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PHOENIX (Twilight Clinic) - Sleep. It’s essential to every aspect of our well-being, both mentally and physically. Making sure we get good sleep is one of the best things we can do for ourselves in terms of self-care. And it should be easy, right? Sleep is a natural process. It takes no effort on our part.
If only getting good sleep were that easy
If you wake up tired morning after morning, you’re not getting good sleep. And you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults in the U.S. reported getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep a night. That’s a lot of tired people.
Why good sleep is essential
A good night’s sleep is not something that’s nice to get every now and then. It’s not a treat. Solid, restful sleep is necessary.
“Well, I get eight hours every night. Isn’t that enough?” you ask. The short answer is no. When it comes to sleep, it’s all about quality. If you have a tough time falling asleep or wake up during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep, that’s not eight hours. If you think you slept long enough but wake up tired, you’re not getting quality sleep. That means the things that are supposed to happen while you’re asleep are not happening how they should.
Poor sleep and sleep deprivation severely affect you mentally and physically – everything from memory issues, trouble concentrating, and mood swings to weakening your immune system, causing weight gain, and putting you at risk for high blood pressure and diabetes.
Many things can affect your quality of sleep. Some of them are in your direct control. Others require the help of a doctor experienced in sleep medicine - somebody like Dr. James Davis of Twilight Clinic. We’ll get to him in a minute.
You’ve probably heard the term sleep hygiene before. It refers to the atmosphere and routine you set for yourself every night to try to get better sleep.
First, you want to create a stable sleep schedule. That means going to bed at the same time every day and getting up at the same time every day. Seven days a week. No “sleeping in” on the weekends or when you’re off work. You need to teach your body when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to be active.
Next, make your bedroom comfortable and get rid of anything that might be distracting. Including mobile devices. Especially mobile devices. Blue light from your phone or tablet signals your brain that it needs to be awake. Even if you have a blue light filter, scrolling through content engages your brain, even if it’s just mindless cat videos or memes. Mindless scrolling is not genuinely mindless. Whatever you’re looking at, you’re asking your brain to do its thing. It can’t shut down and allow you to sleep if it’s working.
“Ideally, your bedroom should be free from televisions, tablets, phones, and laptops,” according to the National Sleep Foundation. “If it’s not possible to remove blue-light emitting electronics from the bedroom completely, simply turn them off and stop using them at least an hour before you go to bed.”
This goes hand in hand with a structured pre-sleep routine that should not include TV or devices. Whatever process works for you - a relaxing bath, a cup of caffeine-free tea, a meditation session – your nightly ritual is a message to your body and your brain: “Hey, y’all, we’re winding down now and going to sleep soon.” If reading is part of your wind-down cycle, that’s fine. Just pick up a real book instead of your e-reader. And don’t read in bed.
Dim the lights as you move through your pre-sleep routine. It helps regulate your circadian rhythm.
Darkness is conducive to a good night’s sleep, so consider investing in blinds or blackout curtains.
Also, the temperature in your bedroom is important. The room should be cool. The National Sleep Foundation says between 60 degrees and 67 degrees is ideal.
Good sleep habits
The NSF breaks good habits down to six basic things – three during the day and three at night.
1. Get plenty of natural bright light during the day.
3. Eat meals at a consistent time.
1. Avoid heavy meals, nicotine, and alcohol before bed.
2. Wind down with a consistent routine.
3. Make your environment conducive to sleep.
Success is in the details and consistency is key. The lifestyle changes you make don’t have to be drastic.
“Even a few slight adjustments can, in some cases, mean the difference between sound sleep and a restless night,” according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
When good habits and proper sleep hygiene aren’t enough
If you’re doing everything right and you’re still not getting good quality sleep, there might be something else going on. Something medical that you need help to fix. That’s when it’s time to see a doctor like Dr. Davis at Twilight Clinic.
