realize I have less time left to sleep, and then will I be able to return to sleep. Not to mention this is the third night this week and I have this big project that’s due in two days and I won’t be sharp enough to put it together on so little sleep, etc, etc. And if it’s just before wake/alarm time, the decision process erupts into a full-blown internal discussion: do I try and sleep until the alarm (next to impossible because my mind is already generating today’s to-do list) or do I just get up and forego the last hour of much-needed sleep (the usual response). Unfortunately, sleep is lost in any event and this exacerbates the problem of a chronically sleep-deprived nation.

One more point worth noting here. Remember I indicated above that when one first awakens from sleep the conscious mind is off-line. If you have the clock in an easily accessible location, you will undoubtedly, unconsciously, reach over and turn the clock back around to check the time—even knowing how detrimental this will be to the rest of your sleep that night. Again, this is because you literally are not “all there” so to speak. So my advice is to place the clock where you will still hear the alarm in the morning but will not readily see it—in the nightstand drawer, under the bed etc. Once you’ve broken the habit you can then move the clock back but still leave it turned away!

Now, of course, I follow my own advice and never look at the clock. I also adhere to the rest of my “Strategies for Sleepless Nights©” more of which you will see in Part II, next week.

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A New CPAP Alternative Tue, 02 Aug 2011 16:58:34 +0000 Edward OMalley PhD, FAASM Continue reading ]]> There is a new device available that will definitely appeal to frustrated, or failed CPAP users, called Provent. The appliance has been shown to be effective for positional sleep apnea, that is, for sufferers who have worse apnea on their backs, although patients with any level of obstructive sleep apnea may benefit. While it does take some getting used to, most users find it an acceptable alternative to CPAP for travel, dating and even for long-term use.

The appliance is described as a disposable nasal valve that fits over the opening of the nostrils (see illustration above), affixed with hypoallergenic adhesive. It works by providing back pressure on exhalation, opening the airway to allow normal breathing during sleep. Patients report that it takes some practice to adjust to the special breathing pattern necessary for use. The company offers 10-day starter packs to allow an adequate trial period.

Of note, the device needs to be prescribed by a physician and as of this writing may not be reimbursed by insurance. The typical cost is approximately two to three dollars per night.

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Snoring is No Joke Tue, 26 Jul 2011 18:53:42 +0000 Joel Papowitz MD Continue reading ]]> Earlier today we posted an article on our Facebook page where we often share information about sleep research, trends and issues. Today’s post was from a Canadian publication that offered some medical/scientific information about serious sleep disorders – like sleep apnea – behind the phenomenon of snoring.

The article focused primarily on the difficulty people – including celebrities – have adjusting to the snoring of their bed partners, sometimes just sleeping in separate rooms. It even mentioned a trend in upscale homes and hotels to build “snoratoriums” – rooms lined with sound absorption materials to try to minimize the sound of snoring.

The article also reviewed an array of devices and other ‘solutions’ for snoring that may or may not work. Overall, the article might give the impression that there is a lot of “benign” snoring around. But, I’d bet that with proper testing it probably isn’t so benign. There are many health issues proven or suspected to be tied to snoring – whether from sleep apnea or not. For example, there is new evidence indicating that strokes, hypertension and other cardiovascular consequences are associated with snoring.

While the disturbance to partners from snoring is often discussed in terms of bedroom humor, we sleep medicine professionals know that it’s no laughing matter. Men and women, if you snore to the extent that you’re keeping your partner awake night after night, get yourself tested either at a sleep lab or at home using a portable device.

Once you understand the cause of your snoring, there are a number of excellent new drug-free and non invasive treatments available that actually work. Do your health and your relationships a big favor!

You can read the whole article on our Facebook page. By hitting ‘Like’ while you’re there, you’ll see the latest information about sleep in your Facebook news and get early information about our free monthly Sleep Seminar Series.

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Good News for Sleep Apnea Patients on CPAP Therapy Fri, 15 Jul 2011 14:35:50 +0000 Joel Papowitz MD Continue reading ]]> Many of the patients we see have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and have had a great deal of difficulty adjusting to CPAP therapy. In fact, many of them had given up trying to use their equipment and their devices ended up in the closet.

That is not a good set of circumstances. Sleep Apnea poses serious health threats – far beyond interrupted sleep.

The reason we founded Sleep HealthCare of Connecticut is because most sleep disorders are chronic problems that have been treated like acute problems in the past. In addition, we have kept up with the latest technology that is making a difference for all sleep disorder patients.

As for sleep apnea patients, many don’t know that the there are other alternatives to the mask they were originally fitted for that they can’t adjust to. There are also a number of other equipment advances that make getting used to CPAP easier.

For those who experience CPAP as uncomfortable, claustrophobic or anxiety-producing, we have amazing new treatments like neurofeedback and biobehavioral management techniques that train you to relax and focus on the positive benefits of your CPAP therapy.

To introduce sleep apnea patients to the new technologies and treatments that they can take advantage of, we’re launching a free monthly Sleep Support Series. Beginning on Tuesday evening, July 19th from 6:30 to 7:30 here at our offices (1305 Post Road (Brick Walk), Suite 305 in Fairfield, we’ll be demonstrating new technology, talking about CPAP issues and answering your questions.

Every other month we’ll be focusing on CPAP, so if you can’t make the first seminar, sign up for the next one. Email us or call the office 203-292-2800.

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Welcome to the Sleep HealthCare Blog! Fri, 03 Jun 2011 16:56:58 +0000 Joel Papowitz MD Continue reading ]]> We hope you’ll become part of our community dedicated to sleeping better for improved health and wellbeing. If you or someone you care about is struggling with insomnia, sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, this will be your go-to resource for information about the latest advances in sleep medicine – particularly drug-free treatments.

We’ll give you our professional assessment of sleep issues and treatments. And we welcome you to comment and share your experiences. Also please feel free to ask questions or suggest topics for posts.

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