Oxygen + Sleep = Deep sleep

On national #FestivalOfSleepDay it is great to show how we can help improve sleep in our daily lives. Sleep is so important to every day function, health and wellbeing. After the craziness of all the recent festivities its time to sit back and make sure we get all the ‘shut eye’ we need.

For those that have medical conditions such as asthma, COPD or parkinson’s night-time problems can be common and affect people at different stages but the main problem is sleep deprivation causing serious consequences on your physical health.

Exposure to high levels of oxygen encourages the brain to remain in deep, restorative sleep, according to a new study by University of Alberta neuroscientists. The research highlights the potential for oxygen therapy for humans in a clinical setting.

“Oxygen therapy could be used to enhance slow-wave states during sleep to ensure that individuals who may have disrupted sleep are getting enough of the restorative, slow-wave sleep,” said Dickson. “Of course, this has to be tested first before it could become a therapeutic reality.”

The study was published in the Journal of Neurophysiology.

#FestivalOfSleepDay helps promote getting that extra bit of sleep you need, make sure you rest and relax and wind down in the evenings after work. If at home make sure you are comfortable, even going to bed earlier helps get some extra snooze. With more sleep we can function much better giving our bodies the rest it needs especially if we have respiratory conditions.

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Sleep is so important

In a recent journal by SciTechnol explains how expensive measuring respiratory flow is and how a more practical method would be to use a non-contact mcirophone for audio signal recordings taken from a sleep lab or at home to help improve sleep quality.

Sleep is so important for all of us to funtion correctly, mentally and efficiently for our health and well-being. The amount of sleep a person requires differs from one person to another; most adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well rested.
It is important that each and every one of us maintain a healthy sleep pattern. Stress, anxiety, diet and fluids all play their role in which could really affect our sleeping habits.
references and image credit: Journal of Sleep Disorders: Treatment & Care

Asthma can reduce your productivity

A new survey has shown that 75% of people who suffer with asthma blame their illness for a significant reduction in productivity at work and asthma patients on average miss 3 hours of work a week due to their illness. The survey also showed how patients are also feeling that they have a lack of productivity when it comes to household chores and daily activities as well as at work.
All 1,598 patients surveyed were taking their prescribed medications and were from various countries. 74% reported issues around productivity at work and also 3 hours of work missed a week. 9% reported a complete inability to work and 67% reported sleep disturbances.
The survey was conducted by the Think.Act.Breathe campaign who help asthma patients identify personal risk and improve immediate and long-term risk of asthma exacerbations.
Dr. Kevin Gruffydd-Jones, lead author of the report said the findings illustrate how asthma can impact a patient’s economic burden, even while on medication.
“People with asthma often accept their symptoms and the impact they have on their daily lives. It is important that people with asthma talk to their doctor about how their asthma is affecting them at work, their sleep and daily life, and to discuss what more could be done to help them feel better and live life to the full.”
Asthma may cause physical and mental affects as well as the obvious physical ones and can have an impact on your whole life. Only 13% reported no impact on their work but 23% reported feeling tired and weak at work as well as 18% feeling mentally strained. 51% also stated that their symptoms had a negative impact upon their ability to complete daily chores outside of work.
“Asthma affects millions of people worldwide and most people with asthma have low expectations of what can be achieved by asthma management and don’t realise that their condition can be improved,” said Boehringer Ingelheim’s Head of Respiratory Medicine.
Many people get an initial diagnosis and treatment but never go back to the doctors for a check-up. However symptoms change and science moves forward and it is important to go back to your doctor regularly especially if symptoms lessen or worsen. New drugs, new treatment methods, breathing techniques and supplemental oxygen among other things could be available to you to help to improve your quality of life, reduce the frequency of exacerbations and lessen symptoms. Sleep disturbances could be due to sleep apnoea which could be eased with supplemental oxygen and a slight change to your treatment could greatly improve your oxygen levels, sleep and breathing which would greatly improve your productivity at work and at home.
References: http://lungdiseasenews.com


Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which is a set of symptoms that include memory loss and problems with thinking, problem-solving and language. It is a physical disease that affects the brain and proteins build up in the brain forming ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ around the nerves. Connection is then lost between the nerves cells and leads to the death of the nerve cells and loss of brain tissue. Patients with Alzheimers also have a shortage of important chemicals that help to transmit signals around the brain. The disease is progressive and as more of the nerve cells die and brain tissue is lost, the more severe the symptoms.
Sleep apnoea is a condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep and interrupts normal breathing patterns. During an episode the lack of oxygen triggers your brain to pull you out of your deep sleep so that your airway reopens and you can breathe normally. After falling back into a deep sleep again further episodes can occur even as frequently as every few minutes. Most patients snore loudly and have laboured and noisy breathing and is often interrupted by gasping and snorting. This repeated sleep interruption can make patients feel extremely tired during the day and suffer from reduced mental ability. However unless a partner or family member notices your symptoms whilst you sleep you may not know that you suffer from this condition and many people go undiagnosed.
Recent studies have shown that sleep apnoea may quicken memory decline and bring forward the onset of memory impairment conditions like Alzheimers by 10 years. The development and progression of Alzheimers may also be speeded up by sleep apnoea as well. These studies also revealed however that sleep apnoea patients that were being treated with supplemental oxygen overnight delayed the onset of memory impairment problems by as much as 10 years. Patients with sleep apnoea who were being treated declined at the same rate as volunteers who did not have sleep apnoea showing that being treated by oxygen counteracted the harm being done by the condition. It appears that the frequent drops in oxygen levels during episodes of untreated sleep apnoea have a major impact upon memory impairment and can directly lead to the early development of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Also during sleep is when the brain has time to remove harmful waste products, if sleep is disturbed then there is an accumulation of harmful proteins that block nerve cell function. Certain parts of the brain are more sensitive to drops in oxygen levels than others; certain neurons in the hippocampus (where Alzheimer’s is thought to start) is especially sensitive to drops in oxygen and sleep apnoea may ‘stress’ these neurons out.
There are currently no medications that can prevent the progression of mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia so treating at-risk patients with CPAP (oxygen treatment for sleep apnoea) is a prevention method that is worth trialling and testing. Previous research has already shown that CPAP treatment and supplemental oxygen at night slows and improves cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and increases brain tissue and now this more recent research backs up these findings. Hopefully soon there will be trials to prove whether supplemental oxygen at night could be the next new treatment for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients or even those who are at risk.
References: www.nbcnews.com, www.alzforum.org, www.alzheimers.org.uk and www.nhs.uk

How to get a better nights sleep

Sleep is fundamental to our health, a good night’s sleep helps us to think quickly, focus on tasks, gives us energy, we perform better, it is good for our heart, our moods and helps to maintain a healthy weight.
However when you suffer from a medical condition like COPD it can make sleeping difficult, which is even more important as not enough sleep can weaken the immune system, make you more vulnerable to infections and prevent the body from self-healing. This can result in daytime sleepiness and your health deteriorating, as it can prevent you from getting the exercise you need to help strengthen your heart and lungs.
Oxygen levels are already low in people with COPD and drop even lower at night. Your brain responds by waking you up periodically to catch your breath—preventing you from entering the critical, restorative phases of deep sleep that you need.
Common causes of sleep problems with COPD:

  • Sleep position: Many people with COPD find breathing more difficult lying down and try to sleep in a more upright position but sittung up makes it hard to fall asleep and to stay asleep.
  • Medications: Some prescribed drugs for COPD can keep you awake and others result in frequent bathroom trips which can disrupt your sleep.
  • Mental Health: COPD patients are prone to an increased risk of anxiety and depression which can lead to sleep problems.
  • Sleep-related breathing changes: When healthy people go to sleep your breathing slows and becomes less responsive to stimuli, however if you have COPD this can cause sleep disturbances.
  • Sleep Apnea: 10-15% of COPD patients also suffer from sleep apnea where your breathing is interrupted when you sleep. Sleep apnea can cause snoring, frequent awakenings and daytime sleepiness.
  • Acid reflux: More than half of COPD patients have acid reflux which can result in heartburn, causing you to wake up at night.

