Sleep Hygiene

An expert’s view on sleep apnea

An expert’s view on sleep apnea

Even the occasional insomniac may feel the agony of lost sleep. Imagine for a moment when you woke up drowsy and worn out every morning. Daytime sleepiness and brain fog are constant reminders that even though you may be going to bed and staying in bed for the recommended amount of time, you aren’t getting good quality rest for the up to 1 in 3 adults who are estimated to have obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which the patient briefly stops breathing at intervals during the night. And it’s all a result of the fact that people with sleep apnea simply cannot breathe normally when they are sleeping.

Sleep Apnea: What Is It?

One typical sleep issue is sleep apnea. A 2016 survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that 29.4 million individuals, or 14% of the population, using sleep apnea machine. Approximately 80% of these go undetected. Major risk factors for the condition’s development include age and obesity. It is anticipated that the prevalence of sleep apnea would rise as obesity rates keep rising and the American population ages.

  • Loud, constant snoring that is sometimes interrupted by gasps, pauses, and snorts.
  • Lack of sleep or daytime drowsiness.
  • Having a dry mouth and feeling drained upon awakening.
  • Regular waking up throughout the night.
  • Gasping for air or feeling like you’re choking when you wake up.

You normally only briefly awaken as a result of sleep apnea in order to start breathing again. You may not even be aware of your presence. According to Dr. Peter A. Fotinakes, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, California, these occurrences are known as arousals and “it’s analogous to someone shaking you up.” These arousals result in fragmented, non-restorative sleep, which “leads to daytime drowsiness, which may become as severe as a narcoleptic’s lethargy,” according to research.

Related: Do you with your CPAP machine on?

Significant Sleep Disruption

Pulmonologist and director of the sleep medicine division at National Jewish Health in Denver, Dr. Sheila Tsai, claims that “Obstructive sleep apnea condition results in repeated drops in oxygen saturation while you sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea may have trouble falling asleep, frequent awakenings during sleeping, and/or a lack of sleep after waking up.” Sleep apnea may make things worse for other sleep disorders like sleep walking or restless legs syndrome since it disrupts sleep, in addition to making you feel tired and unrested throughout the day.

According to Fotinakes, a person with severe sleep apnea may have 500 arousals during an 8-hour period of sleep. In “In “milder” situations, you can have 15 arousals per hour, which implies the patient is still waking up every 4 minutes during their sleep period, which results in a sizable amount of sleep fragmentation. Think about waking up 120 times in an 8-hour sleep cycle “He claims.

According to Fotinakes, REM sleep periods are when arousals are more frequent and sleep apnea is often worse. Your eyes move quickly when you’re sleeping in REM, thus the phrase rapid eye movement. You dream when you are in this deep slumber state.” Every 70 to 120 minutes, we undergo REM cycles. With each cycle, the length of each REM phase lengthens. As a result, the majority of REM sleep occurs in the last few hours before waking. “

The commencement of REM sleep and the amount of time you spend in that deep, restorative period of sleep may both be delayed by sleep apnea. According to Fotinakes, sleep apnea “results in a considerable degree of fragmentation during REM phases.”


Treatment for sleep apnea may be accomplished in a number of ways. Continuous positive airway pressure treatment is the most widespread and often most efficient of these. This entails sleeping with a mask covering your lips and nose. The mask is connected to a machine that inflates the throat and keeps it from collapsing by pumping air into it via a tube.

Some people may also have the option of surgery or dental appliances. In order to relieve strain on their airways, obese or overweight patients are frequently counseled to lose weight.

According to Fotinakes, when you finally obtain treatment for sleep apnea, your brain will make an effort to make up for the poor quality of sleep you’ve been getting for months or years. “When starting CPAP therapy, it’s not uncommon for a person to have hours-long REM phases. Their brains are essentially starving for REM sleep, thus the brain recovers when the REM-specific sleep disruption brought on by sleep apnea is removed.”

