Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Better sleep ideas from the Doctor....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 10-27-2015

I already follow many of the most effective methods to sleep better and get enough sleep.

And, because of those I have little trouble getting to sleep and don’t wake up fully during the night or even early as some people my age do.

I do get vigorous exercise early every morning.  (That’s extremely effective.)

I got extra curtains to make our bedroom darker.

I get up with the alarm the exact same time every weekday and make a strong effort to get to bed by 7 hours before that.

I switched my time to get up on Saturday and Sunday from 3 hours later than weekdays to just one hour later.

And, I take a chewable melatonin at bedtime.

It has been too hot in our bedroom which the fall is helping and may be better next summer.

But I have had surprisingly bad daytime sleepiness after lunch and after dinner.

Then I read that 50% of the people with high blood pressure which I have for other reasons also have some form of sleep apnea or other hidden sleep issues.  Further having daytime sleepiness was diagnostic for this.

Then I found there was a take home sleep test for this that I didn’t have to stay overnight at a sleep clinic to use.

Between the parts, I decided to have my regular doctor refer me to their sleep specialist.

I went last week; and it may be one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.

There are two reasons I’m doing a post on what I’ve found.

She was wizard good at what she does and told me two things worth sharing with you:

1.  First, there are two things I can do immediately to improve things I’d not been doing even before I get further testing!

One will reduce my belly fat and you can do both of them too.

a)  Alcohol is a sleep disruptor after you fall asleep.  Its disruption is such that even though you are asleep and not getting anything else done, you aren’t getting the restorative benefit of this sleep time.

For reducing my belly fat I’ve tried to drink less with little success.  When I get home from work and evening errands I found drinking a half glass of red wine not enough to get the effect of stress relief I want that a full glass provides.  Then after dinner, I found the same problem drinking a half glass of wine instead of a whole one.

The strategy she gave me is effective at helping better sleep, and much easier to use to cut back!

My body will have processed the one first glass before dinner in time to give me less sleep disruption AND I don’t have to force myself to have a half glass when I really don’t want to.

But by simply have zero red wine after dinner when I already have the effect of the glass before, doing it that way is oddly much more doable.

So I’ve adopted it already.  By continuing it, after a few weeks or months I’ll likely lose 6 pounds of fat.

And, if her advice is accurate, which is likely, I’ll also have more energy, feel more rested, and have less daytime sleepiness.

b) To fight my afternoon sleepiness, I always had part of my daily tea at 3 PM and some coffee also.

She said that in much the same way drinking the extra alcohol later in the day was disrupting my sleep, this afternoon caffeine intake was too! 

So, I decided to stop the bit of afternoon coffee entirely and drink what was my 3PM tea first thing in the morning instead.

Now the green tea I drink about 11:30 am is my last caffeine intake of the day.  This way I’ll have nine hours to process less caffeine and that too will improve my sleep.

II. I actually thought it unlikely I had sleep apnea beyond that. 

But I realized I had two indicators I did have sleep apnea, the daytime sleepiness and the high blood pressure, and that if I did have it I was unaware as I was sleeping through it.

So between the fact I get could a first round test at home, it measures any periods of sudden drops in blood oxygen, and the fact that I had faith that if I had it the Pillar Procedure would turn it off, I thought it wise to get the test.

The sleep doctor did schedule me to get set up for this test and to bring back the device for the read out.

BUT, she also surprised me in two ways.

My nose looks relatively symmetrical from the front.  And my jaw is relatively large.

Unfortunately, both are wrong from a predisposition to sleep apnea perspective.

My left nostril is only half the size of my right one.  And, on the inside my jaw is relatively narrow; but my tongue is full sized!

Oops!  It seems I have TWO likely causes of sleep apnea built in that I didn’t know I have.

The second way she surprised me is that the Pillar procedure is NOT as effective as a new kind of mouth guard that you wear at night AND which requires no procedure at all to install.  It is apparently about twice that effective and almost as effective as the CPAP machine.

So I was VERY encouraged by my appointment.

For sure I was at least half way to more energy, less daytime sleepiness, and maybe lower blood pressure either from less apnea or from less belly fat the minute I was done!

The two fixes I can do myself right away were and are doable and I’ve already made them!

AND, I may be able to double that effect with a device I can live with if the testing does show I need it.  And, it looks like that extra boost is likely!

So the takeaway to remember from this post is two fold:

I. No caffeine after 12 noon or hardly ever and wine only BEFORE dinner but not after sound like small fixes and maybe not worth doing. That’s NOT so!

If you always do both, the improvement in your sleep and daytime energy will be quite large!

II. If you have either daytime sleepiness or high blood pressure, it’s MUCH more important to be evaluated by a sleep specialist as it’s likely you can improve or stop both by doing so!  

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