Tips for better sleep:

  • Adjust COPD medications: Your doctor may be able to adjust your medications so that you will sleep better.
  • Add oxygen therapy: Night-time oxygen treatment can sometimes make it easier for you to sleep. Equipment can be obtained via the NHS with a doctor’s prescription or through private companies.
  • Treat underlying infections: If you have an underlying problem, such as a respiratory infection, that is making it difficult for you to sleep, getting treatment can improve your rest.
  • Try sleep medications: Your doctor may prescribe a sleep medication that will help you sleep better.
  • Practice airway clearance techniques: Your doctor can teach you airway clearance techniques that may help you sleep better.
  • Use CPAP if you have obstructive sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices deliver a steady stream of air through a nasal mask you wear overnight.

General tips for anyone trying to sleep:

  • Reserve your bed for just sleeping and avoid watching TV, reading, or just lying awake in your bed.
  • Get out of bed if you are not able to fall asleep within 20 minutes and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy enough to go to sleep.
  • Avoid napping so that you will be sleepy at bedtime.
  • Get regular exercise, but not in the two hours before bedtime.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool.
  • Don’t drink caffeine in the five hours before you go to bed.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking around the same time each day.

References: www.everydayhealth.com and http://www.healthcommunities.com

How to sleep better during the summer months

Many who suffer with respiratory disorders also find it difficult to sleep at night, often suffering from sleep apnoea and requiring oxygen at night. Extremes of temperatures can affect your sleep and your health.

Sleep apnoea is caused when the upper throat muscles relax too much during sleep, cutting off or restricting the airway. These episodes, which also cause the oxygen level in the blood to drop, last from 10 seconds to a minute or longer. The brain registers the lack of oxygen and the individual wakes up just enough to open the throat and begin breathing again, starting the cycle over. Most of the time, individuals don’t remember these episodes in the morning, but they severely disrupt the restorative effects of sleep.
Being too hot or too cold can worsen the situation, resulting in disrupted sleep, low oxygen levels, worsening health conditions and drowsiness the following day. Many find using oxygen at night helps to maintain oxygen levels, minimises the frequency of waking up and prevents your respiratory problems from worsening, but if you’re too hot during the summer months you still need to be able to sleep soundly as sleep provides you with so many rejuvenating and healing properties.
The most important factor is the ambient temperature in your bedroom, this needs to be slightly cool in order to help keep your body’s core temperature lower. Otherwise it puts the body clock out of sync and you wont sleep properly. It’s better for it to be a bit nippy as you get into bed as your body will generate heat during the night from metabolism and trying to maintain your body’s core temperature at the correct level.
If you’re lucky enough to have an AC unit then use it, however for the rest of us there are some ways that can help to make sure you get a good night’s sleep.
1) Pillows
The head is the hottest part of the body so you want to keep it as cool as possible. Conventional pillows surround your head, trapping in the heat. A smaller, firmer pillow, although less comfy will allow more air circulation.
2) Fans
You can make a cheap version of an AC unit using these three simple household items – an electric fan, a large mixing bowl and some ice cubes. Place the ice cubes in the bowl, in the path of the airflow coming from the fan. The warm air causes the ice to melt, dispersing a cool breeze around the room.
3) Sleep like a Pharaoh
The so-called Egyptian method requires either a bed sheet or a towel large enough to cover your body. Soak the sheet in water, then put it in the washing machine on spin cycle -or just wring it out to stop any dripping. When you go to sleep, cover yourself with the damp sheet. This will keep you cool via latent heat, the same process that sweating uses to cool your body down.
4) Keep the sun out
The sun’s rays are far more powerful in the summer and keeping the blinds down stops the rooms heating up during the day.
5) Change what you eat
Usually when it;s hot you don’t feel like eating big meals anyway but remember that the larger the meal, the more metabolic heat you generate as your body breaks down the food. Try switching to salads, fruits and vegetables that the body can metabolise with less effort. If you cook a lot at home, switching to more raw foods will also mean less cooking, which means less heat being generated inside the house.
6) Location
You could try sleeping in a hammock, as being suspended in mid-air means that air flows all around your body, unlike a mattress which absorbs and reflects your body heat. Lower storeys are generally cooler than upper ones as heat rises. Finally, if all else fails, there’s always outdoors.
If you do use oxygen at night ensure there is air flow in the room and maybe use a dehumidifier, as the equipment may be generating heat while you are trying to sleep. Also check with your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping as they may adjust your oxygen flow rate settings if needed.
References: http://sleepjunkies.com and www.sleepapnea.com