An expert’s view on sleep apnea

The Four Ideal Positions for Sleeping

You may alter a few aspects of your everyday routine in addition to receiving therapy from a CPAP machine or other device, which can significantly reduce the severity of your sleep apnea. Everyone has a preferred sleeping position, but altering it may assist with sleep apnea symptoms and snoring reduction.

The following four postures are the best for reducing sleep apnea:

  1. To the left of you.
  2. To the right of you.
  3. On your stomach.
  4. Only with your head up, on your back.

Gravity makes sleep apnea worse when you’re supine (lying on your back), according to Tsai. “The symptoms of sleep apnea may be less severe if you sleep on your side since the tongue slips back and clogs the airway. Fotinakes continues, “In many instances, sleeping on your side or in a prone posture (on your stomach) may minimize or even completely eradicate snoring and sleep apnea.”

It may be uncomfortable to sleep on your stomach, and some people who attempt it complain of stiff necks when they wake up. When laying face down, using a very thin cushion or a pillow designed especially for stomach sleepers may assist ease neck tension.

You’ll probably want a bigger pillow to support your head and neck while you sleep on your side. To maintain themselves in the proper posture, some individuals choose to snuggle up to a big body cushion. Do some research and test out a few pillows to discover one that feels comfortable for you. There are several pillows that are sold expressly for treating sleep apnea difficulties.

Try raising the head of the bed if you must sleep on your back since some individuals with sleep apnea also have acid reflux and doing so is often advised to lessen the symptoms of that illness, suggests Tsai. “Sleep apnea symptoms may be improved by sleeping with the head as high and upright as possible, such as on an adjustable bed or in a chair.” The proper posture that maintains a more open airway may be achieved with the use of wedge-shaped pillows composed of foam rather to a squishier substance. To get the appropriate height to minimize sleep apnea symptoms, some individuals even raise the head of a regular bed using bricks or a bed riser.

Finding the best, most comfortable posture that reduces discomfort could require some trial and error. Till you discover what works for you, keep experimenting.

Top 10 Foods for Healthy Sleep Hygiene

Top 10 Foods for Healthy Sleep Hygiene

Food and sleep are interrelated, and you can hardly discuss one without the other. In fact, in the medical diagnosis of sleep disorders, one of the essential factors to consider is food intake. It may require a thorough examination of the quality and quantity of food intake. In addition, a change of diet may be the simplest and cheapest way to deal with any sleep disorder. 

Without closely monitoring food intake, achieving healthy sleep hygiene may be nothing more than a daydream. For example, while the most common sleep disorder is lack of sleep, known as insomnia, one of the best ways to cure it is to change diet or selective eating. As in the case of insomnia, one in every ten persons suffer from one type of insomnia or the other. 

The primary culprit of insomnia is the stress on the body and mind. It can be fixed by natural recovery methods, which majorly entails changing your food. No doubt, changing your diet is not only natural; it is also straightforward and effective in healing. The simplest way to approach this is to choose some sleep-inducing foods to eat at night when preparing for bed.

Taking these food items increases the chances of your body secreting the sleeping hormone. As a result, you can measure lengthier and healthier sleeping time. However, there is a warning here because overeating at night will hurt your chances of a sound sleep. And that does not even have anything to do with a particular food. 

Now, let us look at some of the best foods that can boost your chances of good sleep hygiene.

10 Best Foods for Excellent Food Hygiene

  1. Poultry

Poultry such as chicken and turkey often contains an essential ingredient for sleep. That is Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that you get when you reach the flesh of any of these birds. You can also get it from other derivative nutrients; its process helps your body produce serotonin. Serotonin is a byproduct hormone that enhances your body’s ability to make another hormone known as melatonin. Melatonin, on the other hand, helps your body to control sleep cycles better. 

  1. Fish

Fish is another natural food item to increase your sleep hygiene because it contains vitamin B6. The primary sources of this vitamin include salmon, halibut, and tuna, which are rich because they live in salty waters. In addition, vitamin B6 is one of the prerequisites of melatonin synthesis, which can also be triggered by being in the dark. Therefore, fish should be part of your dinner if you want to have a better chance of sleeping with ease.

