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Why Sleep Apnea is Hurting Your Heart

Picture this: You are sound asleep, dreaming of a beach paradise, when all a suddenly your partner is shaking you awake. You look at them through bloodshot eyes, and they explain -for the tenth time that night- that you have been snoring. You nod sleepily, change your position, and go back to bed…only to get up that next morning to worship your coffee like a god because it is the only thing that will keep you awake that day.

Sound familiar? Well you are not alone! According to the American Sleep Apnea Association 22 Million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and the American Heart Association states that 1 in 5 adults suffer from, at the very least, mild sleep apnea. Evidence of this can be seen in a variety of ways, as you would know from previous posts. Symptoms range from daytime fatigue, insomnia, snoring in the night, headaches, mood swings, and more. For those of us who are used to no sleep, however, this can seem like not a big deal.

“So what if I’m always tired,” we tell ourselves. “Lack of sleep won’t kill me!” The only problem with this mentality is the less sleep you have the more certain science has become that it will, in fact, effect your heart.

The American College of Cardiology, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and even the American Heart Association have all linked sleep apnea with heart conditions. The AHA even states on their site that sleep apnea has been linked to arrhythmia, high blood pressure, stroke, and even heart failure. In fact, another study confirmed that male adults age 30-70 were at an extremely high risk of having a stroke or heart attack if they already had obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring in particular is a great sign you have obstructive sleep apnea, yet snoring is not your only problem. Central sleep apnea (which in my personal opinion is far harder to detect and is more damaging) rarely even presents itself through snoring. In fact, while obstructive sleep apnea is more common among over weight individuals, central sleep apnea can present itself in all shapes and sizes, which is a problem.

Experts agree that sleep apnea begets high blood pressure, and vise versa. It becomes a never-ending cycle of health problems and brings one closer to ever serious heart complications. Statics even show that 30-50% of adults with high blood pressure will have sleep apnea. With this news it can be overwhelming! It can almost feel like if you won the unlucky cosmic lottery and now if you have sleep apnea, or high blood pressure, you are doomed to have a lifetime of health problems along with a shorter lifespan which begs the question: What am I left to do?

The solutions may not be easy, but thankfully they are simple.

  1. Exercise

I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it! If I had a dime every time my physician told me I need to get physically active, I’d be rich…Unfortunately they are right.  Exercise is important for all aspects of your health and it is also very important for those with sleep apnea. Making sure you throw in cardio will also give you the double benefit of keeping your heart healthy, so get running!

  1. Limit Alcohol and Avoid Caffeine Before Bed

We all love our beer, but our beer does not love us. Same goes for that double-crossing coffee cup! If you are pulling a late night for work, or if you are wanting something to relax you when you get home from that same job you may want to reach for a cup of decaffeinated tea instead. It comes in a lot of great flavors, and chamomile may even give you the added benefit of helping you sleep later that night!

  1. Get a CPAP Machine

Out of all of these options, this may be the most important. CPAP machines, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machines, really save lives by keeping you breathing at night and helping you stay asleep. The American College of Cardiology has even gone as far as to state that treatment lowers high blood pressure! You will need to talk to your doctor and schedule a sleep study, or take a home sleep test, which will let you know exactly what therapy is right for you. Once you have learned what type of sleep apnea you have and what type of machine you need, ask about what features you can get and determine what is right for you and your budget. And of course, those of us at are always here to help you with any questions you may have and can easily be reached at 866-936-3754.


It is almost a universal truth that sleep apnea is hard to live with. It makes us tired, it makes us cranky when we least expect it, and it can affect our health. However, it is manageable! Through proper life changes, open conversations with our doctors, and CPAPs we can take back control of our lives and our health. We can even make our hearts healthier one night’s sleep at a time.

Cleaning and Storing your CPAP

As a new CPAP user, the thought of cleaning my mask and tube each morning seemed annoying at best.

If I was someone who showered in the morning, I would consider taking my tube and mask into the shower with me and just hanging it there to dry, but since I shower at night, this would not work for me. Since I like things to be as efficient as possible, so I devised a plan.

I had purchased a storage trolley a while back and it came in very handy for storing my CPAP and supplies.   The CPAP sits on the second shelf making it the perfect height for the CPAP as the machine should sit just below your mattress.  The mesh bottom of the compartments allow air to flow nicely around the machine at night and allows my mask, tubing and humidifier to dry well after washing.  I just roll this trolley with everything I need from my bed into my bathroom.  The bottom shelf holds a big bowl with all my cleaning supplies and towel.

