Dr. Hamersky’s Radio Debut on Mile High Sports Radio

oral appliance therapy deviceDr. Hamersky recently fitted radio personality Eric Goodman with a mouthpiece to prevent snoring. To express his gratitude, Eric invited Dr. Hamersky onto his show, Mile High Sports Radio.

Eric started the discussion by explaining how happy he was with his device. Highlights include that it is compact and completely silent. Eric was elated when after one night of use, his snoring was completely gone, and his wife was happy.

“So, how did you help make my marriage better, if that was possible?” Eric asked. “I just quieted you down at night,” said Dr. Hamersky.

Dr. Hamersky then explains how oral appliance therapy devices are a simple way to drastically reduce snoring. Hear what Eric has to say about his new mouthpiece.

All I want for Christmas is a CPAP… said nobody ever!

 CPAP alternatives

Make 2015 a year of healthy sleep with CPAP alternatives

Do you dream of wearing a mask to bed each night? Probably not. Well, great news! The average sufferer of sleep apnea has many choices for CPAP alternatives that allow for healthy sleep without the many drawbacks of the CPAP.

The most common course of treatment for sufferers of sleep apnea, CPAP is often touted as the only viable  non-surgical option for all who have obstructive sleep disorders. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure and treats sleep apnea by pumping pressurized air into your throat and lungs to help keep your airway open and supply air to your body. For severe sleep apnea CPAP is the only non-surgical route but many people do not fall into the severe category and, therefore, have many more options. Understanding the spectrum of CPAP alternatives for sleep apnea treatment can open up a whole new world of healthy sleep without the inconvenience of a CPAP.

CPAP Disadvantages

CPAP is certainly not the only (or best) treatment for everyone. CPAP has many disadvantages, including:

  • Nose and throat irritation
  • Skin irritation due to mask
  • Dryness of the airway
  • Increased sinus infection risk
  • Inability to sleep due to limited mobility
  • Sensation of smothering

These minor irritations combine to create the largest disadvantage of CPAP: CPAP intolerance. People who have CPAP intolerance are unable to adjust to their CPAP machine, and either do not use it regularly or do not use it for the recommended amount of time each night.

Some studies have shown that CPAP compliance may be as low as 50% in some groups. Other studies define “good” compliance as just 4+ hours per night on 70% of nights. When people do not use CPAP, they essentially have no sleep apnea treatment.

CPAP Alternatives

For the average person suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, the easiest CPAP alternative is oral appliance therapy. Oral appliance therapy is a more comfortable and convenient sleep apnea treatment. It consists of a simple mouthpiece that you put in before going to sleep. There are many different sleep apnea appliances that can be used to target specific anatomical causes of your obstructive sleep apnea. It is important that you do not confuse these with over-the-counter snoring appliances that are ineffective against snoring and have no effect on your sleep apnea.

So, go ahead and scratch that CPAP off your Christmas list! Call 720-317-2700 or email us to come in for a full sleep apnea evaluation and to get information about the CPAP alternative available for you. We can help you make 2015 the year you sleep like a baby!

The connection between alcohol and snoring

stop snoring

Whether it’s one too many toasts to the season or a crutch to help cope with complicated family dynamics, for many the holidays bring on excess drinking and excess drinking can lead to snoring. We’re often asked about the connection between alcohol and snoring when doing an initial consult for sleep apnea diagnosis. Here’s a breakdown of the effect alcohol has on snoring and why curtailing your consumption around bedtime helps.

Alcohol causes the muscles in the throat to relax which decreases your natural ability to ward off airway obstructions. The physiology behind this connection between alcohol and snoring is explained well on The Mayo Clinic website, “When you doze off and progress from a light sleep to a deep sleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue and throat relax. The tissues in your throat can relax enough that they partially block your airway and vibrate. And, the more narrowed your airway, the more forceful the airflow becomes. This causes tissue vibration to increase, which causes your snoring to grow louder.”

Essentially, the only fix is to try reducing alcohol consumption in the afternoon or evening, or potentially eliminating it altogether. Not exactly what most people want to hear, particularly around the holidays. But here’s the catch… your snoring, even if exacerbated by alcohol, could be the sign of a deeper problem that could get worse as you age. So, before you start teetotaling make an appointment with a sleep dentist or orthodontist to have a full evaluation. Your sleep dentist can help evaluate on an individual basis if the connection between alcohol and snoring for you, personally,  is indicative of sleep apnea and should be treated. As quick visit to your sleep dentist can put your mind at ease,  help you plan for a future of healthy sleeping uninterrupted by snoring, and allow you a guilt-free toast to the new year!

