Happy New Year! Having a hard time choosing a New Year’s resolution? Do you want it to be related to your better health and well being? Think sleep, an activity in which we spend one third of our life. Make the most of it!
If you have chronic sleep issues, problems falling asleep, staying asleep, snoring and gasping for air in the middle of the night, falling asleep during the day at inappropriate times, legs that won’t stay still when you retire for sleep at night, take the plunge and make an appointment with a sleep specialist. You can deal with anything if you know what it is! A proper evaluation of your sleep issues are in order, do it this year. Commit to an overnight sleep study to positively diagnose or rule out a sleep disorder.
Ask your primary care physician to refer you to a sleep specialist. Here is a link to a list of sleep centers accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. http://www.sleepcenters.org/ Click on your state to find a sleep lab near you and note they list names of sleep doctors associated with the sleep centers.
We are all concerned about the increased cost of living, but our health should be a top priority. If you suspect sleep apnea, consider less expensive sleep home testing such as those provided by companies like Instant Diagnostic Systems
In our struggling economy, many of us have lost jobs, health insurance or are simply watching every penny. Sleep deprivation reeks havoc on our bodies. If you are among the millions looking for a job, your sleep health is of vital importance. In addition to working on your resume, and lining up job interviews, remember that first impressions are key! When you go on that interview, you want to be well rested and alert.
If you have a diagnosed sleep disorder, commit to improving your treatment. If you are struggling with prescribed medication or equipment issues, take the responsibility to follow up with your sleep doctor or home health provider. They can’t help you if you do not follow up and report your issues. Resolution may be as simple as a medication or dose change; an adjustment to CPAP pressure or enabling a machine comfort feature.
Be proactive. Make this year one that includes a positive attitude! Henry Ford said, “whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re probably right”. If you are struggling, seek help from your medical team. They are there to help but cannot do so unless you keep them in the loop. Remember, YOU are a part of that team! Do YOUR part!
Participate in the free services available at our website www.talkaboutsleep.com. Our weekly chats and 24-7 message boards are a great way to learn and receive patient to patient support! Join in, we are here for you!
Once diagnosed, many patients with narcolepsy or hypersomnolence don’t often return to their sleep doctors. They fall in to a routine of simply having medication prescriptions renewed. Finding the right medication regime which is often a combination of meds, can be a frustrating experience of trial and error. When cataplexy is involved, complications and treatment options increase.
The manifestation of sleep deprivation from fragmented sleep often causes depression. Living in automatic behavior mode is a hard life and difficult to experience alone. Commit this year to increasing your support team system. Include family and friends. Educate them on your sleep disorder so they can better understand what it is like to walk in your shoes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Commit to better communication with your prescribing physician and keep them informed of how your medication regime is working. Changes may be in order that might prove helpful, but if you do not keep your physician up to date with routine office visits, you will be stuck in your status quo. Take different support team members with you to these doctor visits. This will help in their education process and help you feel less alone!
Take advantage of the free online support offered here at TalkAboutSleep via our live online chats and active message boards. You are NOT alone!
Sleep apnea is a life threatening sleep disorder. Whether you are a successful CPAP user or still struggling to make CPAP work, when is the last time you had a follow up appointment with your sleep doctor to discuss your sleep health? Don’t be one of those people who receives the diagnosis and never sees your sleep doctor again. If you had a heart attack or heart condition, you would have an annual checkup with your cardiologist. Think of your apnea condition in the same way. Keep an open line of communication with your sleep doctor who should be made aware of your successes as well as your struggles. If you have not been pleased with the care and communication you receive from your sleep doctor, don’t use that as an excuse! For most of us, sleep apnea is for life; find a new sleep doctor that you feel comfortable with. Remember too that your prescribed equipment is expensive, take good care of it!
Make an appointment with your sleep doctor to discuss your progress and struggles. It is common to need pressure changes over the years. The clues can be subtle but your physician can help determine if this is in order for you. Keep your doctor informed about the customer service you receive from your home healthcare provider. Home healthcare is only as good as the people who work there. If they do not provide excellence in patient education and support, if they are not willing to take time to help resolve your CPAP compliance issues, your doctor should be made aware!
Make an appointment with your local home healthcare provider. Take your CPAP in to be checked with a manometer to confirm it is delivering the accurate pressure it was set at as prescribed by your doctor. Have them check your heated humidifier to confirm the heater plate and temperature controls are working properly. The life of a CPAP machine is about 3-5 years. You wouldn’t drive your car without changing the oil regularly. Due diligence with your CPAP equipment will assure you get the most out of it!
Ask your home healthcare provider to thoroughly discuss all of the comfort features available on your machine. Many are patient controlled, yet many people are not even aware of them. Make sure these features are enabled for your use if needed and learn how to set these controls.
Change your machine filters regularly, they are inexpensive and will add to the life of your machine.
Buy new tubing and insulated tubing cover annually or more often if needed.
Replace the water chamber for your CPAP humidifier if cloudy or as needed.
If you don’t have a heated CPAP humidifier, ask your doctor to prescribe one! It makes for a much more pleasant CPAP experience 365 days a year and resolves a lot of compliance issues.
Consider buying a PAPillow to further your comfort and increase CPAP compliance when side sleeping.
Don’t risk missing a night of CPAP therapy due to a cold or nasal congestion; buy a full face mask to be prepared.
A mask that worked and now leaks needs replacing! Sensitive masks cushions wear out in about 3-6 months.
Contact your sleep doctor immediately when apnea symptoms reappear such as snoring, gasping, morning headaches, waking up unrefreshed. This might indicate the need for a pressure adjustment. Ask your bed partner to keep you informed; they might notice night time events that you are not aware of!
When visiting your home healthcare provider, ask to be shown any new machines and masks that have become available since your last purchase. When the time comes for you to replace, you will be aware of newer and better products available to you.
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Chronic, transient or intermittent, there is nothing worse than having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Too many people self treat their insomnia without being properly evaluated and accurately diagnosed by a sleep specialist. Often, insomnia is a symptom of another sleep disorder altogether. Are you self treating for insomnia when it could be something else?
If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, commit to making an appointment with a sleep specialist to confirm Insomnia and be properly treated. You may discover an underlying medical issue that is causing your insomnia! Stop guessing, find out for sure!
If you do have insomnia, discuss CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) as a treatment option. It has proven to be a very positive and powerful treatment with or without the addition of sleep medication! If you are interested in weaning off sleep aids, CBT may very well be your answer!
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sleep disorder that unfortunately we don’t hear much about, although awareness is on the rise. A person may experience uncomfortable sensations in the legs or arms described as creeping, crawling, tingling, or even painful. These sensations can occur from the thigh to the ankle. Symptoms worsen during periods of relaxation and rest, so it can cause difficulty falling asleep when one retires to bed.
A diagnosis of RLS is generally done through a discussion of symptoms and medical history between patient and doctor. Although there is no definitive lab test, people with anemia or low iron levels are prone to have RLS and so Ferritin levels should be tested. Effective medications are available for treatment. Commit to seek an evaluation if you suspect that you have RLS.
My friend, business partner, sleep doctor and sleep apnea patient, Dr. James C. O’Brien, President of Talk About Sleep, reminds us all, “healthy sleep is essential for proper growth and well being. It is often taken for granted and considered to be a waste of time by those unaware of its restorative powers. Improper sleep can adversely effect your mood, weight, relationships, energy level, productivity and memory.” Make this year be one of conscious commitment to better sleep health.