I also like the trolley idea since it allows me to roll it into the closet and out of sight!

Cleaning your equipment is easy enough once you have a plan!

What is Sleeptember?

You may have been hearing chatter around the web about the Sleeptember campaign. If you’re not sure what that is, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Sleeptember is a social media campaign designed to raise awareness about the connection between sleep health and general well-being. Participants are encouraged to post on their personal social media accounts and to ask for donations from friends and family members to fund awareness and research efforts. The organizers of Sleeptember state that their goal is to change the way people look at sleep, improving the sleep and health habits of society as a whole.

Whos behind the movement?


Sleeptember is a program designed by the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) and its partners. The ASAA is a patient-led 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in 1990 with the goal of promoting awareness of sleep apnea and finding ways to improve treatments. In addition to members of the ASAA, Sleeptember coordinators include patients suffering from chronic health conditions, their advocates, various non-profit organizations, sleep experts and more. The diverse group of individuals work together towards the common goal of raising awareness of sleep-related health issues while simultaneously fundraising for research efforts.

The people behind the Sleeptember movement have successfully created a social media campaign that depends on small-scale networking. This model has proven to be very successful in the past in both raising awareness and raising money. Individuals are encouraged to join the movement and then share the group’s core message with their friends and family while posting links to fundraising websites.

Should you get involved?

If you’re comfortable asking friends and family for donations while you post about health conditions on your social media channels, you may be a great candidate for joining the movement. While you certainly don’t need a large list of friends or followers to make a difference, the more people that see your fundraising link, the more successful the campaign will be.

In addition to advocacy efforts, the group behind Sleeptember also promises that participants will get to engage in fun activities and events. These events and activities help forge personal connections and make people feel more connected to the movement. They’re also a fun way to reward people for their hard work and involvement.

How can you help?

Share, share, share! Because Sleeptember is a social media campaign, its success depends on people sharing fundraising links and spreading information. Encourage your friends and family to join the movement and educate those around you on the importance of getting enough sleep. Whether you suffer from a sleep disorder, know someone who does or have only heard about sleep disorders in passing, Sleeptember is a cause you can get behind. Get educated and educate others on the importance of sleep and the detrimental effects of too little sleep. Share the Sleeptember campaign with friends and family, and encourage them to donate to raise funds for research and advocacy programs. No matter how many friends or followers you have, you can make a difference. There’s power in numbers and every advocate counts.

The way we think about sleep is about to change and the Sleeptember campaign is leading the way. The people behind Sleeptember are passionate about making sure people get the sleep they need to stay healthy and are working hard to bring awareness to society. Joining the Sleeptember movement is easy and anyone can make a difference with just a few minutes of their time.

COPD and Sleep Apnea: Overlap Syndrome

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sleep apnea are two of the most common pulmonary diseases, and can even occur simultaneously. When an individual suffers from both COPD and sleep apnea, the condition is referred to as Overlap Syndrome, which can lead to a number of health complications. Typically, an individual with COPD will have fluctuating levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood during the day, but will get relief at night when they sleep. If they also have sleep apnea, the breathing is also disturbed at night, leading to further imbalances in their blood chemistry.

The Link Between COPD and Sleep Apnea

Studies have shown that individuals suffering from COPD are more likely to experience breathing difficulties while sleeping, whether they are diagnosed with full-fledged obstructive sleep apnea or just have some of the symptoms. In fact, up to half of COPD patients will also experience breathing difficulties at night. This may be due in part to the fact that COPD and sleep apnea both originate through the same mechanism where the muscles of the upper and lower airways do not function properly.

Diagnosis of Overlap Syndrome

Diagnosing Overlap Syndrome typically happens when a COPD patient complains of sleep problems. An overnight study is prescribed and during the assessment, blood oxygen levels and sleep patterns are observed. If an underlying sleep breathing issue is discovered, the patient may be diagnosed with Overlap Syndrome. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment can begin.

Treatment of Overlap Syndrome

Treatment of Overlap Syndrome focuses on maintaining proper blood chemistry throughout the day and night. Efforts are made to prevent or reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea, often using a CPAP machine in combination with supplemental oxygen. If the individual is obese, weight management or weight loss may be recommended as well as the proactive use of steroids to treat COPD symptoms.

Treatments may vary amongst individuals in order to find the right combination of therapies and exercises to maintain steady blood oxygen levels. Once diagnosed, treatment works quickly, immediately improving sleep and the overall health of the individual. For those diagnosed with COPD, it’s important to discuss any sleep issues you may be having with your doctor. Early and accurate diagnosis is key to receiving the best possible care.