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Sleep apnea overview
What is sleep apnea?
Common sleep apnea risk factors
Common sleep apnea symptoms
Screening for sleep apnea
Testing for sleep apnea
Sleep apnea treatment options
Oral appliance therapy treatment
CPAP treatment
Positional therapy
Sleep Duration
Oxygen and Breathing
Heart Rate
Sleep Hygiene - What is it?
Sleep Tuning: Sleep Duration
Sleep Tuning: Breathing
Sleep Tuning: Side Sleeping
Sleep Tuning: Health Habits
Best practices for healthy sleep

Sleep Duration

Cell renewal and tissue growth is a natural part of the sleep cycle. Here are healthy sleep duration targets for every age and phase of life.

With the onset of puberty and adolescence, teens require more sleep each night than the average adult. The recommendation is 8-10 hours per night.

On the whole, adults who are out of their teenage years but have not yet reached senior citizen status require 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

Those over the age of 65 should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. The circadian rhythms of a more aged population are also different than adults of younger ages. The elderly tend to become more tired earlier in the evening and wake up much earlier in the morning.

Insomnia, alcohol consumption and caffeine consumption can impact sleep quality and duration. Getting up to urinate and disrupted breathing can also interrupt sleep duration and can diminish that feeling of being well-rested. Try keeping track of your sleep with a simple journal, noting your sleep duration as well as your activities from the previous day.

When you make sleep a priority, you’re giving yourself the gift of better health and a longer life.

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Oxygen and Breathing

As we fall sleep, our breathing rate becomes more steady and regular. Getting oxygen to our tissues and cells is especially important, as sleep is a reparative time for our bodies.  

However, our breath can be interrupted if our airway relaxes too much, resulting in depleted oxygen levels. Here are some strategies to help boost oxygen saturation while you sleep.

Try side sleeping
Many studies have shown that sleeping on your side increases oxygen flow and decreases the instnaces of stopped breathing events.

Decrease and manage your stress
There are many strategies for stress management: meditation, coaching, yoga, even mindfulness apps or doing an audit of the pain points in your work week.

Avoid alcohol before bed
Due to the oxidative process required to successfully metabolize alcohol in your body, it is not recommended to have alcoholic beverages before going to sleep.

CPAP
By using a gentle, steady stream of air, this special breathing machine keeps our respiration pathways open at night, ensuring consistent breathing.

If you feel you are not getting enough oxygen during sleep, see a doctor who specializes in sleep health.

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Heart Rate

A healthy resting heart rate for adults is between 60-100 beats per minute. While sleeping, it can dip to a range of 40-100 bets per minute. While having a slight fluctuation in heart rate during sleep is normal, it is important to understand the causes of more noticeable spikes.

Your heart rate is governed by the two branches of the autonomic nervous system, the involuntary branches that ensure all the necessary functions of the body happen on their own. They release special hormones, causing the heart rate to accelerate and slow down, depending on what your body is doing.

Factors like exercise, caffeine consumption, stress, digestion, and high levels of excitement can cause the heart rate to accelerate temporarily. Another catalyst of increased heart rate while sleeping is obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea occurs when the body’s respiratory functions lesson or temporarily cease during sleep. When this happens, the brain recognizes that things aren’t right, and wakes the sleeping person up, kickstarting normal breathing functions once again.

Not only is a person’s sleep quality compromised because of OSA, these apneas also cause the heart to beat faster than usual.

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Sleep Hygiene - What is it?

Good sleep hygiene consists of habits and routines that help you sleep well on a regular basis. Think of it as a set of practices that set you up for success for when your head hits the pillow and when you wake up the next morning.

How is this done?

First, look at your environment. Is your sleeping space of a temperature, level of darkness, and noise level that is conducive to your comfort? Take a look at your bed linens as well as what you wear to bed to ensure you aren't too warm. It's recommended to sleep in a room that hovers around 65 degrees.

Look at your lifestyle, too. Choosing to have caffeine in the afternoon or an alcoholic beverage close to bedtime can create unnecessary sleep issues. Keep screens, including your phone, turned off when it's getting close to bedtime, as the light they emit can keep you awake for longer than you intend.  

Having healthy, consistent sleep hygiene is one of many ways to breathe easier during sleep.

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Sleep Tuning: Sleep Duration

Tuning your sleep involves consistently sleeping the optimal amount of hours.

