oxygen deprivation

  1. Snore less, score more…

    Snore less, score more

    Putting away the "saw"

    In the last Daily Dose, I warned you about a possible connection between nighttime snoring and oxygen deprivation, which some new research has linked to the onset of Alzheimer's disease

    But there's good news, too. In a lot of cases, there are ways snorers can curb - or even eliminate - a lot of their night-time "wood-sawing." Among these: LOSE WEIGHT - The trimmer and healthier you are, the less your lungs and windpipe become obstructed or bent all out of whack by your slumbering body. This means more oxygen in, and less problems later.

    CONTROL ALLERGIES - Anything you can do to minimize the effects to your respiratory system from allergens in your home's atmosphere is a good idea. Buy top-quality hypo-allergenic air filters for your home's heating/AC system, avoid spending too much time outdoors during allergy season, and take vitamins and supplements to help your system fight back against allergies.

    HUMIDIFY YOUR AIR - The vast majority of homes heated with forced air are vastly too dry. This can wreak havoc with your respiratory system. Install a whole-house humidifier into your furnace ducts. It's worth the $500 or so for peaceful, restful nights.

    SLEEP ON YOUR SIDE - Many snorers stop the racket simply by learning to sleep on their sides instead of their backs. Sometimes a different pillow (I use one made of buckwheat husks that's great) or mattress can help this to feel more comfortable. Some folks have great luck by sewing a tennis ball into a pocket on the back of their sleep-shirt at about shoulder-blade level!

    HAVE YOUR UVULA SNIPPED - I'm normally not one to recommend surgery, but having your uvula (that little piece of skin that dangles from your soft palate) removed is a simple in-and-out procedure at the doc's office, and it really can help curb snoring. Look into it. (Yes, that's a last-ditch measure - before your spouse throws you out on the street.)

    Bottom line: If you want to give yourself the best chance at dodging a lot of health issues (or just give your wife some peace at night), try any or all of these things to beat snoring. Even if it isn't conclusively linked to Alzheimer's, your reward will be better, more restful sleep.

    Oh, and gentlemen: It looks like there's at least one other VERY worthwhile reward to getting a great night's sleep

    Better Slumber = Sexier Numbers

    A study published in a recent issue of the journal Sleep concludes that a correlation exists between quality and duration of nighttime sleep and morning levels of the quintessential male hormone:

    TESTOSTERONE.

    The research, conducted by scientists from the University of Chicago, focused on a pool of men aged 64-74. Those who experienced the best and longest periods of quality sleep each night - as measured by polysomnography over 6-9 days - also tended to exhibit the highest blood testosterone levels in tests the following mornings.

    No wonder we fellows are feeling randy after a good night's sleep.

    As if you needed another reason to seek more restful slumber

  2. "Breaking" news for sound older minds

    "Breaking" news for sound older minds

    The darker side of sleep-sawing

    It has been a while since I've written about the importance of good sleep - and today there are some timely news items that give me an opportunity to remind you of this core component of good health

    I've said a million times (at least) that a restful night's sleep pays healthy dividends in a thousand different ways. And I'm not just talking about the sheer hours spent in slumber. A lot of people think that if their eyes are closed for 8 hours, they're doing all they can to get good sleep. This isn't always true, especially for snorers.

    Snoring may seem harmless, but sometimes it signifies medical conditions that are far from innocuous - or can lead to them over time

    According to a recent article in the UK Daily Mail, researchers at Britain's Leeds University have concluded that years of heavy snoring could be causing ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE among many of those over 65 afflicted with the condition. The reason: Oxygen deprivation.

    Few people seem to know this, but heavy snoring - especially if related to a disorder called sleep apnea - can cause dangerously low levels of blood oxygen. The Leeds scientists have linked this oxygen deprivation to dementia.

    Interestingly enough, the snoring correlation appears to have been one that was accidentally discovered. The research was originally aimed at studying how the oxygen deprivation associated with things like strokes, angina, heart attacks, and emphysema affected the development of Alzheimer's

    The article's sources claim that heavy snorers are more than twice as likely to be men as women. This does NOT correlate with the numbers on the development of Alzheimer's, which affects women at a slightly higher rate than men when adjusted for age (women live longer, and therefore account for many more cases than men in raw terms).

    However, if this research is right in concluding the oxygen deprivation can be a major contributing factor to Alzheimer's, you may want to take some measures to stop snoring just in case. I'll give you all the details in the next Daily Dose.

    But speaking of senior citizens' mental states

    Depressing to the (brittle) bones

    Lots of people (especially my readers) know all about the risks of antidepressant drugs for teens and young adults. But I'll bet the downsides of these drugs for the elderly aren't nearly as well known. Here's just one of them

    According to the Archives of Internal Medicine and other sources, a pair of American studies have concluded that certain drugs within the most popular class of antidepressants (SSRIs like Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac) can contribute to a higher risk of osteoporosis in both men and women.

    Both an Oregon Health and Sciences University study of nearly 6000 men over 65 and a University of Minnesota study of over more than 2700 women with an average age of 80 found that hip fractures were measurably more common among those taking SSRIs

    As it turns out, the same protein that carries a chemical these drugs inhibit in the brain (serotonin) also exists in high concentrations in the bones. Clearly, inhibiting it in the whole body - which is what happens with anti-depressant taking - makes one's bones more prone to breakage.

    No studies have yet concluded whether or not this is as depressing to someone on Prozac as it would be for an un-medicated senior citizen

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