Is Your Breathing Impacting Your Ability to Get a Good Night's Sleep?



The impacts of poor sleep on our mental and physical health can be significant. From chronic health issues, weight gain, poor mood and work productivity, the effects of not getting a good night's sleep regularly can permeate throughout our lives.


While everyone’s needs are different, the difference between getting regular good sleep and chronic poor sleep look very different!



What are the qualities of a healthy sleep pattern?



Optimal Duration - The recommended duration for adults is 7-9 hours of sleep each night, slightly less (7-8 hours) for those over 65, with teens and babies requiring more to support rapid growth and development, 8-10 and up to 17 hours respectively. Other factors such as daily schedule, activity level and genetics may mean that some thrive on more, some on less.



Continuity - the most restorative sleep is continuous, that is, straight through the night with minimal disruptions. When sleep is disrupted, one does not cycle through the four stages of sleep, preventing time in deep sleep and REM sleep. For example, those with sleep apnea who suffer from lapses in breathing, suffer from the effects of sleep deprivation. Studies have found that continuity is just as important as duration.



Regular Timing - when you sleep in a 24 hour period also matters. Your circadian rhythm involves the integration of your body’s internal clock and environmental cues, with light being the most important regulator, hence why you feel sleepy in dim lighting or darkness and why shift workers and those experiencing jet lag struggle to sleep (e.g. falling asleep, staying asleep and getting enough sleep). Timing also includes maintaining a regular bedtime.



So, how do you know you are getting enough sleep?


  • You wake feeling refreshed

  • You have lots of energy to get through the day

  • You are mostly in a good mood

  • You feel clear-headed.



What are signs of an unhealthy sleep pattern?


  • You have trouble getting out of bed in the morning

  • You struggle to focus

  • You are irritable

  • You suffer from depression and/or anxiety

  • You struggle to get through the day due to fatigue and a need for naps

  • You sleep much longer or later on your days off work or days with scheduled activities

  • If you are struggling with sleep there are things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene and your ability to get more continuous sleep and therefore deeper and more restorative sleep.




Our Tips for Getting A Good Night's Sleep


  • Practice healthy sleep hygiene such as keeping your bedroom at a neutral temperature and keeping devices out of the bedroom (phones, tablets, TVs)

  • Avoid caffeine or nicotine intake 6 hours before bed

  • Avoid alcohol intake 4 hours before bed

  • Avoiding eating 3 hours before bedtime

  • Avoid strenuous exercises 4 hours before bedtime

  • Please note these may vary depending on the individual




If you still struggle with sleep despite all of the above there may be underlying physiological or psychological factors impacting your sleep.


If you feel you are not managing your stress or are struggling with mood (depression, anxiety) it is recommended that you consult with your Doctor or Therapist. The path to improving sleep quality may be by addressing other underlying mechanisms or contributing factors to poor sleep.



There are certain physiological/physical factors that may also be impacting your sleep.


These include:

  • Hormonal changes

  • Grinding/clenching teeth at night

  • Body aches and pains (e.g. back pain, jaw/TMJ pain)

  • Medical conditions such as arthritis, cancer, heart failure, Parkinsons

  • Chronic mouth breathing (due to dental procedures, chronic hayfever, sinusitis, asthma or learned behaviours and habits)

  • Sleep apnea

  • The impacts of chronic stress


Are you a mouth breather?


Signs you are a mouth breather at night


  • The need for glass of water by your bed, in case you get thirsty in the night

  • Waking with a dry mouth

  • Getting up frequently to go to the toilet (although other factors may contribute to this)

  • Waking throughout the night

  • Waking not feeling rested

  • Brain fog or fatigue throughout the day



Tips to promote optimal breathing during sleep


  • Sleep on your side

  • By sleeping on your back, you are more likely to sleep with your mouth open and snore

  • Sleep with your mouth closed. There are a range of options to assist with this.

  • Practice bedtime breathing exercises with a focus on breathing in/out slowly through your nose and using your diaphragm



At RedoHealth, we now have a Functional Airway Specialist, Roger Price, available for Comprehensive Breathing Assessments.



This Assessment includes:


  • Complete history and discussion of matters of concern.

  • Full digital posture analysis with report and pictures sent to you.

  • Full breathing assessment covering mechanics, dynamics and chemistry.

  • Simple but complete explanation about breathing, the process, the reasons and the issues.

  • Stress management and breathing guidance App included.

  • Two week guided breathing program with ongoing monitoring and reporting.

  • Access by text or email for any questions or issues arising.


For more information see here.




References:


https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene


https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html


http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips


Van Sumeren, E. J. W., Cirelli, C., Dijk, DJ., Van Cauter, E. V., Schwartz, S., Chee, M. W. L. (2015). Disrupted Sleep: From Molecules to Cognition. Journal of Neuroscience. 35 (41): 13889-95.



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