One of the most common thieves of good sleep is sleep apnea, which is interrupted or irregular breathing during the night. It comes in two flavors – obstructive and central. “If you have sleep apnea, your breathing can stop hundreds of times each night,” the National Sleep Foundation explains.
Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is the more common of the two. “That’s basically when the airway closes,” Dr. Davis explained. “People snore, and they stop breathing at night.”
“With central sleep apnea, your brain doesn’t give you the signal to breathe,” he continued.
While the causes of obstructive and central sleep apnea are different, the result is the same. You’re not getting the rest you need to function at your best.
Some doctors say the treatment of sleep apnea is virtually the same, no matter which kind is keeping you from the sound sleep you need and deserve -- A CPAP or APAP machine. With this treatment, you wear a mask either over your nose or over both your nose and your mouth. A piece of flexible tubing connects your mask to a bedside box.
A CPAP machine pushes a steady stream of air through your nostrils to open up your airway.
An APAP machine does the same thing, but rather than pushing air at the same pressure all night, it monitors your breathing for changes and adjusts accordingly.
The results can be immediate, but they come at a price, one of which is your comfort. The mask can cause skin irritation or be uncomfortable. The tubing can limit your movement or get tangled. Having to tote the machine with you when you travel is not convenient. Some people simply can’t tolerate the treatment.
CPAP and APAP machines are the old-school way of treating sleep apnea, but they are not the only way. Technology gives you options - ones that free you from the mask and tubing.
Twilight Clinic helps you disconnect from your bedside CPAP or APAP machine
Dr. Davis specializes in sleep medicine. It’s a relatively new field of medicine, and he’s right on the leading edge. He founded Twilight Clinic, a unique telemedicine clinic, specifically to help people like you get the restful, healing sleep you need and deserve. Your sleep is his focus.
“I’m here to help people and change people’s lives,” he said.
And what he does is life-changing. Good-quality sleep is everything, and Dr. Davis can help you get it.
If you’re using a CPAP or APAP and it’s not working for you, for whatever reason, Dr. Davis is the man to see. In addition to treating people with sleep disorders, he wants to educate them about their options.
Watch: Dr. James Davis of Twilight Clinic can help you get the great sleep you deserve
Inspire your sleep
One of those treatment options for people with moderate to severe OSA – remember, it’s the most common form of apnea – is a little device called Inspire. It’s an implant, and the maker says it’s “the only FDA-approved obstructive sleep apnea treatment that works inside your body to treat the root cause of sleep apnea with just the click of a button.”
Dr. Davis says the implant goes in your chest on the right side, and wires go up your neck to connect to the hypoglossal nerve. The Inspire device stimulates this nerve, causing your tongue to move forward and your throat to open up.
“It does it automatically,” he said.
Once your recover from the outpatient procedure to implant the Inspire - recovery time is about 30 days - Dr. Davis will activate and program your device. All you have to do is turn it on when you go to bed. Inspire syncs with your breathing when you fall asleep. And then the magic happens.
“So, when the patient is taking a breath, the device will sense that the patient is trying to breathe. It’ll send that signal to the throat to open the throat and move that tongue forward so they can get that breath in,” Dr. Davis explained. “It prevents the blockage from the sleep apnea.”
It’s not painful. Dr. Davis says patients tell him it feels like a little pull or tugging at the back of their throat.
“They don’t feel a stimulation or anything,” he said. “They just feel like their tongue is moving forward without them trying.”
If you’re awake during the night or need a drink of water, there’s a pause feature. And then, when it’s time to get up and tackle your day, you turn it off.
“It has been life-changing for the majority of my patients,” Dr. Davis said. “They love not having to wear the CPAP machine. They feel free.”
“I noticed that I was exhausted all the time -- constantly,” said Ellen Monroe of East Hampton, Connecticut. She’s had the Inspire device since December 2015.
She tried a CPAP machine, but she had trouble with the mask. “I could have put duct tape around my head, and I would have still found a way to rip that off.”
