Muscle, Not Brain May be Key in Treating Sleep Disorders

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Muscle, Not Brain May be Key in Treating Sleep Disorders

Sleep Disorders have eluded scientists for decades. However, as technology advances, so does our understanding of these dangerous conditions. A deeper understanding of what causes sleep disorders allows us to treat them more effectively.

Mark Levy DDS has been helping patients fight the good fight for years when it comes to sleep disorders. He and his staff are expertly trained when it comes to treating disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. Dr. Levy stays on the cutting edge of information when it comes to these disorders. This allows him to offer superior guidance to his patients.

A New Study on Sleep Disorders Focuses on Muscles

Scientists have focused on how the brain effects sleep disorders. However, they’re now discovering there may actually be a connection between the patient’s muscles and OSA. This means that the problem is not only in the brain as previously thought.

This new study has shown researchers that a specific protein in the muscles can improve the effects of sleep disorders in mice. R&D Magazine reports:

A team, led by researchers from the UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute, found that a protein in the muscle can lessen the effects of sleep loss in mice—which challenges the widely held assumption that the brain controls all aspects of sleep.

This information could allow doctors and scientists the ability to develop new, more effective treatments. Many individuals who are diagnosed with OSA and other sleep disorders have to undergo lifelong treatment to protect their overall health. If these disorders go unchecked, then serious health conditions can develop later on in life.

“This finding is completely unexpected and changes the ways we think sleep is controlled,” Joseph Takahashi, Ph.D., chairman of Neuroscience at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, said in a statement.

The study has provided scientists a new target when it comes to developing therapies for sleep disorders.  A circadian clock protein known as BMAL1 resides in muscle and helps regulate sleep. Previously, the protein’s existence or lack of presence in brain tissue hasn’t had much effect on treating sleep disorders. However, mice showing increased BMAL1 levels in muscle tissue recover quickly from sleep deprivation. Likewise, an absence of BMAL1 from muscle tissue in mice causes severe sleep disruptions. This in turn leads to a greater need for sleep, deeper sleep, as well as a limited ability to recover from sleep deprivation.

Examining and Understanding the Influence on Sleep Disorders

This study was a collaborative effort between UT Southwestern Medical Center, Morehouse School of Medicine, and the University of Florida. It was also supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Medical Xpress also covered the discovery:

“These studies show that factors in muscles can signal to the brain to influence sleep. If similar pathways exist in people, this would provide new drug targets for the treatment of sleep disorders,” said Dr. Takahashi, holder of the Loyd B. Sands Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience.

Dr. Takahashi also mentioned that these findings could lead to the development of therapies to benefit individuals with jobs that require long periods of wakefulness. People in the military as well as doctors and airline pilots may be able to benefit from this knowledge. This discovery opens a whole new door of possibilities.

The best thing about this knowledge is that it may just be scratching the surface when it comes to learning more about sleep. Now that the search for sleep disorder causes isn’t limited to one area of the body, we may quickly learn more. More knowledge leads to greater treatment options for those who suffer from sleep disorders.

The Importance of Treating Sleep Disorders Effectively

Sleep disorders are a bigger problem in today’s world than many people realize. The inability to get a restful night of sleep can greatly influence your mind and body during all hours of the day. The short term effects alone can be extremely dangerous. In fact, a large number of automobile and workplace accidents are believed to be the result of inadequate sleep. This is because a lack of appropriate sleep fatigues both the mind and body. Individuals often report a decreased ability to maintain focus over periods of time. This is especially true for monotonous activities such as driving or repeated tasks in the workplace. A lack of sleep also lengthens your reaction time. This means, in the event of an accident, you aren’t able to react as quickly. This could result in devastating consequences. Many people also report problems with memory.

If you suffer from a persistent or chronic sleep disorder then you may develop additional symptoms without treatment. For example, individuals who suffer from OSA are at a significantly greater risk of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke. The disorder can also cause other conditions to worsen, including diabetes. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from disorders like OSA get pulled into a cycle of worsening conditions until they’ve caused permanent damage.

Thankfully, many sleep disorders respond quite well to treatment. And, as we continue to learn more about them, more treatments are developed to help individuals suffering from disorders. If you’re diagnosed with a sleeping disorder then you’ll want to begin treatment as soon as possible. You’ll likely begin to feel like your old self rather quickly.

A Non-Invasive Treatment Option for Sleep Disorders

If you’re already being treated for your sleep disorder but aren’t happy with your treatment, don’t give up. There are many treatment options available and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Many people who are unable to tolerate the popular CPAP therapy used to treat OSA are turning to Dr. Levy and his staff. We are able to provide a treatment option that our patients rave about.

Dr. Levy and his team can create a customized oral appliance just for you. This appliance helps prevent your airway from collapsing as you sleep, the primary problem with OSA. This appliance is easy to use, small, portable, and a great alternative to other methods you may not be able to tolerate.

To learn more about using oral appliances for sleep apnea, reach out to our offices today.

Call Mark Levy DDS at (614) 777-7350 for more information on treatment options for sleep disorders.