Don’t Let Vacation Exhaust You:  Tips to Sleep Well On Vacation
Taking a vacation from everyday life is one of the best ways to relax and unwind. However,  with travel chaos, family drama, and no regular routine… getting enough sleep while on vacation can be challenging. In most cases, our bodies fail to adjust to the new environment and in the process we fail to get enough sleep. Typically, if you travel to a different region, the body has to adjust to the new time zone, and this is harder on some people than others but generally just takes time. As a result, you wake up feeling tired and fatigued, leaving you with not nearly the energy you need to have the fun you had anticipated. Don’t let your vacation exhaust you! Use these useful tips to sleep well on vacation.

Plan in Advance

 

Essentially, your body requires at least a day if not two to recover from the time zones. If you want to be on your feet the following day after arriving to your destination, it is necessary to do advance planning. Set your clock to the destination local time a day before departure. Further, find out about if the hotels you have booked have black out curtains. If you’re a particularly light sleeper consider bringing sleeping aids like earmuffs or ear plugs and an eye mask to help you sleep block out unfamiliar sounds and lights in the hotel.

Maintain your Routine While Away

 

We are creatures of habit and your body likes predictability. If you have a routine at home try to weave elements of the routine into your vacation. Sleeping routines are very important. Resist the urge to take a nap while on the plane if it is not yet your bedtime. Hard as it may be, stick to your routine and go to bed at the appropriate hour, and not when you feel sleepy. This is one of the most important tips to sleep well on vacation. If you stay awake until your bedtime while flying, you allow your body to overcome jetlag. If you normally sleep at 11:00 p.m., stay awake until that time. If you nap you will find you have trouble falling asleep. In addition, once you get to your destination you should avoid taking siesta if your routine does involve napping in the afternoon. If you sleep in the afternoon, you will once again have trouble sleeping at night.

Avoid Alcohol and Unfamiliar Foods

 

Even though the urge for adventure is usually strong while you are on vacation, you should stay away from unusual foods especially spicy foods if you are not used to them. In addition, you should limit your alcohol consumption particularly if you are still dehydrated from air travel.  Notably, spicy foods trigger heartburn and other gastrointestinal complications that can ruin your good night’s sleep. A running stomach can keep you awake for the whole night. The stomach complications only accelerate the challenges experienced by the body as it tries to adjust to the new environment. Moreover, you should be easy on the booze, especially when you approach the bedtime hour. Alcohol can affect your sleep pattern whereby you stay awake longer than usual, and you wake up with a massive hangover. Nothing zaps energy like a hangover!

 

These may sound a little killjoy but if you can observe the above tips to sleep well on vacation you will be more likely to enjoy your holiday and come back ready to tackle life again. Make a point to respect your body and your need to rest so that you have the energy you need to enjoy your surroundings, relax, unwind, and have fun!

Understanding Sleep Apnea in Children

It’s that time again… the time when folks tend to make New Year’s Resolutions. Often these include commitments to adopt a healthier lifestyle. It’s no secret that getting an adequate amount of sleep each night is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your children. While it is sincerely frustrating as an adult to have a sleep disorder, there’s little worse than having a child who is having trouble sleeping. Most parents are quick to leave “no stone unturned” to get to the root of the problem if a child is not sleeping but, surprisingly, many parents don’t know to look into sleep apnea in children as an option. Sleep apnea in children is far more common that most people realize and understanding this condition, the symptoms, and methods of prevention is a valuable first course of action if you have a child who suffers from sleepless nights.

Symptoms for sleep apnea in children

It is vital to understand how sleep apnea in children manifests since sleep deprivation in children can have life-long health consequences and sleep apnea in infants can be fatal. Sleep disorders often occur in children due to problems with their tonsils, congenital issues, or a combination of the two. Children who have sleep disturbances are often smaller in size because they lack vital growth hormone production during the lesser stages of REM sleep. Being educated on this disorder is the key to making healthy choices for your children.

Here’s a basic list of the symptoms for sleep apnea in children and adolescents:

If you fear you child may be at risk of having sleep apnea it is important that you have your child evaluated as soon as possible. The good news is that orthodontic intervention can provide a permanent solution that may eliminate their need for sleep apnea treatments as adults. Before your child undergoes invasive, irreversible surgery to correct a sleep breathing problem, contact Denver Dental Sleep Care and learn more about safe, predictable dental sleep treatment. A consultation is always free and could provide the peace of mind to help you sleep better, too!

