A column in today’s newspaper cited several local community leaders who shared their New Year’s resolution plans. Surprisingly, many said they will try to get a better night’s sleep in addition to the usual “lose weight and exercise more.”
There is no disputing the health benefits of getting enough sleep. What many may not know is how one’s weight and health can influence how you sleep.
According to Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida, sinus obstructions can make it difficult to breathe at night whether caused by colds, allergies, and other nasal obstructions.
“When you have to breathe through your mouth while sleeping, it prevents your nose from filtering and moistening the air you breathe which can lead to sleep disturbance,” said Neuzil. In addition to infections or allergies which cause nasal blockage, excess weight can be a factor.
“The extra weight crowds your airway and interrupts the flow of air,” explains Neuzil. “In some extreme cases, it can result in pauses in breathing called ‘apnea’ and can lead to many other health problems.”
If you are sick, have allergies or suffer from other factors which affect breathing, the potential for sleep disturbance intensifies.
Neuzil’s encourages adding the following to your 2013 resolutions to help reach the goal of more restful sleep:
- Avoid exposure to allergic triggers which means keeping pets out of your bedroom, washing bedding regularly to get rid of dust mites and staying inside when pollen peaks.
- Use an herbal-enhanced saline nasal spray before bed to help soothe and moisturize your nasal passages. The spray will also open up your sinuses so that you are more likely to breathe through your nose, as intended, instead of your mouth.
- Make lifestyle changes so that you eat healthier, stay active and lose weight.
- If sleep disturbances continue, see a practitioner to address any medical issues which could be contributing to your problems.
Airplanes can be like flying petri dishes because people travel with germs that can be dispersed throughout the cabin.
One of my all-time favorite stories about germs in airports was told by a friend who traveled to Greece with her young twins. While in line at JFK Airport security, the mom recalled looking around at the many people, of many different nationalities, who came from different countries. She thought about the diverse array of germs that must be floating around in that big room. And as she looked around, her eyes fell on her young daughter whose mouth encircled the top of a rope-line stanchion. Imagine her horror! The child did survive, by the way.
Traveling can make you more susceptible to getting sick because of the potential exposure to all sorts of bugs from a lot of people in close quarters. Plus, you run the risk of becoming dehydrated, especially during air travel, because of the high altitude. Our bodies need water to function properly, and that includes helping to fight off germs.
Few anticipate feeling lousy while going away for the holidays or a business trip. Arming yourself is easy and you’ll be glad you are prepared.
- Be sure to pack items for “just in case”: tissues, nasal irrigation, laundry soap to wash clothes that get particles trapped in the weave, hand sanitizer, etc.
- The dry air in-flight or visits to high altitudes can leave nasal passages parched and irritated. Swollen sinuses can cause additional discomfort due to the change in pressure during takeoff and landing. An herbal-enhanced nasal spray will soothe and moisturize your nose making it easier to breath.
- Your nose has natural protectants which help fight airborne bacteria and germs. When nasal passages are dried out, as when you’re on an airplane, those natural protectants don’t work as well. By moisturizing nasal passages, you can help ward off the germs your fellow passengers brought on board with them. A nasal spray can help. Also, drink lots of water, bring a mask to wear, and antiseptic wipes for surfaces you’ll touch.
Taking precautions can help protect you from getting sick so that you enjoy the holiday. Make sure not licking airport handrails is part of that protocol.
Mold spores may be the other “gifts” found under your Christmas tree.
You may be miserable this holiday season but not necessarily because of stress or visiting family.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, many people experience sniffling, itchy eyes and nose, and shortness of breath due to a Christmas tree allergy.
Some Conifer trees carry mold spores that trigger allergic reactions or even asthma.
If you and your family prefer a real tree over an artificial one, then try putting the tree in the garage or an enclosed porch for several days until it dries. Give it a good shake outside before bringing it in to decorate.
For many, it is a post-holiday annual tradition to store away holiday decorations. Wipe everything thoroughly as you unpack items from storage before displaying the decorations in your home so dust won’t irritate your sinuses.
We traditionally associate certain fragrances with the holidays and will use artificial sprays and candles to contribute to the holiday spirit. But those strong smells can also trigger sneezing and sniffles so you might want to tone them down a little, especially if your holiday guests seem uncomfortable.
Of course, eliminating exposure to these potential triggers is the best way to avoid allergic reactions, but that’s not very festive. A good saline rinse used after the exposure to airborne pollutants will help get rid of the irritants in your nose.
Using an herbal-enhanced nasal spray before you are potentially exposed to the airborne irritants at a holiday party will even help protect your sinuses by moisturizing passages so that you can focus on holiday cheer instead of holiday achoo.