Sleep is important for your health

Those who suffer with COPD or other respiratory diseases may find it difficult trying to get a full night’s sleep. It is even more important for COPD sufferers than non-affected individuals to try and get a proper night’s sleep as your body tires easily during the day from trying to complete basic daily tasks and activities let alone if you are tired from not having slept the night before. A good night’s sleep will enable your body to have more energy so that you can socialize, perform normal daily tasks, breathe better and have an improved quality of life. In the summer months it can be particularly more difficult to try and sleep with the warm humid nights and external noises. However it is in these months that many people want to go out and do more activities to enjoy the good weather, so getting a full night’s sleep in the summer is particularly important.

sleepThere are also long term health benefits of sleeping, a lack of sleep has been linked to obesity and diabetes but also now research has shown that a lack of sleep can affect your long-term mental health and can cause memory problems and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
A study in mice has shown that even brief periods of sleep deprivation can disrupt the chemical pathways in an area of the brain called the Hippocampus and affect the levels of certain enzymes and molecules, which resulted in a decrease of memory function.
Researchers from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health have linked disturbed sleep to cognitive impairment in older individuals. Their study suggested that reduced sleep and poor sleep quality may be linked to an increased build-up of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of older adults, which is a major sign of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). AD is the most common form of dementia and almost half of older adults with the disorder report insomnia-based symptoms.
These studies suggest that whether you are young or old it is important to get a decent period of undisturbed sleep each night to prevent any imbalances/build-up of certain molecules within your brain, which long-term can potentially lead to a variety of mental disorders from memory impairment to Dementia.
Tips to help you sleep:
1.    Talk to your GP about whether you need oxygen at night or how best to use/monitor your current night time oxygen prescription. If your oxygen levels remain stable through the night you will awaken less often.
2.    Some people find that using oxygen at night to be awkward or noisy but there is newer technology that is a lot quieter and more user friendly-it may be that you can talk to your oxygen machine supplier and get yourself an upgrade.
3.    Also talk to your GP if you think that you may suffer from Sleep Apnea. Ask about CPAP or another non-invasive, positive-pressure ventilation. This can help improve oxygen saturation levels during the day and night.
4.    Try to clear your airways during the day so they are clear at bedtime. To do so, try coughing or huffing (take a breath in and forcefully exhale, like “huffing” onto a mirror/window to steam it up). Huffing is not as forceful as a cough but it can work better and be less tiring.
5.    Don’t forget to review your medications with your GP, as some may cause side effects that can keep you up at night.
6.    Practice pursed-lip breathing while lying in bed to help you relax and drift to sleep.
Some other more generic tips:
1.    Keep your bedroom cool, dark and cozy. Without distractions, you can fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
2.    Do not use your bed for working, chatting on the phone or watching television. Use it only for sleeping.
3.    Avoid caffeine after lunchtime.
4.    Wear loose, comfortable clothing to bed.
5.    Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, even weekends. When your body has a sleep cycle to rely on, rest comes more naturally.
References: www.domorewithoxygen.com and www.nursingtimes.net and www.medicalnewstoday.com