Sleep and oxygen are essential for our overall health and well-being. But many don’t realize that these two processes often go hand in hand, and the disruption of one can significantly impact the other. So, how can we know if we’re getting enough of each one nightly? Ram Verma, MD, PPG – Sleep Medicine, briefly discusses the importance of sleep and oxygenation and why tracking them could benefit your health.
The importance of oxygen
Oxygen is essential to our survival. We will die if we are deprived of oxygen for five minutes. Knowing a complete lack of oxygen can kill us, it’s also important to understand that suboptimal oxygen levels can be just as dangerous, even life-threatening, causing troublesome symptoms and increasing your risk of various diseases.
The significance of sleep
Getting the proper amount of sleep can help repair, heal and recharge your mind and body and improve brain function, performance and mood. On the other hand, poor quality or a lack of sleep can take a severe toll on your mental and physical well-being and is associated with many chronic health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity and depression.
A problematic cycle
The brain is designed to monitor oxygen, so if there is a 3 or 4% drop in oxygen, your brain will sense the problem and wake you up just enough to restore your breathing. While this arousal helps to maintain oxygenation, it also sabotages your restorative rest by breaking your sleep cycle. Because of this, unknowing individuals mistakenly think they have insomnia and try to remedy the situation by numbing this important monitoring mechanism with medication.
A helpful solution
Individuals who aren’t quite ready to get tested for sleep apnea and want more information and insight before seeking help from a provider may benefit from tracking their sleep and oxygen levels at home. Fortunately, in the modern era that we live in, we can obtain valuable information about our oxygenation and sleep quality with the help of wearables.
Many devices on the market today can give you objective data about your sleep and oxygenation. However, these devices aren’t always 100% accurate. There are also a lot of variabilities when comparing night-to-night data due to different stages of sleep and varying sleep positions. But monitoring your sleep and oxygenation with a more than 60% accurate device for an extended period could give you some useful information and trends over time. Furthermore, this type of data can benefit someone at risk of sleep apnea, insomnia and other breathing-related disorders, providing objective data that will allow you to make decisions about your health.
Choosing the right device
While there are numerous devices on the market today, most aren’t FDA-approved or regulated. For this reason, a little research is necessary before purchasing. Not all devices are created equal or provide the same type of data. The accuracy of wearable devices can vary depending on brand and generation. It’s also important to ensure the wearable app and software are compatible with your phone. It will make tracking your sleep and oxygenation easier.
When choosing a wearable device, compare multiple brands, their capability and the information they can gather. A quality device should provide you with data regarding your sleep stages and drops in oxygen levels. Also, reading the reviews and working with customer support for each device you are considering could provide valuable information and guidance to help you choose the right one. Speaking with a PPG – Sleep Medicine provider may also be beneficial, as they can help you find a free or discounted device.
When to seek help
If you or a loved one feel sleepy, fatigued or tired, despite having 7-8 hours of sleep, it could indicate poor sleep quality or oxygenation and be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder. If you have concerns about your sleep health, please speak with your primary care provider and discuss the possible benefits of a consultation with a Sleep Medicine provider.