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 Can Multiple Sclerosis Sleep Apnea

Contribute to MS Sleep

Problems and MS Fatigue? 

When it comes to Multiple Sclerosis sleep apnea can be a more common problem for disrupting sleep than you think!

When it comes to sleep apnea, 10 out of every 100 people have sleep apnea, but a whopping 40% to 50% of people go undiagnosed for most or all of their lives!

This is what is being reported for people not diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

For those of us diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, often the occurrence of sleep apnea is even a higher percentage than that of the average person.

Multiple Sclerosis is known for confusing or causing damage to the nerves through out the central nervous system.

Often sleep disorders are a result of the way that the brain interprets or misinterprets brain signals and disruptions to the wake-sleep cycle or to the circadian rhythm of the body.

When it comes to sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, Multiple Sclerosis has a much higher incident rate, since MS can set us up for many more sleep disorders, because of the nature of Multiple Sclerosis.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where the person experiences shorter periods of time  where breathing stops temporarily during sleep, anywhere from a few times a minute up to as much as 100 times per minute.

Often Multiple Sclerosis sleep apnea results in the affected person feeling sleepy or even very exhausted during most of  each, during the daytime waking hours.

The person with sleep apnea often wakes up a few times per minute, at least partially, to allow the airway to fully open up to free the obstruction that is preventing the person from breathing normally.

To determine if sleep apnea is present or to determine if some other type of sleep disorder is present, the person with the sleep problems is observed during an overnight sleep study.

During the sleep study, leads are placed on different points on the head, face, arms, legs and other points to collect data as to how the body and brain responds during the night time sleeping hours.

Heart rate, heart rhythm, breathing rate, brain wave activity, skin temperature, oxygenation saturation levels of the air that is breathed, night movements and positions, and sleep cycles are monitored to gather data to determine which of the most common sleep disorders are present.

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders that can disrupt sleep and leave the person feeling exhausted.

Since Multiple Sclerosis tends to include exhaustion or fatigue with it, often the exhaustion that is being experienced is blamed on the MS fatigue and is not considered to be anything else for a longer period of time before it is even suspected that sleep apnea can be contributing to the exhaustion that is being experienced by those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Because of this problem, often MS patients, who are also experiencing problems with sleep apnea go for much longer periods of time, even years, being undiagnosed with sleep apnea, which just prolongs the whole host of problems that going for longer periods of time with sleep deprivation can cause.

When it comes to prolonged or more severe Multiple Sclerosis sleep apnea much more severe fatigue can result which can affect how well our brains can function, increase MS cognitive problems, increase the amount of daily stress that we are going through daily, increase the effects of MS attacks on the body.

Longer periods of going with very little restful sleep for days, weeks or even years can result in all kinds of brain function problems including:

* problems understanding what other people are saying to you

* problems with scrambling letters, numbers words, or concepts (dyslexia)

* difficulties organizing words, thoughts or ideas for being able to speak

* memory problems -- you don't sleep for a longer period of time, both short term and long term memory can be severely affected

Sleep apnea can also cause more problems with dizziness, experiencing headaches, experiencing periods of passing out.

Overnight sleep studies are performed, where data is collected for several ways that the body and brain reacts during sleep to figure out what type of sleep disorder may be present.

During the sleep study data is collected on:

* breathing rate

* amount of oxygen being breathed in through the nose while you sleep

* temperature of skin

* pulse and heart rhythm

* leg movements (checking for restless syndrome)

* eye movement (this is to determine if you are entering the deepest stage of sleep where your body actually rests called REM sleep (short for rapid eye movement)

* brain wave activity is measured (this is to monitor what stages of sleep are being gone through during sleep, since brain wave activity speeds up and slows down during the different stages of sleep.

Other data is collected to determine if you wake up and go back to sleep at all while sleeping to determine the number arousals and to determine what may be causing you to wake up and disturb your natural sleep cycles, that can be contributing to your daytime fatigue or sleepiness.

Sleep studies also gather data to determine which of the 3 main types of  sleep apnea are being experienced (if sleep apnea is even present).

The 3 main types of Multiple Sclerosis sleep apnea that are most commonly experienced, are:

*  Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is where a structural defect, such as a deviated septum or some type of structural obstruction of the sinus or other part of the airway exists that can interfere with breathing during sleep.

This is the more common type of sleep apnea that is seen for both people who have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and for those who do not have MS.

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by a restriction in the flow of air to the airway, which can either be caused by a physical obstruction, like a deviated septum in the nasal passages or a structural problem where the airway relaxes or collapses too much during sleep, thus also restricting airflow.

Often surgery can be used to repair the obstruction, but at times, the surgery can only correct part of what is causing the sleep apnea.

This can also describe a problem where the airway can relax or partially collapse during sleep, restricting the person's ability to breathe freely during sleep.

Surgery can not be used to help correct this type of obstructive sleep apnea.  A positive air pressure mask is often worn to force the airway open and deliver more oxygen to the brain to help correct or alleviate this type of sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is often hereditary, but at times this type of sleep apnea can also appear later in life without appearing to be related to being hereditary.

