Breathing through your nose may improve memory.

I recently read an article in the magazine Sleep Review and it was very interesting. In this article, it stated that breathing through your nose may actually improve memory. That really is great to hear and understand. This is based on a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience. In this study, researchers examined the effect of respiration on consolidation of episodic odor memory.

How memory works with sleep

Both female and male participants encoded odors. This was followed by a one hour awake resting consolidation phase where they either breathed solely through their nose or mouth. Immediately after this phase, memory for odors was tested. Recognition memory saw a significant increase during nasal respiration compared with mouth respiration.

From this we see the first evidence that respiration directly impacts consolidation of episodic events. It also supports the idea that core cognitive functions are modulated by the respiratory cycle–adding to the influence of respiration on human perception and cognition.

While the study did not look at brain activity, it did suggest that nose breathing may facilitate communication between sensory and memory networks. This is because memories are replayed and strengthened during consolidation.

Encourage your patients to take deep breaths through their nose to help improve their memory. This can also help their stress levels. It is an all around good idea for their health and well-being.

How to get a good night’s sleep infographic

Getting the proper amount of sleep each night is important for our patients’ health and well-being. As you know, this is because sleep is considered to be one of the biggest–and most underrated–factors in a person’s health. To help your patients get a better night’s sleep, take a look at the infographic below.

Feel free to download and print this infographic to share with your patients. Together we can provide our patients with the care they need to live healthier lives.

Comparing sleep apnea and quality sleep

There are about 90 million Americans that suffer from snoring during sleep. About half of these people are “simple snorers,” or primary snorers, while the other half might actually have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Knowing that so many patients might be suffering from OSA, it is important to help them understand how much quality sleep helps improve their health and well-being.

With so many people misdiagnosing themselves and inaccurately describing their condition, we need to continue to provide proper education for their reference. Understanding the differences between sleep apnea, snoring and quality sleep is important for our patients to better understand their condition.

To help your patients, I have created this infographic that looks at the differences between sleep apnea and quality sleep. Feel free to share it with them so they can see the impact of quality sleep versus sleep apnea on their health.  Take a look.

What other ways are you helping to educate your patients? I am always interested in hearing more from other dentists. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Study suggests hypoxia is the main cause of BP rise in sleep apnea

Patients who had previously used continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for the treatment of sleep apnea, found that it helped to eliminate their morning blood pressure elevations. It also substantially reduced hypoxia. In a recent study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, relative to treatment with supplemental air, pure oxygen was associated with a 6.6 mm Hg decrease in systolic and 4.6 mm Hg decrease in diastolic pressure.

What is the connection?

Obstructive sleep apnea has been known as a risk factor for hypertension and cardiovascular disease. However, it was not clear if that risk was associated with recurrent arousal or intermittent hypoxia, according to the study.

Understanding that supplemental oxygen reduced intermittent hypoxia but had only a minor effect on markers of arousal, makes a strong case for intermittent hypoxia being the dominant cause of daytime BP increases in patients with sleep apnea.

This study shows us that by blunting the dips in oxygen levels, the use of oxygen can have a positive effect on a person’s BP. We can start to look at patients with sleep apnea who have experienced high blood pressure that is not adequately treated with hypertension medication. According to this study, that specific group of patients should benefit from the use of oxygen therapy.

Oxygen improves BP

In this double-blinded study, CPAP was withdrawn for 14 nights during each treatment arm. During this time, participants received supplemental oxygen or regular air overnight through a face mask. The primary outcome was the change in home morning BP following the withdrawal of CPAP. Secondary outcomes included oxygen desaturation index, apnea hypopnea index, and subjective and objective sleepiness.

The use of supplemental oxygen significantly improved measures of intermittent hypoxia. There was also a significant reduction in heart rate rises index. While additional studies are needed to determine the best candidates for supplemental oxygen therapy, it is important to note these findings.

We, as dentists, can continue to treat sleep apnea patients with oral appliance therapy, but we should be mindful to other treatment options and what a sleep physician suggests for the best outcomes.