Alcohol’s Effect on Nighttime Breathing
In general, alcohol is a substance that may have significant impacts on your health. You may not have realized that it may also affect your sleep, especially if you have sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea.
Alcohol can decrease your drive to breathe, slowing your breathing and making your breaths shallow. In addition, it may relax the muscles of your throat, which may make it more likely for your upper airway to collapse.
The Consequences of Alcohol in Sleep Apnea
As the result of alcohol use, apnea events occur more frequently in someone who is predisposed to them. In addition, the drops in the oxygen levels of the blood (called desaturations) become more severe. This may lead to increased carbon dioxide levels in the body, a condition called hypercapnia. Therefore, the consequences of sleep apnea may become more pronounced with alcohol use.
If You Have Sleep Apnea, Should You Avoid Alcohol?
If you have sleep apnea, the best advice would be to abstain from all alcohol use. At the very least, alcohol should not be used in the several hours prior to bedtime to minimize the effects overnight.
You should also keep in mind that it is important to set up your continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) under typical sleeping conditions. Therefore, if you drink alcohol daily but abstain prior to your titration study, the pressure may not be adequate to maintain your airway when you drink. If you wish to maximize your therapy, consider the role that alcohol use plays in treating your sleep apnea.
By Elizabeth Foster
Losing a few hours of sleep a night can lead to weight gain, a new study has shown, and effects can be seen after just a week
Losing just a few hours of sleep a night can lead to weight gain, a new study has shown, and effects can be seen after only a week’s worth of bad rest.
The findings, published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, outline the connection between insufficient sleep and overeating.
Hit the gym or toss & turn: Sleep quality tied by ‘compelling association’ to exercise levels: U.S. experts
On the heels of news that Canada’s adult obesity rates have reached historic highs, a new study offers some extra incentive to hit the gym: a better night’s sleep.
Researchers have discovered a “compelling association” between weekly physical activity and improved sleep quality – including reduced incidences of sleep apnea and insomnia – according to a report released Monday. The relationship is so strong, in fact, they say simply adding 10 minutes of walking to your day is likely to improve your Zs.
“There is a relationship there, and it’s sequentially greater as people exercise more,” said Max Hirshkowitz, an associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine and a sleep researcher with more than three decades in the field. “Really, it confirms what should be common sense.”
Researchers from the University of Colorado studied 16 healthy men and women for a two-week period. The subjects’ eating habits, metabolism and sleeping patterns were tracked in a completely controlled environment. By documenting every mouthful of food and wink of sleep, researchers were able to determine that losing just a few hours of sleep for a few nights a week can lead to significant weight gain.
In the study’s first week, half of the subjects were given a nine-hour sleep schedule. The other half were given only five hours of sleep each night. All of the subjects were given unlimited access to food.
In the second week of the study, the subjects’ schedules were flipped. Those that had been getting a full night’s sleep were put on the five-hour schedule and the sleepier subjects were switched to nine-hour nights.
Researchers found that when subjects were sleep-deprived, they ate far more than their well-rested counterparts. At the end of the first week, the subjects getting just five hours of sleep each night had gained an average of two pounds. During the second week of the experiment, the group that was switched from nine hours of sleep to five hours also gained weight.
‘We found that when people weren’t getting enough sleep, they overeat carbohydrates’
Kenneth Wright, the director of the university’s sleep and chronobiology laboratory, told the New York Times that the change in eating habits that takes place when we’re tired is partly attributable to behavioural factors, and partly to biological ones.
“We found that when people weren’t getting enough sleep, they overeat carbohydrates,” he said. “They ate more food [in total], and when they ate food also changed. They ate a smaller breakfast and they ate a lot more after dinner.”
He concludes that the lack of sleep changes subjects’ internal clocks, similar to the effect of jet lag.
“They were awake three hours before their internal nighttime had ended,” Wright said. “Being awakened during their biological night is probably why they ended up eating smaller breakfasts.” That change led to late night snacking, and a 6% overall increase in caloric intake.
Researchers were confident the connection between loss of sleep and weight gain would carry over to the real world, although the results may be less pronounced outside of the experiment’s carefully controlled environment. They said further research is needed to determine the connection between long-term sleep deprivation and weight gain, and especially how a lack of rest can affect our eating habits.
Sleep is disrupted in people who likely have early Alzheimer’s disease but do not yet have the memory loss or other cognitive problems characteristic of full-blown disease, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report March 11 in JAMA Neurology.
The finding confirms earlier observations by some of the same researchers. Those studies showed a link in mice between sleep loss and brain plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Early evidence tentatively suggests the connection may work in both directions: Alzheimer’s plaques disrupt sleep, and lack of sleep promotes Alzheimer’s plaques.
“This link may provide us with an easily detectable sign of Alzheimer’s pathology,” says senior author David M. Holtzman, MD, the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor and head of Washington University’s Department of Neurology. “As we start to treat people who have markers of early Alzheimer’s, changes in sleep in response to treatments may serve as an indicator of whether the new treatments are succeeding.”
Sleep problems are common in people who have symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease, but scientists recently have begun to suspect that they also may be an indicator of early disease. The new paper is among the first to connect early Alzheimer’s disease and sleep disruption in humans.
For the new study, researchers recruited 145 volunteers from the University’s Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. All of the volunteers were 45 to 75 years old and cognitively normal when they enrolled.
As a part of other research at the center, scientists already had analyzed samples of the volunteers’ spinal fluids for markers of Alzheimer’s disease. The samples showed that 32 participants had preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, meaning they were likely to have amyloid plaques present in their brains but were not yet cognitively impaired.
Participants kept daily sleep diaries for two weeks, noting the time they went to bed and got up, the number of naps taken on the previous day, and other sleep-related information.
The researchers tracked the participants’ activity levels using sensors worn on the wrist that detected the wearer’s movements.
“Most people don’t move when they’re asleep, and we developed a way to use the data we collected as a marker for whether a person was asleep or awake,” says first author Yo-El Ju, MD, assistant professor of neurology. “This let us assess sleep efficiency, which is a measure of how much time in bed is spent asleep.”
Participants who had preclinical Alzheimer’s disease had poorer sleep efficiency (80.4 percent) than people without markers of Alzheimer’s (83.7 percent). On average, those with preclinical disease were in bed as long as other participants, but they spent less time asleep. They also napped more often.
“When we looked specifically at the worst sleepers, those with a sleep efficiency lower than 75 percent, they were more than five times more likely to have preclinical Alzheimer’s disease than good sleepers,” Ju says.
Ju and her colleagues are following up with studies in younger participants who have sleep disorders.
“We think this may help us get a better feel for the way this connection flows — does sleep loss drive Alzheimer’s, does Alzheimer’s lead to sleep loss, or is it a combination?” Ju says. “That will help us determine whether we can change the course of disease with pharmaceuticals or other treatments.”
This study was funded by an Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar award and NIH grant P01NS074969 from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Ju Y-E S, McLeland JS, Toedebusch CD, Xiong C, Fagan AM, Duntley SP, Morris JC, Holtzman DM. Sleep quality and preclinical Alzheimer disease. JAMA Neurology, online March 11. National Sleep Foundation
Now we dream! In “rapid-eye movement” sleep, the eyes are active and the brain is more so. Faster brain waves return as if we’re awake. Our limbs become temporarily paralyzed so we don’t act out our dreams. Newborns spend half their sleep time in REM sleep, elderly adults only spend 15 percent in this stage of sleep.
Hormones are released, triggering functions such as restoring energy, repairing tissues, regulating appetite and strengthening the immune system. If you walk or talk in your sleep, you’ll probably do it during Stage 3.