Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Sun, Jan. 26

Column: CPAP equipment doesn't fit right

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I have sleep apnea and use CPAP. My problem is that whenever I turn on my side my mask falls off my face. I find it off in the morning. As a result, the computer chip in the machine says I have it on for less than three hours a night. My doc says that is not enough to prevent heart attacks or strokes. Any ideas? I'm at my wit's end.

A: Yes, what you are describing is a very common occurrence when you turn your head to the side--your mask is becoming dislodged. Go online and type in "sleep apnea contour pillows." You will find a variety of pillows that are recessed at the sides. These were developed for just your type of problem. They are inexpensive and very effective.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I have been taking Xanax to help me sleep for years. I read where a study showed chronic use can increase your chances of getting Alzheimer's. My doctor suggested we taper me off and if my insomnia is still a problem, we try the new medication called Belsomra (suvorexant). Anyway, isn't it just like Xanax (alprazolam)?

A: No, it is completely different. Xanax is a benzodiazepine that increases the production of GABA, the major neurological depressant of nerve conduction in the brain. Suvorexant is a completely new type of medication that blocks the ability of Orexin, the major wake promoting neurotransmitter in the brain, to act on areas of the brain that promote wakefulness. So far, it has been shown to be safe with few side effects. Of course, the best way to go is to observe good sleep hygiene and fall asleep without any drugs.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Can sleep apnea cause diabetes? My dad snores and my mom says he stops breathing. He just had a yearly physical and his doctor said he has borderline diabetes.

A: Yes, sleep apnea has been implicated as a cause of diabetes. In fact, the American Diabetes Association feels that people with diabetes should be screened for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes insulin resistance, the major cause of type 2 diabetes. Tell your dad to talk to his doctor about his snoring and make sure your mom goes with him.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Is it true that sleeping too little can make you fat?

A: Great question, and the answer is yes. When we get too little sleep, (less than seven hours a night on a chronic basis), most studies show we gain weight. Our bodies make too much ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone, and not enough leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone. We believe the trend to sleep less in America is a major cause of obesity.

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