Injury to the central nervous system or damage from an accident can also contribute to obstructive sleep apnea in some ways.

* Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea is more of a brain function problem of the central respiratory portion of the brain that can interfere with correct breathing while sleeping.

Often Multiple Sclerosis can confuse how the brain interprets nerve signals that can scramble the wake sleep cycle and confuse the brain's ability to interpret our abilities to breath normally while sleeping.

Central sleep apnea can be more difficult to get under control and the positive pressure sleep mask or CPAP machines can only help so much in correcting this type of problem.

* Combination Sleep Apnea

Combination sleep apnea can be a problem where there is a structural problem that obstructs breathing freely at night combined with the brain function problems that are associated with central sleep apnea.

Often the structural part of the problem can be corrected using surgery, as in the case of a deviated sepium located in the sinuses.

The resulting problems that can result is where the brain has been so used to their being an obstruction for so long that the brain still acts like the obstruction is still present after if has been removed or corrected.

This problem can often be corrected by retraining the brain using Biofeedback Neurostimulation to the brain to retrain the brain to function better, once the obstruction has been removed.

This method of removing or correcting the obstruction in combination with retraining the brain can often help many people with sleep apnea related to the effects of Multiple Sclerosis on the central nervous system.

Biofeedback neural stimulation of the brain can also be used to help alleviate the problems with sleep apnea to some degree, regardless of the type of sleep apnea that is present in the majority of the cases of sleep apnea combined with Multiple Sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis sleep apnea often results in a reduced amount of adequate oxygen in the blood stream and a reduced supply of adequate oxygen to the brain to allow for restful sleep and to aid in the proper function of the brain and other processes through out the brain.

When sleep apnea is present this can cause the person to feel tired all of the time, even after just waking up from a longer night of what appeared to be sleep.

When sleep apnea is severe enough, it may even contribute to dizziness, feeling nauseous after eating, feeling exhausted all of the time and maybe even to episodes of passing out, blacking out or losing consciousness in some way.

Having Multiple Sclerosis present with the sleep apnea can greatly increase the amount of fatigue that is being felt and add to the extreme problems, which can result from long term lack of restful sleep.

The person with sleep apnea can also feel like they are perpetually taking "cat naps" instead of actually feeling like they have slept much at all.

Most often the use of a continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machine is the main way that is used for the majority of cases of sleep apnea that are diagnosed each year to help supply extra oxygen to the brain and to help improve the person's ability to get more restful sleep during the sleep hours that we all need each and every day, just for us to be able to function each day.

A combination of surgery, biofeedback and the use of the CPAP machine can help to alleviate the problems that sleep apnea can cause with affecting Multiple Sclerosis sleep and help to correct the results of sleep apnea on the body.

Often the CPAP machine helps correct the sleep apnea problem for the most part where surgery is not needed at least right away.

If physical obstructions are present that can be contributing to sleep apnea and they are severe enough to restrict the ability to breathe adequately while sleeping, the sleep doctor and/or ear-nose-throat doctor will recommend getting surgery to remove the obstruction.

Going for surgery for a deviated septum, or to have tonsils or adenoids removed doesn't always correct the problem with sleep apnea.

There are times where the brain needs to be retrained that the physical obstruction is no longer there and the breathing habits during sleep need to be retrained or reprogrammed to function more like normal breathing while sleeping.

Biofeedback, breathing exercises, practicing yoga meditation, tai chi and other forms of exercise that include retraining and slowing down breathing to help you to relax can help to retrain the brain to help you learn to breathe more deeply and reduce the episodes where you tend to hold your breathe or stop breathing temporarily, while sleeping at night.

Getting restful sleep can make a huge difference for those of us diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis by helping our bodies to function better and reduce extreme sleepiness during the day.

In addition to reducing sleepiness, dealing with the Multiple Sclerosis sleep apnea can help to:

* improve oxygenation to the brain and the blood supply to the rest of the body

* improve our body's ability to rest, repair and replenish during the time that we sleep

* restore the ability of our brains to function better again

* increase the natural ability of bodies to produce a larger amount of stem cells to help repair the damage to the central nervous system that MS attacks on the body can cause

* help to reverse the effects of Multiple Sclerosis by allowing the myelin sheath, that has been damaged by Multiple Sclerosis attacking the spinal cord and the brain, to repair itself.

Going for a comprehensive general sleep study can help to determine if sleep apnea is a concern for each of us, who have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which may be preventing the ability of our bodies to help to reverse the effects of Multiple Sclerosis on attacking and damaging our nervous systems.

If we are experiencing more of the fatigue that is often associated with Multiple Sclerosis, is at least worth it for us to be evaluated for sleep apnea.

If sleep apnea is a problem for us, correcting or at least reducing the sleep apnea can go a long way to helping us to function much better and help to reverse many  of the effects of Multiple Sclerosis on our central nervous systems.

To find out more information about Multiple Sclerosis
and about ways to help reduce your symptoms of MS, complete the form below to subscribe to our FREE Multiple Sclerosis Report.

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