Top 10 Foods for Healthy Sleep Hygiene
  1. Yoghourt

If you need healthy sleep hygiene, yogurt should be your friend. Yogurt contains calcium, which helps process the two essential hormones for sleep: melatonin and Tryptophan. On the other hand, calcium is also present in any dairy products such as cheese and crackers. So, if you don’t like making yogurt, you can explore other related dairy products and feel good. 

  1. Bananas

Bananas are characteristic for the production of potassium that can help you stay asleep when you get in. This nutrient richness also contains magnesium and Tryptophan, also natural sedatives. You can depend on bananas to increase your sleep hygiene. 

  1. Honey 

Honey is a viable replacement for white sugar, and it does much good when it comes to the subject of sleep hygiene. At the same time, if you take much honey, you cannot run out of glucose, an essential ingredient that lowers orexin. Orexin, by the way, is a neurotransmitter in the brain that increases the brain’s alertness. Therefore, using honey can reverse your brain’s attention with a good dose. 

  1. Kale

Just like yogurt, Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is also rich in calcium, which is an essential ingredient. The primary use is to make those sleep hormones in your system start work.

  1. Nuts 

Nuts are great for your sleep hygiene, and you can start with walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds. All these seeds and nuts are efficient in increasing the level of serotonin with the presence of Tryptophan and magnesium.

Top 10 Foods for Healthy Sleep Hygiene
  1. Whole grains

A particular category of grains that we refer to as whole grains are capable of producing insulin. This hormone can promote the secretion of Tryptophan for brain activities. In addition, they also contain magnesium that can refresh your body for a better sleep that is deep and refreshing. A low magnesium level in the body is responsible for waking up at night. 

  1. White rice

White rice is essential for sleep due to the high glycemic index inside it. By implication, it has a natural tendency to give a natural rise in the blood sugar level. As a result, the body can secrete more insulin into the bloodstream. Following insulin secretion, the body can also respond by secreting Tryptophan, which activates the brain to sleep efficiently and regularly. 

  1. Eggs

The last but not the minor food item for sleep is the egg, which will be ideal for a breakfast meal. However, watch out for the consumption of eggs that can make you sleepy because of the high tryptophan content. On the other hand, try to take egg at night as supper and check how it influences your sleep quality and quantity. 


Finally, the top 10 food items above can increase your sleep hygiene to the best level possible. The food items can induce your sleep time and even help you stay asleep. However, other food items can act similarly. Then, remember that some of the essential nutrients in these food items include Tryptophan, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6. If you try any of the ten food items at night, you can begin to see the difference.

Understanding the Sleep Cycle for Better Sleep Hygiene

Understanding the Sleep Cycle for Better Sleep Hygiene

Everyone knows what it feels like after you have had an excellent night’s rest. Similarly, we know the other feeling of wishing you had a better night. (However, we often respond to anyone who asks that we had a good one). Thanks to several reports and research studies that have been educated on sleep. We can better understand rest. On the other hand, this understanding allows us to sleep better. 

The subject of good sleep hygiene must consider the quality and the quantity of our sleep. As for the amount, adults aged 18 and above are expected to do 7 to 9 hours. The other teenage years can spend 8 to 10 hours by recommendation. The school-age children aged between 6 and 13 need 9 to 11 hours. As for pre-school children, they need between 10 to 13 hours. However, newborns under three can freely sleep for 14 to 17 hours. 

Regarding sleep quality, we need to dig deeper into the biological aspect of sleep for improved sleep hygiene. Hence this article will describe each stage so we can all maximize it. Let us begin with the stages in the sleep cycle.

Stages of the Sleep Cycle for Better Sleep Hygiene

There are five known stages of sleep in a typical sleep cycle, and this understanding can help us achieve more effective sleep hygiene. This classification is based on the brain’s and body’s activities and characteristics during sleep. REM sleep stands out of the five stages, while the other four are grouped as the non-REM sleep stage. 

A straightforward way to differentiate between the different stages of sleep is by using the electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures the brainwave amplitudes and frequencies. The EEG can also measure biological rhythms such as muscle movements (EMG) and eye movements (EOG) during sleep. 

