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If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, one way to help yourself is by getting regular exercise.

 

The National Sleep Foundation reported that 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous activity weekly can improve the quality of sleep by 65 percent. Exercise can even help people with insomnia. Studies have found that adults with insomnia began falling asleep and staying asleep longer after several weeks of regular exercise. And their sleep was better quality.

 

Now, vigorous exercise right before bedtime may be a bad idea for most people. A strenuous workout late at night can stimulate the body and potentially keep you up instead of letting you get to sleep. However, some yoga, stretching, or meditation before bed can help you wind down from the day and give both your body and mind a chance to relax.

 

Exercise is also recommended for people with sleep apnea, a form of sleep-disordered breathing in which the sufferer stops breathing and wakes multiple times an hour during sleep. It’s estimated that some 22 million Americans suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea, and 80 percent of those cases going undiagnosed. Exercise can help with weight loss and one of the causes of sleep apnea—overweight or obesity. Excess weight can mean extra tissue at the back of the throat, further compounding the problem of the collapsing airway, which causes the hallmark breaks in breathing. But exercise on its own was also found to reduce sleep apnea symptoms by 25 percent in one study.

 

While exercise is important to good overall health, sleep is crucial to life. Yet lack of sleep has become a near epidemic in this country. People have come to accept lack of sleep as a way of life. But a body deprived of sleep can’t function. Period. No matter how much you may try to stave off sleep—for study or work or other reasons—at some point, you will fall asleep. You have no choice in the matter. as it’s physiology and you can’t resist it, which is why you shouldn’t drive while sleep deprived.

 

Voluntarily staying awake for longer hours is one thing. But sleep apnea doesn’t make it a choice. The severity of sleep apnea is based on the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), which measures the number of breathing disruptions per hour lasing at least 10 seconds. Currently, sleep apnea is only considered to be present when there are five or more pauses per hour. A value over 45 is considered extremely severe sleep apnea—45 times per hour the person stops breathing. We had one patient that, when tested, was found to have 87 pauses per hour!

 

With obstructive sleep apnea, which is what we focus on at the Julian Center, the tongue can fall back into the throat and essentially cause snoring as well as choking during sleep. Our treatment is designed to get the tongue out of the back of the airway by either pulling the jaw forward or by expanding the arches to make room for the tongue. The center’s holistic approach also includes addressing other issues to help you get a better night’s sleep including sleep hygiene, psychoemotional needs, oral-structural imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies that can lead to sleep-disordered breathing.

** AHI is a combination of apnea events (stop breathing) and Hypopnea (reduction of Oxygen saturation by 4%) A comprehensive sleep study is necessary to determine the ratio of either in the AHI.