Normal sleep occurs in four stages and REM (rapid eye movement). You begin at stage 1 and go through each stage including REM sleep and then you begin the cycle again. Each complete sleep cycle takes from 90 to 110 minutes. Your brain acts differently in each stage of sleep. In some of the stages, your body may make movements, but in others your arms and legs will be immobile. Having good sleep habits will help you cycle through all stages of sleep and wake refreshed. Stages 3 and 4 are the most restful and deepest sleep but when a person is over-breathing or hyperventilating, they are prevented from easily reaching these stages and will remain primarily in the light and easily disturbed sleep stages 1 and 2.

Snoring

This is a common condition that occurs more frequently in men, but can affect anyone especially people who are overweight, and it has a tendency to worsen with age.

Occasional snoring is not very serious and is mostly a nuisance for your partner. However, if you are a habitual snorer, you not only disrupt your own sleep, but you impair your sleep quality.

What Causes Snoring?                                                     Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth or nose is physically obstructed. This obstruction can be from a combination of things including                            Obstructed nasal airways.  Some people snore only during allergy seasons or when they have a sinus infection. Deformities of the nose such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps can also cause  obstruction                           Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue: These muscles can be too relaxed, allowing them to collapse and fall back into the airway. This can happen because of deep sleep, alcohol consumption, and use of sleeping pills. Even aging can cause further relaxation of these muscles.                                                                                  Bulky throat tissue: Being overweight can cause bulky throat tissue. Also, children with large tonsils and adenoids often snore.                                                                             Long soft palate and/or uvula: A long soft palate or a long uvula can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat. When these structures vibrate and bump against one another the airway becomes obstructed, causing snoring.

BreathWay retraining exercises will help to normalize breathing and re-establish the proper use of breathing muscles.  With this the inflammation in the upper airways is reduced. Improved airflow means quieter breathing and less snoring. The correct balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide leads to appropriate triggering of the breathing response. It also increases oxygenation of the tissues and the quality of sleep improves.

Article on Missing Diagnosis of Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

This is a condition characterized by “stopping breathing” for more than 10 seconds at a time while asleep. A person with sleep apnea has the added difficulty of “arousal” occurring each time an apnea finishes with a gasping breath, dragging the person close to consciousness though not actually waking. This explains why it often takes a long time for a person to accept that they have a problem needing attention.

There are two types: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). Diagnosis of what type can be confirmed by a sleep study.

Typically, a person with sleep apnea will display:                    Loud snoring → silence → snorting/ gasping,  Mouth breathing, Restlessness, movement or kicking while asleep,  Dry mouth, Needing to remind oneself to breathe when awake, Waking tired, Lack of clarity or concentration,        Lack of energy, Falling asleep anywhere, anytime, quickly     Thirst, Breathlessness while exercising, Irritability.                                                                                               BreathWay retraining focuses on daytime breathing, re-establishing healthy automatic breathing which then starts to impact on breathing while asleep. Clients also learn strategies to support the breathing exercises while asleep – together, the result is improved sleep and a significant decrease in apneas quickly and permanently.

By diligently following the retraining exercises the Apneas will disappear at a varying rate depending on severity of the sleep apnea, physical condition, and whether a CPAP machine is being used or not.

Article on Sleep Apnea and dysfunctional breathing

Article on The Hidden Health Dangers of Sleep Apnea

What are the stages of sleep?

Stage 1: sleep is light sleep. You experience a drifting in and out of sleep. You can be easily woken up. Your eye movement and body movements slow down. You may experience sudden jerky movement of your legs or other muscles.

Stage 2: You are in light sleep. Your heart rate slows, your body temperature drops, eye movement stops and your brain waves become slower.Your body is getting ready for deep sleep.

Stage 3:  The first stage of deep sleep - During this stage of sleep it can be very difficult to wake someone up. If you are woken up, you may feel groggy and disoriented for several minutes.

Stage 4:  The second stage of deep sleep. In this stage the brain is making the slow delta waves almost exclusively. In this stage it is also very difficult to wake someone up. Both stages of deep sleep are important for feeling refreshed in the morning. If these stages are too short, sleep will not feel satisfying.

During the deep stages of NREM sleep, the body repairs and regrows tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system.

REM Sleep – Rapid Eye Movement REM - The sleep stage in which dreaming occurs. When you enter into REM sleep, your breathing becomes fast, irregular and shallow, both heart rate and blood pressure increase. Your eyes will move rapidly and your muscles become immobile.