By: Frances Meredith, M.D.
“Sleep is the best meditation” – Dalai Lama
We all know sleep is precious. The world is a wonderful place when we awaken after a night of good sleep. Lack of sleep not only leaves us with lack of energy for our day, but also puts us at risk for many health issues from flares of autoimmunity to Alzheimer’s disease.
Could you have this “silent” sleep problem unrecognized by many doctors?
All of us are familiar with obstructive sleep apnea. A less known condition often referred to as sleep apnea’s “silent sister”, also can cause the same daytime fatigue and can contribute to many health issues as well. This condition is known as Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome or UARS and can be due to a naturally narrowed airway (often in someone thin or ideal body weight), a tongue falling back into the airway, or loose throat tissue. This causes “micro awakenings” occurring throughout the night, often without snoring or the sufferer even realizing it. This causes fatigue, increased stress responses often with sensitivity to emotional triggers, light, sound, and/or weather changes. It can also cause low testosterone, tension headaches, anxiety and depression.
Many doctors have yet to hear about UARS. The first step is to suspect it with daytime fatigue or any of the symptoms listed above, and bring it up with a provider familiar with the condition. Testing can then be ordered, such as a home sleep apnea test and a peek in your mouth and airway as an initial evaluation. An in-lab study is more sensitive, however a home study can often pick it up and is certainly much easier especially during COVID times. Treatment can then be designed including a dental appliance or CPAP which has gotten so much more user friendly in the last several years.
If ongoing daytime fatigue is an issue for you call 919-999-0831 to schedule an initial visit or bring it up with your provider at CTW. Optimizing sleep is just one of the many factors that a Functional Medicine provider will investigate that supports optimal energy and brain function, but without it, life just doesn’t look as sweet.
Your Partner in Health!
Frances Meredith, MD