Prevention of sleep apnea in children

Here’s a quick breakdown of factors that contribute to sleep apnea in children.  This list is a good first reference point but has links to get more details on our website. There are many great online resources for parents who need information about sleep apnea in children. A few of our favorites are listed at the bottom.

1. Get an early start

The craniofacial development of a baby greatly influences how the baby breaths. Having even a basic understanding of how this development should occur can help alert you to signs that your baby might have trouble down the road. Most importantly, early treatment works faster, is less expensive and traumatic, and has better results.

2. The advantages of breastfeeding for prevention of sleep apnea in children

Breastfeeding naturally lends itself to the child nursing in a more upright position. When babies are held in upright positions, they are encouraged to take the breast milk with their neck stretched and a forward stretching of the chin, which is very important for healthy natural facial development.

3. Recognize poor habits and stop them

There are a number of habits that can form early in a child’s life that can adversely affect their breathing and, consequently, their sleeping. Sucking, tongue thrust, lips posture and mouth breathing are amongst them and can be controlled and treated early.

4. The importance of diet

A diet of fast food is often softer in texture than crunchy fruits and vegetables. In young infants the softer diet creates smaller bones and an incorrect bone structure in the mouth. This allows developing teeth to crowd often leading to major orthodontic needs, TMJ dysfunction and obstructive sleep apnea.

Other online resources:

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford

WebMD: Could your child have sleep apnea

American Sleep Apnea Association: Pediatric Sleep Apnea Information

5 Tips For Choosing The Best Activity Tracker

Activity tracking and sleep tracking devices are all the rage right now. As we all become more acutely aware of how sleep and physical activity are vital to our health and wellness, it’s natural to wonder if these devices and apps are necessary? Most activity trackers are also equipped with sleep tracking capabilities. These devices and apps can help you better understand your activity and sleep patterns possibly exposing any negative sleep habits that you might not have realized exist. For those with certain types of sleep apnea this information can be particularly helpful.

Here are five tips to help you determine the best device for you. 

  • Cost: Activity and sleep tracking devices range in cost from free versions that work off your smartphone to those that can be downloaded when you buy a wearable device ranging in price from $15 – $200. Less expensive models are more streamlined in options a function more like a glorified pedometer. The pricer options have very extensive features like GPS tracking, training plans, software syncing, and a long battery life.
  • Convenience: Some sleep trackers are attached to your wrist or or worn on your body intended to be in use all the time and others need to be set and turned on. It’s important that you pick one that is going to be convenient and comfortable for your lifestyle. If you don’t use it, it won’t do you much good.
  • Water-resistance: For activity tracking it’s worth considering if you’ll be swimming or even sweating much in a wearable device, if you choose that type. Only a few brands are actually water resistant. Most are “splash proof” which means they’ll hold up fine under most work-out scenarios and normal hand/face washing but not much more.
  • Heart-rate monitors: For those who really like to geek-out on the data, devices with heart rate monitors can give you a whole other level of insight into your body’s response to sleep and activity. The price shoots up when you choose this option but for competitive athletes or people who have an interest in life habits and patterns that create agitation in their body, this data might be worth paying extra for.
  • Style: Even with something as functional as an activity tracker, if you don’t want to wear it you’re not going to benefit from it. The range of wristband options extends from bulky bands to watches to small bracelet-like accessories. There’s also wristbands that convert to a smaller device that you can carry in your pocket or clip to an undergarment.

As you can see, there are many types of activity trackers to choose from. The most important thing is to pick the one that’s right for you and then start using it!

4 Great Reasons to Make Sleep a Priority

It’s no secret that sleep is essential for good health. But why? Most people don’t realize the huge impact sleep can have and without proper sleep how many areas of your life can be affected. Below are 4 great reasons to start getting a better night’s sleep starting TODAY!