Teens require 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Adults under the age of 65 require 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Those over the age of 65 should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. This is because the circadian rhythms of those of a more advanced age are also different than younger adults.

Ensure your eyes come in contact with sunlight as soon as you are awake. This sends signals to the brain that it is time for your day to begin.

Keeping a simple sleep journal and noting things like bedtime, exercise activity, and alcohol consumption and caffeine consumption and how they impact sleep quality and duration. Getting up to urinate and disrupted breathing can also interrupt sleep duration and can diminish that feeling of being well-rested.

Also take note of any bouts of insomnia. Some insomnia is caused by temporary external stressors and lasts for three weeks or less. If you are experiencing insomnia that lasts longer than three weeks, see a sleep health professional.

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Sleep Tuning: Breathing

Being able to fully inhale and exhale during sleep is very important because it fills your blood with oxygen. Maintaining a fresh supply of oxygen throughout the night helps your body and brain renew themselves and complete certain tasks that can only be done as you sleep.

Numerous studies have shown that sleeping on your side can help increase your oxygen intake. Oxygen intake during sleep is often helped or hindered by the position of the sleeping person. Remember, your body can't store oxygen up and save it for later; it can only work with what it immediately has.

When laying down flat on our backs, gravity and body weight work against us. Gravity pushes down on our chest, diaphragm and neck, diminishing our lung capacity and collapsing our airway, causing a disruption to the natural flow of oxygen. Side sleeping alleviates the effect of gravity on the airway. This encourages healthier breathing and greater capacity for oxygen saturation.

A liscensed sleep professional can best assess your situation and make their recommendation for treating your sleep apnea and get you on the road to better sleep health.

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Sleep Tuning: Side Sleeping

There is extensive documentation that sleeping on your side can help alleviate symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

OSA occurs when your air pathway collapses during sleep. This happens when the weight of your body presses down on your throat, creating temporary blockages and obstructing the flow of oxygen. This is especially common when you sleep on your back or stomach. Sleeping on your side, however, alleviates much of the negative effect that gravity has on your respiratory functions.

Treating sleep disorders via positioning is called positional therapy. These are available over the counter or via prescription. Most sleep positioners naturally coax the body into side sleeping. Sleep positioners can vary from angled foam wedges to wearable bumper belts and special padded shirts.

The Beddr SleepTuner is helpful in accurately tracking your sleeping position and your oxygen saturation levels throughout the night. It can also show you how your breathing changes when you change sleeping positions.

A doctor can best assess your situation and make their recommendation for treating your sleep apnea and get you on the road to better sleep health.

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Sleep Tuning: Health Habits

Developing good sleep hygiene will help you maintain a pattern of high quality sleep each night. Here are some actions worth trying out.

Good timing
Having consistent bedtimes and wake times, regardless of what day of the week it is, helps your body and brain settle into a healthy routine. Avoid naps whenever possible.

Sleep behavior
If you don't already have a pre-sleep ritual, consider creating one. It doesn't have to be complicated - just have a simple routine that you do each night that sends signals to your brain that sleep is imminent. Try reading from a book (no screens), sipping herbal tea, meditation, or listening to relaxing music. Set up your bed as a place for sleep only. Avoid watching TV, eating or catching up on email when you're cozied up in bed.

Environment
Consider the amount of light and noise in your sleeping space. What helps you fall asleep and stay asleep? Be conscious of the temperature of your room (let things stay on the cooler side) and turn off anything with a screen at a minimum of one hour before bedtime.

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Best practices for healthy sleep

Practicing good sleep hygiene is immensely helpful in developing healthy sleep habits over time. Here are some tips on what to leave out of your routine.

Screentime
Close the laptop, turn off the TV and put your phone down. The light emitted from screen of all kinds can hinder the signals that our brain sends to our body that it's time for bed.

Nighttime libations
It's best to avoid nicotine and caffeine in the afternoon and evening, as they are stimulants that can keep us up when we don't mean to be awake. Some people think alcohol "helps" them fall asleep, but consuming alcohol late at night can give us a restless sleep experience as well as a higher likelihood of needing to urinate in the middle of the night.

Stimulating material
Consuming media that puts your brain on high alert is detrimental to good sleep hygiene. This could be anything from a scary movie to an intense argument on the internet. You know it when you see it, and it's best to leave it until the morning.

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