Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Fitness Trackers" may provide misleading information on your sleep quality.

As wearable fitness trackers have become en vogue, physicians are voicing growing concerns over their actual usefulness in a patient's health regime. These devices count your steps, measure your sleep and some even monitor your heart rate, however most of them rely on simple accelerometers and their methods of interpreting the data may not be as accurate as they lead you to believe.

Experts say that while most trackers can in theory tell when a person is awake versus asleep, they are prone to mistakes. And as far as distinguishing sleep stages, trackers that include only an accelerometer as their sensor, "can't do what they claim," said Hawley Montgomery-Downs, a sleep researcher and associate professor at West Virginia University, who has studied the accuracy of sleep trackers. A persons sleep is usually evaluated through a scientifically structured sleep lab test, known as polysomnography.
In 2011, Montgomery-Downs and colleagues compared data from  trackers to polysomnography tests, looking at adults who wore trackers while also undergoing an overnight sleep test. They found that the tracker overestimated the time participants were asleep by 67 minutes, on average.
"It says you are asleep more often than you accurately are," Montgomery-Downs said. The study also found that an actigraph, another device that also uses an accelerometer to monitor sleep and is sometimes used in sleep studies, overestimated sleep time by 43 minutes. Another study, presented at a sleep researchers' meeting in November 2013, found the opposite effect in children -the tracker underestimated how long the children were asleep by 109 minutes.

Although an accelerometer monitors your movement, "you move the same amount whether you're in deep sleep, or lighter stages of sleep," Montgomery-Downs said. Experts worry there may be a danger in consumers putting too much trust in these devices to accurately monitor sleep, especially users who have sleep disorders.
For people without sleep disorders, using a fitness monitor to track sleep isn't going to hurt or help them,
but if someone does present with a sleep disorder, tracking sleep with one of these monitors might give them a false reassurance. And sleep trackers with only an accelerometer cannot provide much insight into the quality of sleep. For instance, a person with sleep apnea may stop breathing 300 times a night, but this wouldn't be detected.

According To Dr. Jerald Simmons, a sleep study provides important information about what occurs during sleep and is designed to identify factors that cause sleep disruption. Typically, a study is done to identify breathing problems or limb movement problems during sleep. Once asleep, being hooked up to the wires does not prevent these types abnormal events from occurring. However, it is important that a person falls asleep during the test.It is important to mention that a sleep study is not designed to identify causes for difficulty falling asleep. If a person’s main sleep problem is difficulty falling asleep, treatment can be initiated without a sleep study, but does require a detailed assessment by a Medical Doctor, Nurse practitioner or Physician Assistant who understands the issues of Sleep Medicine.

CSMA's sleep centers throughout Greater Houston provide treatment to patients sufferering from snoring and obstructive sleep apnea disorders. For more information on how to stop snoring and obtain help for sleep apnea call us today at (281) 407-6222.

References: Fitness Trackers & Sleep: How Accurate Are They? -Rachael Rettner, January 20, 2014 fitness trackers and sleep

Sunday, January 12, 2014

TMJ (TMD) and Sleep Bruxism Associated with OSA

Teeth clenching or grinding - known as bruxism - is a common problem that may lead to headaches, facial pain and TMJ disorder.

 Bruxism has puzzled dentists and physicians for years, limiting the successful treatment of these disorders. Research conducted by neurologist and sleep disorder specialist Jerald H. Simmons, M.D. has demonstrated that a main cause of bruxism relates to breathing problems during sleep, such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Years of observation and experience in treating patients with OSA and bruxism led him to recognized the relationship of these conditions; with the assistance of Ron Prehn, DDS, they began studies on more than 700 patients with OSA.
This is the first research in the world to conclusively demonstrate that bruxism during sleep is actually an attempt to bring the jaw and tongue forward. Nocturnal bruxism stops the back of the tongue from blocking the airway and, is the brain's way of preventing this blockage from occurring.

Dr. Simmons treats patients with a variety of methods including CPAP masks that fit over the nose to deliver positive pressure; special dental appliances that bring the jaw forward to open the back of the airway, and in some cases surgical procedures which remove crowded tissue in the back of the throat. In some patients a combination of all these treatments are needed. Dr. Prehn has assisted in designing customized CPAP masks for some patients which are held on the face using a special dental appliance, eliminating the need for straps on the head and chin.

One of Dr. Simmons' patients,  Diane F. states that "... I saw multiple doctors, and none of them were able to take care of my symptoms. As soon as Dr. Simmons' treatment opened up my airway, my clenching stopped... I think Dr. Simmons' research has found that missing link."

Other conditions treated at Dr. Simmons Sleep Center, Comprehensive Sleep Medicine Associates (CSMA) include:
ADHD, which is now recognized to frequently result from poor, non-restorative sleep;
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue, both of which are also recognized as a result of sleep problems; and
• Morning headaches, a condition usually resulting from disturbances in sleep that is not properly diagnosed in many patients.

Doctors Simmons and Prehn have presented their results to dentists and physicians at national medical and dental conferences. This new concept has created a wave of interest within the dental field, as most dentists are challenged by patients with bruxism. They have a new prospective and alternative approach in treating these patients.
"It is amazing how much improvement we can provide in patients by properly treating disturbances in their sleep," Dr. Simmons said.

CSMA's sleep centers, founded and directed by Dr. Simmons, are found throughout the greater Houston area. For more information about his work and the sleep center, visit