The Non-REM Sleep Stages

Stage 1 

Stage 1 stage of the sleep cycle is the entry point and the lightest stage of sleep. Meanwhile, the EEG brain frequency can be slightly slower than the period when you are fully awake. At this stage, you can experience some muscle tone presence alongside the skeletal muscles. Also, this stage is characterized by a regular heartbeat rate. 

Stage 2

In stage 2 of the sleep cycle, the person from stage 1 has entered a deeper part of the sleep. In stage 2, the sleeper is now less capable of waking up and experiences some characteristics of sleep spindles. We can also observe “saw tooth waves.” 

Understanding the Sleep Cycle for Better Sleep Hygiene

Stages 3 and 4 

Both stages 3 and 4 signify the deep sleep stage, which is the progress made from stage 2, which is only relatively deeper than stage 1. This stage is known as the “Slow Wave Sleep,” SWS, or the delta sleep. During the deep sleep stages, we notice a much slower frequency on the EEG while having high amplitude signals, known as delta waves. 

Beyond what the sleeper experiences at stage 2, it is more difficult for the sleeper to wake from sleep now. Research even showed that when a noise of over 100 decibels is applied to one in a deep sleep, it may not awaken the sleeper at this stage. Meanwhile, as a person advances in age, they tend to spend less time in the deep or slow-wave stage of sleep and more time at stage 2. 

Perhaps, that explains why adults are more accessible to call out of sleep than younger ones. Furthermore, we refer to the SWS as deep sleep because they signify the most profound experience of sleep one may have in an NREM stage. Moreover, stage 3 shows arousal thresholds that make it more difficult to wake someone in that stage. And if you succeed in waking a person up from stage 3, the person may feel groggy. 

In addition, the mental performance of the person may be slightly impaired. Another research showed that this impairment might take up to 30 minutes when we apply some cognitive tests. This characteristic feature differentiates this stage from the other steps, and the experience is known as Sleep Inertia. 

In the case of sleep deprivation, there may be a sharp rebound from the SWS, proving that there is more need for that stage for better sleep hygiene. In earlier reports of this stage, it was termed a brain quiescence. But later, we discover that it is a very active mind-brain state. Further research on brain activity during non-REM sleep stages shows that the most recent waking experience affects brain activity. 

Understanding the Sleep Cycle for Better Sleep Hygiene

The REM Sleep Stage

Stage 5 

The final stage of sleep, or what we refer to as the REM sleep stage, is characteristic of dreaming. Dreaming is the difference between this stage and the other stages. Meanwhile, the EEG shows a frequency that is close to being awake. In other words, one can assume that the mind is fully sharp but only in another ‘world.’ The sleeper’s experience is as though everything is accurate. However, at this stage, the skeletal muscles are atonic, which means they do not move. Then, the sleeping at this stage is irregular and erratic while the heartbeat dramatically increases. Some theories even opined that the atonic muscles at this stage are necessary to protect individuals having a dream at the REM stage from injury. 

Sleep Spindles and K-Complexes

At the Non-REM sleep stages, the sleeper experiences spindle activity either at the start or the end of the stage. This stage is automatic for sleepers as soon as they get to stage 2 of their sleep. Spindles also have different lengths or durations, but one can increase the activities of other parts of the brain’s frontal lobe with different frequencies. Further research is ongoing at this stage. 

On the other hand, K-complexes are similar to spindles and exclusive to NREM sleep stages. However, they are characterized by a single long delta wave that lasts only one second. Sleepers experience this stage by automatic prompt but can also be induced momentarily by sudden events. For instance, when someone knocks on a person’s door at the NREM stage, a K-complex may occur.


Finally, sleep hygiene is not achievable until we have a hold on the sleep understanding. Moreover, each stage’s experiences and expectations can also help us understand how to make the best of each. In all, you can master your sleep hygiene for longer and healthier life. 

More to read:
Know this before going laser eye surgery
LASIK and reading glasses
This brief guide will teach you about cataract eye surgery