  • Get sick less often: Poor sleep and sickness go hand in hand. If you do not sleep properly and for proper duration, then you are much more likely to get sick. Do a quick Google search and you will find no shortage of case studies showing that lack of sleep is a huge contributor to sickness.
  • Be stronger and smarter: Especially important for kids, lack of sleep interrupts the growth and development of the body and brain. For kids and adults alike, improper sleep results in poor comprehension of new ideas and decreased ability to concentrate. Additionally, the benefits of exercise and strength training are diminished when a person is tired.
  • Put on your happy face: A poor night’s sleep is bound to make you more irritable and less patient with family, friends, and co-workers throughout the day. To sustain the ups and downs of the day, good sleep is essential. Without it, you’re much more prone to irrational behavior and diminished ability to make quick and accurate decisions which reduces productivity.
  • Skin that glows: A lack of sleep can make your skin dull. It’s true! As your body sleeps it rejuvenates. Like your brain, your skin is also able to repair during restful nighttime hours. People who regularly get improper sleep are more likely to have a lackluster complexion and dark circles under the eyes. The only real way to look and feel fresh is to get good sleep.

It’s a simple list but great reminders for why sleep is so important. From immunity to brain growth to mood and skin; sleep affects every part of your body inside and out. Make sleep a priority. Take the time you need to let your body recover, repair, and get ready for a great new day!

Get rid of sleep apnea to have a healthier life

Sleep Apnea is a severe sleep disorder that is caused due to breathing problem when the patient sleeps; if it is left untreated this breathing problem will persist during sleep leaving the body and brain with not enough oxygen.

There are two different kinds of sleep apnea:

Obstructive Apnea (OSA): this is the more common form of apnea and most of the apnea patience suffer from OSA. During this apnea a blockage in the airway occurs, often created by the breakage of the soft tissue that exist in the backside of the throat.

Central Apnea: this problem is much more complex than the previous one, as here the brain fails to send signals to the muscles, due to the unsteadiness in the respiratory control center.

Who can be affected by this sleeping disorder?

People of any age can be affected from this sleep disorder but there are few factors that can stimulate the disorder:

  • This problem is generally found in males over 40.
  • Being overweight can enhance the risk of sleep apnea
  • If your neck size is larger than normal. (16 inches or more in women, and 17 inches or more in man)
  • If you have large tongue or tonsil or small jawbone.
  • If you have family history of apnea
  • If you are suffering from or a history of Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Nasal obstruction as a result of a deviation of septum, sinus problems or allergies.

What are the health benefits of sleep?

Adequate sleep is necessary to start a brighter day; lack of sleep can accelerate weight gain as inadequate sleep can slow down your metabolism. Even deficient sleep can repress your immune system and as a consequence your body will be too vulnerable to protect from common viral diseases. Athletic performance is improved with sleep and, let’s just face it, after waking up from a complete sleep you will feel healthier and undoubtedly look better, too! Concentration levels are higher after a good night’s sleep and proper sleep can melt away your fatigue and weariness leading to a less stressful outlook. Without making sleep a priority you are just welcoming illnesses into your life, as sleep and health are related.

If you are suffering from apnea it is next to impossible to get proper sleep. In order to cure apnea you must bring a change in your lifestyle:

  • Quit smoking and even avoid sleeping pills, alcohol and sedatives.
  • Reduce the level of your assumption of heavy meals and caffeine.
  • Maintain a regular sleep hours, try to sleep in certain time frame regularly.

Make it your New Year resolution that regardless the level of work pressures you will never skip your daily proper amount of sleeping.

The connection between lack of sleep and suicide

In the wake of the tragic death of Robin Williams, conversations around depression and suicide have taken center stage. There is a lot of information available about causes and treatments for this incurable disease. Among all of the research available on this topic, I felt it was important to pause on the connection between lack of sleep and despression.

First, I want to share my disclaimer that I am not certified to diagnose or treat depression and I do not claim to be an expert. As a sleep expert, I do take great interest in the subjects of depression and suicide as they relate to sleep and I look to credible experts to stay informed on the latest research.

My recent research on this topic led me to a study by the SLEEP Journal: Sleep and Suicidality: Do Sleep Disturbances Predict Suicide Risk?

The hypothesis that prompted this study is that sleep disturbances may be able to significantly predict suicide among patients with mood disorders. The connection between sleep, depression and suicide is not a new area of research. In fact, the authors of this particular study have been working on this since the early 1990’s. Before we get into the key takeaways from this important research, I want to provide you with a couple of statistics on suicide and depression that while startling, are crucial for our awareness as compassionate human beings.

1) Suicide is one of the leading causes of death; approximately 1 million people worldwide commit suicide each year.

2) More than 90 percent of people who commit suicide suffer from depression or another diagnosable substance abuse disorder or mental disorder.

Perhaps you are familiar with some of the risk factors of suicide.

