Lymphatic System’s Connection with Migraines and Sleep

In a study posted by the Washington Post, scientists studied lymphatic vessels for more than two decades. For more than 300 years it was accepted that the lymphatic vessels stopped at the brain. However, this recent study by scientists found new answers. Utilizing mice with glowing lymphatic systems, Kari Alitalo found that the heads of the mice glowed, which showed a link between the lymphatic system and the head. This is where migraines and sleep come into play.

A Migraine Connection

Harvard University researchers found that glymphatic flow (is a functional waste clearance pathway for the vertebrate central nervous system (CNS)) significantly decreases in the period just before a migraine. The intense pain of migraines is caused by inflamed nerves in the tissue that surrounds the brain. As a result of faulty clearance of molecular waste from the brain, it can trigger inflammation in these pain fibers, which leads to disturbingly painful headaches.

Sleep’s Role

Another link with the glymphatic flow is sleep–the system appears to process twice as much fluid during sleep as it does during the time awake. In this situation, the lymphatic system removed more of the protein when the mice were asleep than when they were awake. As suggested, over time sleep dysfunction may also contribute to Alzheimer’s and even brain illnesses. While you are sleeping, you clean your brain, so when you can’t sleep, your brain suffers–you need that time for housekeeping.

Sleep position is also important. When a person sleeps in an upright position, waste is not removed properly. Sleeping on your stomach is also not effective with the back being somewhat better. When laying on your side, it appears to show much better results. Sleep might not be the only way to improve glymphatic flow, but it is one of the better ways.

We need to continue to take these advancements and improve our services to our patients. With a connection between the lymphatic system, migraines and sleep, we can keep offering our patients the care they need to remain healthy and happy. Let’s take these advancements and work toward an improved understanding of the migraine and sleep connection with the lymphatic system.

Skipping Sleep Only to Catch Up Tomorrow Is Bad for Cognition

When our patients skip out on sleep and then try to catch up in the following days with longer bouts of sleep, it is tied to worse cognition–both in attention and creativity–in young adults. The more varied a person’s sleep patterns are, the worse their cognition declined across the week. In these instances, it makes learning and completing tasks quite difficult.

For this reason, we want to ensure our young adult patients are getting the appropriate amount of rest and screened for sleep apnea. Whether a person is completing a project, studying for school, or binge-watching their favorite show on Netflix, losing sleep and then trying to catch-up on sleep is never a good idea.

The Negative Effect of Skipping Sleep and Catching Up

Irregular sleep patterns have a negative effect on a person’s ability to focus for planning, making decisions, correcting errors, and remaining attentive while driving. Erratic sleep can also have a significant impact on creativity, meaning it is harder to think on your toes for various projects. Creativity is often described as a person’s ability to see a link between things that might seem unrelated at first, but then are able to create a link.

In addition to a lag in creativity, many young adults will experience a drop in their working memory, which enables them to hold memories for a short time while also completing a separate task. Sleep significantly improves creativity and memory, which is why it is important for us to ensure our patients are getting the sleep they need to complete daily tasks without issues.

Offer Treatment Options

If you notice your patients are experiencing signs of sleep deficiency or they mention how they crammed for an exam and lost sleep, but it’s ok because they will sleep this weekend, make sure you provide proper education. Inform those patients of the need for regular sleep every day and not just some days. Additionally, screen your patients for sleep apnea–there is a chance some patients might also be suffering from sleep apnea. When this is the case, no matter how much sleep they get, they will continue to struggle with their daily tasks. Be aware and look out for common symptoms so you can help your patients lead healthy, happy lives.

Let’s look deeper into cognition with young adults, so we can continue to provide the best care possible. What are ways you might look for signs and symptoms in your patients? Share your ideas and let’s see how we can continue to help!

How to Use Dr. Patel’s Educational Sleep Apnea Book

In March of 2015 I teamed up with Dr. Dillard to create Freedom from CPAP: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn’t Have To. Together we wanted to educate dentists and other physicians on sleep apnea and the options available for treatment. If you haven’t picked up this educational book on sleep apnea, I highly suggest purchasing at least one copy now. And, if you have already purchased the book, now what?

With the availability of this educational book on sleep apnea, I want to help you help your patients receive the care they need through better understanding. Purchase the book for yourself or your entire dental office. By reading this book you can take the next steps toward a better understanding of sleep apnea and the treatment options available. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can use this educational book to help your patients and staff in the area of sleep apnea.

Educate Patients on Sleep Apnea

The main purpose of this sleep apnea book is to get your patients “in the know” about sleep apnea. We work to inform you and your patients on sleep apnea and what it is–because not everyone understands this often debilitating sleep disorder. By understanding sleep apnea, your patients can take proactive steps toward better health.

Whether you sell this book to your patient, or give it to them, allow your patient to read this book for further knowledge of sleep apnea and treatment options available. The goal of this book is to educate patients on what sleep apnea is and what treatment options, other than CPAP, are currently available for comfortable care.

Maintain an Informed Dental Team

Freedom from CPAP: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn’t Have To can also be a beneficial tool for your office to read themselves while also sharing the information with patients. Supply this book for your team, or have them purchase the book to improve their knowledge and understanding of sleep apnea ($15 is a steal for a book these days!). While it is important for patients to understand this condition, it is even more important for your dental office to know sleep apnea, what it is and how to treat it. Knowledgeable staff members go a long way in helping with diagnosis and treatment of your patients.

Take charge of your office and your patients’ health by providing, “Freedom from CPAP: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn’t Have To.” The more your patients and staff know, the better they are equipped to take the next steps in sleep apnea recognition and treatment. Click here to purchase Freedom from CPAP: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn’t Have To.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is often associated with Mother’s Day or the upcoming Memorial Day, but did you know that it is also Mental Health Awareness Month? It is, which means we have a duty to educate our patients, too. The color for mental health is green and can be seen all over. After all, Brandon Marshall began wearing lime-green cleats for mental health while playing with the Chicago Bears in October 2013.

Brandon Marshall and Mental Health

Marshal has been very public about his diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. And, since he violated the NFL’s dress code by wearing lime green cleats, he was fined $10,500. While he might have been fined by the NFL, the national news media bombarded him with attention so it did not fall upon deaf ears. Marshall ended up donating another $10,500 to a mental health organization.

Mental Health and Sleep Apnea

We face numerous struggles, both privately and publicly. And patients with sleep apnea aren’t just stuck dealing with its physical effects. Sleep apnea can also cause complications with:

Depression – A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people with sleep apnea were more likely to experience depression than people without it. Disturbances in sleep can affect mental health and the stress of having it is enough to send some people into depression. However, sleep apnea is particularly likely to interfere with mental health because of the reduced oxygen supply to the brain at night, which can alter brain functioning and increase a person’s likelihood of developing depression.

Anxiety – Sleep apnea affects people while they’re sleeping, which can be particularly jarring. Some people have to wear special masks connected to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to ensure that they breathe normally throughout the night and the threat of breathing problems can cause severe anxiety. In turn, this anxiety may make sleep problems worse and sleep deprivation will continue to contribute to both depression and anxiety.

Many problems associated with sleep apnea are interconnected—even stress throughout the day can make sleep apnea worse at night. With the availability of oral appliance therapy and other treatment options, we can help our patients not only find relief from their sleep apnea, but from mental conditions as well.

So, for the month of May and onward, let’s continue to educate our patients and help them to improve their sleep and overall health.