Her doctor was one of the first to use Inspire.
“I have a whole new outlook on life,” she said. And it’s a life she’s living to the fullest.
So can you.
Dr. Davis will work with you to determine if you’re a candidate for Inspire. It starts with a sleep study, possibly at home, to help determine what’s going on with you and your sleep. If obstructive sleep apnea is your primary problem, you and he will take the next steps and connect with the surgeon to do the implantation.
Inspire is for people with obstructive sleep apnea. So, what if you have central sleep apnea?
There’s remedē for that
The remedē System is a new treatment for people with central sleep apnea. It’s an implant like Inspire. It goes in the same place, on the right side of your chest. But instead of connecting to your hypoglossal nerve, remedē's wires go to the phrenic nerve in the blood vessels surrounding your heart.
The phrenic nerve controls your diaphragm, which in turn controls your breathing. When your diaphragm contracts, your lungs have room to take in air and expand. You inhale. When the diaphragm relaxes, your lungs push out that air. You exhale.
With central sleep apnea, your brain isn’t telling your phrenic nerve to contract your diaphragm so you can take a breath. The remedē System is designed to do what your brain.
“This device is really, really cool,” Dr. Davis said.
Like the Inspire, the remedē implant procedure is outpatient, and the recovery time is about 30 days.
“During that time, the device is learning the patient’s sleep habits,” Dr. Davis explained. It looks at your body position and how long you sleep. Once Dr. Davis activates remedē, it “fires” based on those parameters. You’ll follow up with Dr. Davis, and he will slowly increase the strength of remedē's stimulation until it’s perfect for you.
“It is virtually 100% successful in treating central sleep apnea,” he said. “And it’s had really good positive outcomes in patients with heart issues. This device, in the right patient, has been life-changing.”
That phrase again.
Dr. Davis said his first patient told him he was “like a new person.” Good sleep really does have profound effects on who we are and how we live.
“He’s sleeping for the first time in years,” Dr. Davis said of that first patient. “His mood has changed. He’s just so happy with it.”
Patients tell Dr. Davis say it’s not painful or uncomfortable when remedē makes them take a breath.
“So far, the patients that I have that have it say they like knowing it’s there when they feel it,” he said. “When they’re forced to take that breath without them doing it themselves, it’s comforting. They know that they can fall asleep and they’re going to be breathing all night.”
The remedē System is a game-changer for people with heart issues.
“The majority of patients who have the remedē device already have a pacemaker,” he said. “This device was made to help people with heart disease and heart arrhythmias who have central sleep apnea. It’s been really, really good for them.”
Dr. Davis says most insurance carriers cover both Inspire and remedē, but you’ll want to check with your carrier to be sure and see if they have any requirements or restrictions like weight or BMI thresholds.
About Dr. James Davis and Twilight Clinic
“I created Twilight to be able to reach as many people as I can to give them access to good sleep health care, no matter where they are in the state,” Dr. Davis said. He designed his practice to be “a convenient, affordable, and effective alternative to in-clinic sleep disorder diagnosis and treatment centers.”
Dr. Davis started in internal medicine and then moved to pulmonary medicine. The transition from that to sleep medicine was natural for him. He did a fellowship in sleep medicine and became board certified.
“There aren’t a lot of us out there,” he said. “There’s a shortage of sleep doctors and sleep medicine as its own specialty is not really known.”
“But sleep does affect everyone’s health,” he continued. “It’s just as important as food and water.”
You wouldn’t deprive yourself of food and water, right? So, why are you depriving yourself of good sleep?
Make an appointment with Dr. Davis at Twilight Clinic. He might be able to help you get the sleep you need and deserve, and change your life in ways you can’t imagine.
Questions? Call 480-848-7030
3420 South Mercy Road, Suite 300, Gilbert, AZ 85297
21803 N. Scottsdale Road UNIT 200, Scottsdale, AZ 85255