  • Incarceration
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Substance abuse
  • Family violence
  • Physical or sexual abuse

One of the risk factors that are often categorized as a “modifiable risk” is insomnia and hypersomnia. In their clinical studies, these researchers compared the electroencephalographic (EEG) of suicide attempters to non-attempters and found that the suicide attempters had lower sleep efficiency, and more interestingly, they had significantly increased REM activity in their first REM cycle. The latter information allowed the researchers to draw observations about the link between dreams and suicide.

There are two recent clinical studies in which researchers found that repetitive and frightening dreams in depressed patients, particularly women, predicted a stronger tendency for suicidal behavior. A follow up study also showed that frequent nightmares are directly related to the risk of suicide.

Another issue that this study examined was sleep-disordered breathing. The researchers concluded that physiological sleep fragmentation might contribute to emotional exhaustion, which in turn leads to a higher occurrence of suicidal behavior.

In this study, researchers wanted to find out whether the link between sleep disturbances and suicide could be explained by depressive symptoms or specific symptoms of sleep disturbances. They found that both insomnia and nightmares were indeed associated with both depressive symptoms and suicidality. On the contrary, they did not find a significant link between sleep-related breathing symptoms and suicidal thoughts.

Like all research, each study has its strengths and weaknesses. I wanted to take the time to summarize this study so that you are aware that it is a growing topic of research. Each one of my patient’s whole well-being is my concern when they step into my office and it continues to be my mission and priority to consider each patient’s sleep challenges within the context of his or her life and work together to improve your sleep.

I hope this post has shed some light on this topic which has been so much in the forefront of our media over the last week. Please feel free to share your comments or questions so that others may benefit from your experience.

The best treatment for sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by irregular or shallow breathing during sleep. As apnea means absence of breathing, this disorder involves absence or pause in breathing for a few seconds during sleep. These spells of apnea may occur between 5 and 30 times an hour causing choking and significant sleep disturbance to those who suffer from this condition. Clearly, this type of sleep disturbance can be a very troublesome condition that requires immediate, effective treatment but what is the best treatment for sleep apnea?

The most effective and reliable treatments for sleep-disordered breathing range from lifestyle modification and surgery to sleep devices or appliances like CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy and Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). While CPAP involves the use of a device to supply air under regulated pressure to force open the airway obstruction, OAT is the application of small plastic devices, most commonly used is the Mandibular Advancement Splint, into the mouth to reposition the jaw and prevent the tongue and oral tissues from obstructing the airway. This allows the airway to remain open during sleep and promotes adequate air intake.

The Pros and Cons of OAT vs CPAP

As both the therapies differ in technique, efficacy, costs as well as comfort level for the patient, it is usually difficult to make the right choice for MOST efficient treatment. To help clear this dilemma, have a look at the various aspects of both the treatments that will help steer your decision.

Although CPAP is the most widely used method for treatment, it is also very difficult to tolerate, cumbersome and unappealing as it requires the patient to wear a mask connected to a tube that supplies a steady stream of air under pressure during sleep. Being a bulky, noisy and inconvenient device, patient usually take off the machine within a few hours thus, hampering the treatment.

OAT, on the other hand, is comfortable and easy as the appliance is small making to easy to carry along or become accustomed to. The oral appliance is just a small and light mouthpiece, so it is very convenient to place in your mouth and go to sleep unlike the mask and the tube which can make falling asleep even harder than before.

Apart from personal inconveniences numerous studies and clinical trials also revealed that both the therapies showed remarkable improvements in neurobehavioral as well as polysomnographic outcomes and though CPAP remains the most effective technique in lowering the required apnea-hypopnea index (API) and increasing oxyhemoglobin saturation levels, OAT is more user friendly and is an effective alternative to continuous positive airway pressure especially in patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. In the case of patients with severe sleep apnea who are intolerant to or not responsive to CPAP, oral appliances can be a great solution for treatment. Moreover, as majority of patients are unable to use CPAP for the recommended 6 hours each night, its therapeutic action is not fully achieved.

The Decision Can Be Difficult

As each therapy has its own advantages and limitations, the decision should be carefully considered by discussing with a professional to help you choose the therapy you can make use of all night without disturbing your sleep. This decision can be difficult and that’s why, at Denver Dental Sleep Care we offer free consultations for anybody looking for help diagnosing a sleep disturbance and recommendations for the best course of treatment. Our goal is always to get you back to a good night’s sleep!